The president's statement praises Thatcher as one the "great champions of freedom and liberty" and goes on to observe "she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered."
So today we all celebrate Margaret Thatcher as a feminist icon? This is revisionism of a high order.
Of course she ought to have been a feminist heroine. Thatcher was one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century and the greatest female leader of modern times. A woman of rare brilliance, grit, accomplishment and determination, she who won three national elections, helped to dismantle the Soviet empire and transformed her nation and the world for the better.
But no, the feminists loathed her. During her first campaign for national office in 1979, the more polite nose holders said, "We want women's rights, not a right-wing woman." The less subtle circulated the slogan "Ditch the B----." Following the release of the movie "The Iron Lady," a feminist wailed on the Huffington Post that Thatcher was "the embodiment of everything that feminism is not: selfish, rigid and intolerant."
Ah, yes the tolerant feminists! Thatcher understood them well enough, remarking, "I owe nothing to women's lib." Young women, we were told, required female role models. Thatcher's hero was Winston Churchill. While at Oxford, the grocer's daughter who grew up without running hot water in her flat majored in chemistry, not women's studies (a curriculum which didn't yet exist, but which she would definitely have despised). Her tutor, as it happens, was a female pioneer of x-ray crystallography, who had the effrontery to win a Nobel Prize before the Betty Friedans and Gloria Steinems of the world had supposedly paved the way.
Eschewing the usual female ghettoes of health, education and welfare policy, Thatcher the politician focused on economics and international affairs. At a Conservative Party congress, she responded to a fellow Tory's temporizing about policy by pulling a volume from one of her famous handbags. Thumping her copy of F. A. Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" on the table, she declared, "This is what we believe."
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