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About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is a film critic for The New York Post and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Is Margaret Thatcher a Feminist?

    By Kyle | December 29, 2011

    It’s somewhat gratifying to see that it is dawning on some writers that Margaret Thatcher (the subject of tomorrow’s “The Iron Lady”) is a role model for feminists. Gail Sheehy of Vanity Fair caught on as long ago as 1989, when she wrote this largely admiring profile of Thatcher on the tenth anniversary of her election as Prime Minister. I’ve been reading some books about Thatcher but Sheehy’s profile tells you pretty much all you need to know. In 2002, Tim Lott of The Guardian made a feminist case for Thatcher that’s also worth reading. Last week Newsweek put Meryl Streep’s Thatcher on its cover and ran this favorable piece by historian Amanda Foreman (sister of Jonathan, my predecessor as Post film critic). Says Foreman:

    In the two decades since her fall from power, her mind has faded, as has her once-mythic image, either calcified as a caricature of a union-busting battleaxe or overshadowed by the achievements of other women on the world stage: Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice. But that is changing now with the convulsions of the euro she predicted and a return of ideological conflicts in which she was the most passionate advocate of free markets. Equivocation enraged her. When as leader of the party she thought some Tories were showing deviationist liberal tendencies—“wets,” she called them—she marched into the headquarters of the Conservative Party clutching a book by Friedrich Hayek and proclaimed: “This is what we believe.”

    The film’s focus on Thatcher’s mental decline has been denounced by her admirers—who, like those of her fellow traveler Reagan, tend to be furiously overprotective of their hero’s image and legacy. But their criticism misses a broader point. Streep’s nuanced portrayal of the vulnerable human being behind the mask of the “Iron Lady” powerfully reminds us of Thatcher’s achievements not just as a politician and leader but as a woman, a wife, and a mother. She is so controversial in Britain, though, that she has never been claimed by the feminist movement. In 2009 it took a public outcry to force a reprint after the deputy leader of the Labour government, Harriet Harman, published an official list of the 16 women politicians who changed Britain and left Thatcher off. Her rejection “even from feminists,” says Streep, seems to “have something to do with our profound … discomfort with women in power. Or our terror of it.”

    Topics: Politics | 5 Comments »

    5 Responses to “Is Margaret Thatcher a Feminist?”

    1. Sherlock Says:
      December 29th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Like Sheehy says, she wore homemade clothes and clunky shoes, unlike the usual posh town and country types. That’s the story: Not sexism but snobbery. She was “suburban” and a grocer’s daughter, and it’s class (not purely rent-seeking) that keeps whole political parties from fracturing now. Leftist politics today is about differentiating ourselves from the flyover states, the oikos, white working class trash, the benighted mass with their big screen TVs. It’s all meant to prove that they are not us.

    2. kishke Says:
      December 29th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      The idea that Clinton and Rice, or even Merkel, are remotely in Thatcher’s league is laughable.

    3. randolph Duke Says:
      December 30th, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Well on the regional stage, Merkel might have a similar significance with her stewardship of the European economy, but
      let’s be honest, the reason the likes of
      Harman were so verklempt, was because the grocer’s daughter from Finchley, was putting an end to the gravy train, and
      piercing old liberal pieties,

    4. randolph Duke Says:
      December 30th, 2011 at 9:29 am

      A more honest review,

    5. Kyle Says:
      December 30th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Randolph Duke is a pretty funny handle. Mortimer Duke would have been even better.