British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher celebrates her first general election
victory in Flood St, Chelsea, London.
(Central Press/Getty Images)
Having seen trailers for the film The Iron Lady, I can see why Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for her performance as Margaret Thatcher and has been nominated for an Oscar—the accent and mannerisms are spot on. The film has given people the chance to reflect on the Thatcher era and some of her achievements as the UK’s first and only female Prime Minister. As a minister she had already brought in controversial policies, including stopping free milk in primary schools for children over 7 years old, giving her the nickname ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher.’
As Prime minister from 1979–1990, she divided British society by privatising many state owned industries and closing coal mines which resulted in a year of strikes by two thirds of Britain’s miners. Margaret Thatcher reduced spending on social housing and higher education and took a hard line approach to politics, which was arguably all the more important as she was a woman who needed to prove she was in charge.
A role that holds such power is rarely taken on by a woman and requires, I imagine, nerves of steel and a lot of determination and ambition. Whether this idea that for a woman to be in charge she has to hold a steely persona has resulted from women’s own insecurities or whether it is an attempt to imitate men in power is unclear, but Margaret Thatcher certainly gave the impression of an ‘Iron Lady’ and many people took a personal dislike to her.
However, the persona she portrayed worked for her role, people followed her and she was taken seriously as a leader. Thanks to a victory in the Falklands and a recovering economy she was voted in for three terms, and her policies have continued to influence lives, including allowing people to buy their own council-owned homes.
The film brings to the surface women in high level politics and thankfully it is no longer such a fantasy as it may have once been before Margaret Thatcher’s terms in office. With Australia having a female Prime Minister, Germany with a woman at the helm and even America getting closer to having their own first female President, ‘women in politics’ is becoming more accepted. Even so, politics is still very much male dominated and not an easy world for a woman to enter, but let’s hope that the release of the film at the very least inspires more women to try.
If you’ve seen the film, do you believe it does the Iron Lady justice?
Girl Museum Inc.