A few days ago I had the chance to watch the movie The Iron Lady which shows the story of Lady Margaret Tatcher, the former Tory Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most controversial politicians of the previous century. The lead actress who was playing Thatcher, Meryl Streep, absolutely deserves the best actress Oscar as she was brilliant.
The movie was average though.
It annoyed me that they created a humanised version of Thatcher; they painted a rosy picture of her and did not show the magnitude of the pains that her policies actually caused. Whilst the real Margaret Thatcher had a very clear understanding of the consequences of her policies, the movie failed to demonstrate the long lasting effects of these policies. Instead, they nurtured a persona of a woman who had to do what had to be done.
The other thing that annoyed me was the portrayal of Thatcher as a feminist, through her presentation as a woman who managed to excel in a man’s world. In reality, Thatcher and her conservative party hated both the feminist movement and their broadest agenda for equality. Actually, Thatcher is very famous for explicitly rejecting feminism. She never struggled for equality within the family, or gender equality at the workplace, or equal opportunities for women and she never supported the right of women over their bodies (abortion). She did not even appoint equal (or at least vaguely comparable) number of women in her cabinet. Instead, she moved from her father’s house to Oxford and then to the arms of her millionaire husband, accepting the role of the traditional wife, despite her being such a powerful figure outside of her house.
The movie also focused too much on the fact that Thatcher is an old lady with health and mental problems. Fair enough, this is indeed the case, but this is the case for many old ladies. This does not make Thatcher special. The reasons that make her special, and the reasons why a special movie was made about her, is because of her politics. Unfortunately, her physical and mental condition were utilised in an attempt to exonerate her.