Thatcher’s Dead, Why She Was So Hated, Misapplied Death Etiquette, And How To Villify Without Being Misogynist.


Apologies for the lack of in-depth posting this week. I spent the weekend off in Limerick with the Dublin Roller Derby girls, am doing a couple of talks this week for DIT LGBT‘s Rainbow Week, and have a very loved friend visiting from the US. That, and I have a day job these days!

In the meantime, Margaret Thatcher died and the internet exploded with feels. The occasional sad feel, a lot of happy feels, another bunch of disappointed feels that the happy feels weren’t being appropriately decorous about the whole thing. Everyone ate jelly and icecream. People Said Things.

A few important things people have said, which should fulfill all your Thatcher’s Dead Week needs:

Why Are People In Britain Celebrating The Death Of Margaret Thatcher?

If you’re younger or not from anywhere that she royally fucked over, you might wonder why on earth the death of an old lady and ex-Prime Minister would have people dancing in the streets all over the UK. Sovreign Domain have written a good 101 on Thatcher’s attacks on poor people, POC, and, er, Argentina, as well as her friendships with fascists, racists and paedophiles. A couple of excerpts:

When she was elected in 1979, Her government more than doubled unemployment through extreme Monetarist policies… Over two million manufacturing jobs were ultimately lost in the recession of 1979-81. By 1983, manufacturing output had dropped by 30% from 1978. Employment in Britain has never fully recovered.

she personally gave the order to sink the Argentinian battleship Belgrano when it was  far outside of the ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ declared around the Falklands. In doing so she over-ruled the Navy’s own rules of engagement in sinking a World War 2 vintage battleship that had offered little threat against the modern Royal Navy.  The sinking of the Belgrano seemed to be more of a political gesture than a military necessity, designed to show her strength and resolution, needlessly killing 323 sailors.

…Thatcher’s culture of using the Police as paramilitary shock troops against the people of Britain started with the heavy handed and overtly racist policing that helped contribute to the Brixton and Toxteth riots and was developed in the Miner’s Strike of 1984-5.

Check out the rest if you’re not familiar with her or need a recap.

Margaret Thatcher and Misapplied Death Etiquette

Still, though. There were plenty of people who weren’t exactly saints in their lifetimes, and it’s still considered impolite to speak ill of the recently deceased. Right?

In this case, maybe not.

Thi

s demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power. “Respecting the grief” of Thatcher’s family members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person’s life and political acts. I made this argument at length last year when Christopher Hitchens died and a speak-no-ill rule about him was instantly imposed (a rule he, more than anyone, viciously violated), and I won’t repeat that argument today; those interested can read my reasoning here.

But the key point is this: those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography.

Thatcher was a person, but she is also an idea which has harmed millions of lives. Who do we owe more respect to- the bully or the bullied?

A Feminist Guide to Celebrating Thatcher’s Demise

You’ve read the 101, or you lived through Thatcherism and have been waiting to crack open the bubbly for years. I ain’t going to argue with you if you feel the need to raise a glass to her demise or join your local street party.

You should probably keep a few guidelines in mind, though. Since you know your intersectionality and your feminism, you’re probably aware that the ways in which we demonise and insult women can be pretty darn misogynist. If you’re wondering about the best way to villify her? Look no further, for the Angry Women of Liverpool have put together a quick guide for all your non-gendered vulgarity needs:

We should be careful about how we vilify her, because patriarchy does make it so much easier to vilify women as women, in ways that are harmful to all women rather than just the villains. That said, give her credit: she was vilified for far more than just her gender, and there are many very good reasons why Thatcher holds such a special place in the nation’s gallbladders. She was the one who turned on the tap for all the neoliberal free market shit we’ve been wading through for the past three decades. Why vilify her for being a woman when there’s her role in privatising services, destroying industries, breaking unions, starting wars, atomising communities and, lest we forget, stealing milk from babies.

…What’s wrong with calling Thatcher a venomous, putrid crust of syphilitic smegma on the chode of the universe? Or if you don’t like the vulgarity, go for the surreal: Thatcher was a wax-encrusted elbow-joint of the highest order. Be creative.

Here’s the rest.

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Thatcher’s Dead, Why She Was So Hated, Misapplied Death Etiquette, And How To Villify Without Being Misogynist.

  1. Just as an addendum to whats written above, all of which I agree with!

    I very much agree that I hate misogynist slurs being used to deride Thatcher like the c-word or so on that you see a lot – it’s not right even when it’s someone you hate.

    It’s important equally as well however that we debunk ANY of the myths surrounding Thatcher As Feminist Icon in her hagiography too. She was an avowed enemy of feminism throughout her life – “The feminists hate me, don’t they?” Margaret Thatcher once famously asked out loud. But she was okay with their disdain: “I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism.” This was a very vocal disdain she kept, unlike for instance her position on apartheid in South Africa (while she tacitly supported) or her support for her good friend Pinochet.

    I like Russell Brand’s line in his recent Guardian article, which I felt was particularly clear, thought-provoking and poignant:

    “It always struck me as peculiar, too, when the Spice Girls briefly championed Thatcher as an early example of girl power. I don’t see that. She is an anomaly; a product of the freak-onomy of her time. Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had “broken the glass ceiling for other women”. Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.”

    • Abso-frickin-lutely.

      You don’t get to be a feminist just by being a woman- although you could, of course, say that her ability to come to power in the first place couldn’t have happened without decades of work by countless feminists in making the public sphere a space where women could be.
      But that doesn’t make her a feminist. It makes her ungrateful and ignorant.

  2. “…What’s wrong with calling Thatcher a venomous, putrid crust of syphilitic smegma on the chode of the universe?”

    I completely agree, but can I please get that sung by Munchkins now? Ta.

  3. Lovely. Thank you.

  4. I’m glad we don’t have gender-neutral terms in French, so I don’t have to worry about this ^^

  5. Nah, I know there are some. It’s just that gendered words are so common that they can’t be considered offensive, is all 😉

  6. I can think of an insult that’s intrinsically misogynist, actually. Good thing that they don’t come to my mind easily, I guess.
    (sorry about the double posting, I have this bad habit of re-editing my post continuously when the option’s there)

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s