By Olexandra Solomka
When considering ‘ground-breakers’, within fashion, my mind immediately settled on one of Britain’s most controversial women; Margaret Thatcher; famously coined the ‘Iron lady’ within the media, she was an icon for 80’s power dressing. However, rather than focus on her suits, this article looks at her power, and whether we should label her a ‘feminist’ or not.
During the eighties, women were working in the same offices, or institutions, as men. However, women in these working environments were victim to discrimination, and weren’t taken as seriously as men. Furthermore, second wave feminists campaigning for equal rights, were painted in a negative light by the patriarchal media (Jackie Brookner, 1991):
“Eighties, feminism, along with every other social movement against oppression in our country, suffered badly at the hands of self-interested materialism-the reign of the yuppies.” (Brookner, J. 1991)
Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister for over ten years, 1979-1990, and strongly denied being a feminist, or an being icon for the movement:
“The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.” (Margaret Thatcher, 2011)
Far from suggesting that Thatcher was wrong for her denial of being a feminist, I believe it is incredibly progressive and groundbreaking; she refused to acknowledge her gender in her success, she was the prime minister because she deserved it:
“[The Conservative Government] didn’t look around for a woman at all. They looked around and they found Margaret Thatcher, because she was needed at the time.” (Lord Hurd, 2013)
By labeling successful females as ‘feminists’ it places emphasis on the fact that they are female; in the same way labeling Barak Obama as the ‘first Black president’ highlights that he’s Black. By attaching labels to ‘minorities’ success, we only serve to reinforce that this is a phenomenon, and detracts from the individuals’ hard work.
It seems the only people who can achieve success; and not have it phenomenalised; are still white, middle class, males. With so much emphasis on gender quotas in the current government, women are still, in some cases, only ‘getting’ something because of their gender. Unfortunately, even to this day, if a woman did gain a job within parliament, it would still be questioned whether she was actually the best candidate.
Picture ©Knott / Rex / Sipa