I’m reposting a piece I wrote last year about the film The Iron Lady. It seems I’m not alone in my assessment:
“One’s life must matter!” ~ The Iron Lady
At first I was drawn in by the altruistic character the screenwriter wrote as Margaret Thatcher – all she wanted was to “make a difference.” But, what Thatcher really did was borrowed against Britain’s social capital to pay off the failings of economic capital.
She offloaded a financial burden from the shoulders of the broader population onto the considerably fewer shoulders of the labourers and working poor. The Iron Lady then lucked into a dramatic war over the Falkland Islands, against which she threw all of Britain’s might, and forced Argentina into retreat. Argentina being the islands’ nearest neighbour, not surprisingly, continues to object to Britain’s 17th century claim to what they call Islas Malvinas.
Meryl Streep was brilliant, naturally, and my only disappointment in her performance is that she chose to take the role in the first place. While the screenwriter desperately weaves any stitch of sentimentality that she could piece together in the suitably named iron character, with Hollywood’s go to theme of a tired love story, Streep expertly softens the impossible edges of a woman who robbed her country of civility to pay for the price of maintaining a holiday getaway for the wealthy of an ancient empire.
A hint of her distorted priorities was scribed through the handwritten letters she wrote to the kin of soldiers whom she insisted would not “die in vain!” She made clear she was uniquely suited to empathize with her fellow mothers because she was the first woman to hold the Prime Minister’s office. All the while, she was estranged from her son and her daughter has but a whiff of her mother’s presence.
If the only way for a woman to take power is to cruelly abandoned supposedly gendered sentimentalities, then I say: Send in the men! Feminism is about developing what is good in everyone, not converting women into the cold-hearted men we conjure up as our would-be overlords.
Iron Lady she was. Calculating and cold, but also lucky. A nice little war to rally British unity saw her through a full 11 years before her advisors finally saw that she didn’t offer a woman’s touch, rather that she was worse than the men who had preceded her! She was lucky to have ruled in the midst of a cold war, which distorted social policies as oppressive means of control. She was lucky to have ruled in a time of deep global recession and little could be directly linked to her. She was lucky the British had no choice but to soldier on.
No man has ever told me I cannot do something because I am a woman. That model of Ken doll went out of fashion in the 1970s. I am not saying women have it made now – we have a long way to go – but that path must not involve abandoning our sensibilities toward humanity. Thanks to feminism, men are being liberated from macho posturing and are adopting the supposedly “feminine” capacity to deeply see others in the world around them, with compassion and empathy.
If women want to make strides, it is not by abandoning the very characteristics that men are quickly adopting, it is by fostering a value system that develops human strengths rather than prioritizes them in terms of economic utility, for THAT is what communism became and why we celebrated the fall of the USSR.
She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and entrenched the inequities of capitalism rather than forwarding the equities of feminism.
Live within limits without limiting life
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