Misogyny and Thatcherism

Margaret Thatcher has died. The very famous Conservative British Prime Minister enacted a number of controversial policies from 1979 – 1990. She was rightly criticised for, amongst other things, destroying the British coal mining industry, weakening the trade unions through various legislation, and increasing unemployment to over 3 million people.

She is not a likeable woman. But this is not justification or excuse for those in the left to spew misogynistic insults. The word bitch is being frequently used to describe Thatcher. Memes and videos stating “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” are being shared over Facebook and insults used such as “ugly cow.” And it is not simply men reveling in sex-specific insults. Radical feminists are also using words like witch, reblogging misogynistic memes, or excusing others who choose to do so.

Women give men implicit permission to use misogynistic insults against Margaret Thatcher when we do this.

Misogynistic insults target women as a class; they imply that at least part of the problem with the individual target is her woman-ness. When men say this about one woman, they are thinking it about other women. This is the equivalent of the man who calls a woman slut and when confronted, he hurriedly reassures you that he does not think you are a slut. Not you, but that other woman! The truth is he thinks some women are sluts and deserve to be called sluts. He thinks some women deserve to be criticised because they are women. This is not acceptable.

Of course some feminists have called out this behaviour. I thank them! For example, Julie Bindel tweeted:

JBindel_4-8-2013
There is something deeply misogynistic about calling a dead old woman a witch. Sexist language is bad full stop, whoever it refers to.”

We need to remember that the same level of vitriol is not displayed when a hated male leader dies. Left wing men or feminists did not spew personalized, sex-specific insults at the death of Ronald Reagan or have parties to celebrate, as some in the UK are doing. Of course they criticised his policies and highlighted the damage he did to the US’s economy and in particular the poorest citizens. But he was criticised for his policies and actions. He was not criticised for being a man.

So please, refrain from using any misogynistic insults when talking about Margaret Thatcher and call out those who do so. Instead, concentrate on criticising her policies and the harmful impact they had on working people. In other words, don’t criticise her for being a woman, but for her behavior.

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11 comments
  1. mhairi said:

    I object strongly to Thatcher being called a witch.

    Witches are damn cool. Thatcher was a murderous tyrant

  2. smash said:

    Thanks for this piece. The terms ‘witch’ and ‘bitch’ in this context are exceptionally misogynistic, and it is unfortunate that feminists and others are using them. We can wholly disprove of Thatcher, while not using these terms.

  3. zeph said:

    Thanks for this post! I don’t agree with her politics but Margaret Thatcher was an amazing person nevertheless. Some left wing women accuse her of a lack of compassion, not without some justification, however they make her look like a paragon of kindness when they dance on her grave, call her a bitch, a witch and not long ago a woman said she should be burnt at the stake. I sometimes think they are saying all this to get the approval of left wing men. Any woman who talks this way about a democratically elected PM needs to examine their own claims to being feminist.

  4. Wow. There are thousands, maybe millions, of instances now specifically referencing Thatcher’s female-ness in a degrading manner.

    No one asked whether Reagan was a good father to his child, only female politicians are expected to “do it all”:

    Even her closest friends admit that Margaret Thatcher was a better politician than wife and mother, but she was generous in her acknowledgement of the debt she owed her family.

    From a pay-to-view article: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3055430.ece

    The DEBT she owed her family. Do male politicians owe DEBTS to their families? Does Obama owe Michelle and the girls? No. Men are not expected to be fathers AND politicians, just politicians. This is a GENDERED problem. Sex roles must be destroyed!!

    “The bitch is dead”: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/455054/20130409/thatcher-death-party.htm

    And “Ding dong the witch is dead” is going to number 1 on youtube:

    Ding Dong The Witch is Dead is set to top the charts after a Facebook campaign in the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s passing sent Judy Garland’s hit soaring into the iTunes Top 30 download chart.

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/455077/20130409/margaret-thatcher-dies-ding-dong-witch-dead.htm

  5. Hecuba said:

    Proves for the umpteenth time the depth to which men collectively hate women because their sex is female. Misogyny is male created and whilst some ‘feminists’ are mimicking male hatred/male contempt for the late Margaret Thatcher, it was men who ‘rushed en masse’ to try and outdo each other in their vitriolic misogynistic attacks upon the late Margaret Thatcher.

    Go to root of the problem which is pandemic male hatred/male contempt for women because their sex is female not the mythical ‘definitive human who is always male!’

  6. The really funny thing about all this is that it shows no one knows their feminist history. Way back when there were feminist articles in the 1960s and 70s praising Thatcher as being an example for other women to follow – because she was breaking ground that many other women at that time feared to tread. There are lessons of all kinds to be learned from that.

  7. I don’t think it means that “no one knows their feminist history.” I think it’s an indication that “feminism” has many meanings to many different people. And that EQUALITY feminists believe exceptional women (like Thatcher) represent “feminist success.” Just as some women believe that Meg Whitman is a “feminist success,” and Sheryl Sandberg, and on and on…

  8. To clarify: My comment was referring to the scores of young women (and men) who I am seeing everywhere lambasting Thatcher, who obviously have no awareness that she was ever viewed in any other way than as an evil conservative. They don’t know that in fact at one stage there were many feminists who were praising Thatcher and speculating that if she advanced in her political career not only would she set an example for other women to follow, but that she would fight to improve conditions for women in general as she became more influential (despite being a conservative politician). Of course, the opposite happened, and she followed the dictates of the conservative societal forces she was representing, which led to things getting harder for many women.

    I find it interesting to read back over those old articles because it shows women genuinely wondering what would happen. For the first time, they were saying, we have a woman who is going after these influential political positions. This is one of the things we’ve been fighting for – yay! And now what will that mean for other women? At least some of them really thought there would be some kind of correlation between Thatcher’s individual success, and widespread improvement for women as a class. Only we know now it isn’t that simple. And yet, many of the kiddies who are hating on Thatcher are the same ones who think individualism is the answer. Oh the irony.

  9. Sam said:

    I completely agree.

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