THE NEWSDESK: Tasteless Thatcher protests an attack on all women

South Wales Argus: JUST PLAIN NASTY: Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz JUST PLAIN NASTY: Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz

SOMETHING about this week has me on a slow, angry boil and I just have to get it off my chest.

Let me first be clear about my position on Margaret Thatcher’s policies. I grew up in a mining town and was a teenager during the 1984 miners’ strike.

I abhor much of what her policies brought – gouging the heart out of Valleys communities like mine, stripping generations of hope, caring little for the impact of her cuts because she and her government knew full well communities like mine did not vote for her.

Her foreign policy - helping to prop up the pariah that was Chile’s General Pinochet, refusing to strengthen sanctions against the South African apartheid regime – was anathema to me.

But something about this Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead stuff makes me furious.

That witch archetype. The witch, the bitch, the whore or the mad woman in the attic.

The nasty misogyny which rears its ugly head when we women “overstep the mark” or “overreach ourselves”.

All those stupid girls born long after Thatcher’s term of office dancing about to it like in Trafalgar Square at the weekend - unthinking, manipulated, naïve.

Because if Thatcher had been a man, this witch nonsense would not have been on people’s lips.

There are plenty of anti-Thatcher protest songs – try Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding for one. Try anything by Billy Bragg.

Yet, here we are with this nasty little song in the charts in a protest organised by, oh how surprising, a man.

One can easily argue that Thatcher herself courted the stereotype of the disapproving headmistress, handbagging those who dared to cross her, telling us all to pull our socks up and pull ourselves together.

Yet, aren’t we supposed to have moved on since 1990?

Aren’t we supposed to be better than stereotyping like this?

One thing’s for sure, unless we women stand up and are counted, and stand against these nasty little archetypes every day, even when it comes to those with whom we disagree politically, there won’t be another woman Prime Minister in our lifetimes.

Let’s all try to agree to disagree

THERE is a second thread to my annoyance with events this week, and this is it: since when did Britain become a country where no one can disagree with someone else for fear of a moral backlash?

I think holding Thatcher death parties a crass, distasteful way of making a protest.

Yet the irony of some London-based newspapers who called for a ban on them or the Ding Dong song just weeks after exhorting Leveson to leave a free Press without legal shackles was simply lost upon their own editors.

Then there are also those who simply will not countenance anyone saying the woman herself was not a saint, and they, too, are misguided.

We in Britain cannot canonise our dead politicians like some new Eva Peron. Our culture is to question and weigh up our politicians and their role in history.

We are not a society where dictators command unquestioning loyalty.

Baroness Thatcher was a public figure. The “don’t speak ill of the dead” rule simply cannot apply to someone whose life was lived in public service and paid by the public purse.

And no political obituary should be an uncritical hagiography, because we live in a democracy where people are allowed to hold differing views.

Many living under the yoke of censorship risk their lives for this kind of freedom.

The extremity of reaction to her death seems to be a function of the social division the Thatcher government sought to bring.

We cannot fall into that old bear trap.

I think the best reaction we can all have is to understand that other people have different views to ours, and to allow them the tolerance of expression, even when we dislike what they say or how they say it.

The measure of a man, or woman, is in how they deal with those who disagree with them.

Comments (11)

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12:47pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

"The measure of a man, or woman, is in how they deal with those who disagree with them."

Well firstly, since you've brought up the issue of sexism and gender discrimination wouldn't it have been more enlightened to have used the phrase 'measure of a person' instead of 'man or woman' because doing so totally erases people who identify as neither - including some people who are born intersex.

Secondly, isn't a bit rich for a member of the British media to pontificate to the rest of us on the need to respect someone who has just passed away, when as recently as a few weeks' ago the newspapers were still mockingly referring to Lucy Meadows (yet another transsexual woman whom they'd hounded to death) with the male pronoun - gleefully spewing out headlines such as: "Sir who was a Miss is dead!"?

Yup, journos have such a finely-tuned sensitive grasp of the meaning of gender oppression, don't they...?!
"The measure of a man, or woman, is in how they deal with those who disagree with them." Well firstly, since you've brought up the issue of sexism and gender discrimination wouldn't it have been more enlightened to have used the phrase 'measure of a person' instead of 'man or woman' because doing so totally erases people who identify as neither - including some people who are born intersex. Secondly, isn't a bit rich for a member of the British media to pontificate to the rest of us on the need to respect someone who has just passed away, when as recently as a few weeks' ago the newspapers were still mockingly referring to Lucy Meadows (yet another transsexual woman whom they'd hounded to death) with the male pronoun - gleefully spewing out headlines such as: "Sir who was a Miss is dead!"? Yup, journos have such a finely-tuned sensitive grasp of the meaning of gender oppression, don't they...?! Katie Re-Registered

12:52pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

...Oh, and witch-hunts? As evidenced by the above example amongst many, I'd conclude 'our' media are particularly well-qualified in that area.
...Oh, and witch-hunts? As evidenced by the above example amongst many, I'd conclude 'our' media are particularly well-qualified in that area. Katie Re-Registered

1:42pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Dee-Gee says...

That doesn't change the fact that the "witch" thing IS sexist, though. Bit unfair to blame a local paper for the nastiness at national level, though the Argus DOES do a lot of that cringy "mum-of-one" stuff.

Thatcher? Two links sum it up.

http://poemof-theday
.blogspot.co.uk/2010
/04/all-things-pass-
lao-tzu.html

http://whoismargaret
thatcher.tumblr.com/
That doesn't change the fact that the "witch" thing IS sexist, though. Bit unfair to blame a local paper for the nastiness at national level, though the Argus DOES do a lot of that cringy "mum-of-one" stuff. Thatcher? Two links sum it up. http://poemof-theday .blogspot.co.uk/2010 /04/all-things-pass- lao-tzu.html http://whoismargaret thatcher.tumblr.com/ Dee-Gee

2:38pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Llanmartinangel says...

Yeah but the song didn't reach its hype level did it. And the much heralded 'party' was actually five hundred of the usual suspects (Soc Workers party, New Age travellers, rent-a-mob/can we join your scuffle even though we haven't a clue what it's about etc), all wearing forced smiles in the rain. Meanwhile all that Baroness T stood for will continue unimpeded, with no likelihood of anyone who wants to rip it up ever gaining electoral victory here. And rightly so.
Yeah but the song didn't reach its hype level did it. And the much heralded 'party' was actually five hundred of the usual suspects (Soc Workers party, New Age travellers, rent-a-mob/can we join your scuffle even though we haven't a clue what it's about etc), all wearing forced smiles in the rain. Meanwhile all that Baroness T stood for will continue unimpeded, with no likelihood of anyone who wants to rip it up ever gaining electoral victory here. And rightly so. Llanmartinangel

3:57pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Realist UK says...

Deceased and still sticking two fingers up to the lefties.
Deceased and still sticking two fingers up to the lefties. Realist UK

4:46pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Mervyn James says...

What a load of old tosh this column is. You can't plead women's equality and rights and not accept the result when you make bad ones. To ally THAT woman with female equlity shows you have no idea what you are taking about. Thatcher was about Thatcher, not about women's rights.

The fact negative terms were used would have made no difference had it been a female or a male, she was hated the length and breadth of the country. Do the crime do the time.

Maybe the columnist missed the papers today ? Cameron urging police to 'round up' opposition to thatcher via dawn raids today and tomorrow, before her funeral on Wednesday to pre-empt any visible result being seen on TV or streets of London. And they moan about Korea.....

Just carrying on where the woman left off, she and the police manufactured cases against union leaders to prevent opposition, and discredit people too...
What a load of old tosh this column is. You can't plead women's equality and rights and not accept the result when you make bad ones. To ally THAT woman with female equlity shows you have no idea what you are taking about. Thatcher was about Thatcher, not about women's rights. The fact negative terms were used would have made no difference had it been a female or a male, she was hated the length and breadth of the country. Do the crime do the time. Maybe the columnist missed the papers today ? Cameron urging police to 'round up' opposition to thatcher via dawn raids today and tomorrow, before her funeral on Wednesday to pre-empt any visible result being seen on TV or streets of London. And they moan about Korea..... Just carrying on where the woman left off, she and the police manufactured cases against union leaders to prevent opposition, and discredit people too... Mervyn James

6:28pm Mon 15 Apr 13

welshmen says...

"She and the police manufactured cases against union leaders to prevent opposition, and discredit people too," no change there then Mervyn.

Tommy Robinson of the EDL Luton, had about 30 or so Asian youths demonstrating & throwing missiles at his house, he phoned the police for help ,they came and arrested him and locked him up.

There are a lot of people being locked up for the beliefs, the EDL are against the Islamification of the UK & Europe, A Marxist state is growing here....
"She and the police manufactured cases against union leaders to prevent opposition, and discredit people too," no change there then Mervyn. Tommy Robinson of the EDL Luton, had about 30 or so Asian youths demonstrating & throwing missiles at his house, he phoned the police for help ,they came and arrested him and locked him up. There are a lot of people being locked up for the beliefs, the EDL are against the Islamification of the UK & Europe, A Marxist state is growing here.... welshmen

7:58pm Mon 15 Apr 13

Christian Grail says...

Oh yes and Thatcher was the bastion of feminism wasn't she! I see another typical spineless newsdesk article from the Argus, which, as per usual completely misses the point and the attitudes of the people of this once great nation, before thatcher got her hands on it!

What this article shows without any doubt is that the Argus does not stand up for the people and supports such diabolical attitudes of human rights and freedom of expression!

What a sad day for journalism!
Oh yes and Thatcher was the bastion of feminism wasn't she! I see another typical spineless newsdesk article from the Argus, which, as per usual completely misses the point and the attitudes of the people of this once great nation, before thatcher got her hands on it! What this article shows without any doubt is that the Argus does not stand up for the people and supports such diabolical attitudes of human rights and freedom of expression! What a sad day for journalism! Christian Grail

8:42pm Mon 15 Apr 13

KayBee78 says...

Am a woman. Check. One of Thatcher's (reluctant) children. Check. Grew up in mining village. Check. Watched Thatcher's stance on apartheid in distaste. Check. Find Thatcher being called witch sexist. Che.... you what? Iron lady being called a witch because she WAS a witch. One lady prime minister (yep, one!!!!) who happened to be a witch DOESN'T suggest all women are witchy. So witch seems to be a feminine description? They can hardly find an apt masculine one for her. Am glad your columnist doesn't conduct market research or we'd be buying pickled headlice on the grounds that once, in Stoke, ONE person mistakenly ingested a bug that fell into the Sarson's malt. PIFFLE :) Finding columnist MORE sexist for stupid correlation than anyone.
Am a woman. Check. One of Thatcher's (reluctant) children. Check. Grew up in mining village. Check. Watched Thatcher's stance on apartheid in distaste. Check. Find Thatcher being called witch sexist. Che.... you what? Iron lady being called a witch because she WAS a witch. One lady prime minister (yep, one!!!!) who happened to be a witch DOESN'T suggest all women are witchy. So witch seems to be a feminine description? They can hardly find an apt masculine one for her. Am glad your columnist doesn't conduct market research or we'd be buying pickled headlice on the grounds that once, in Stoke, ONE person mistakenly ingested a bug that fell into the Sarson's malt. PIFFLE :) Finding columnist MORE sexist for stupid correlation than anyone. KayBee78

1:46am Tue 16 Apr 13

Newport Dave says...

Dearest Maria, you say:
"Because if Thatcher had been a man, this witch nonsense would not have been on people’s lips."

What a crock. Trust me, when Cameron bites the dust, he will be assured of similar revelling, but to a different song (there are plenty out there).

It's NOT sexism, it's pure comtempt and hatred that runs through the nation.
Dearest Maria, you say: "Because if Thatcher had been a man, this witch nonsense would not have been on people’s lips." What a crock. Trust me, when Cameron bites the dust, he will be assured of similar revelling, but to a different song (there are plenty out there). It's NOT sexism, it's pure comtempt and hatred that runs through the nation. Newport Dave

9:32am Tue 16 Apr 13

Mr Stuart Parry says...

If thatcher was such a great role model for women, why did she not promote more women in any of her own governments? Perhaps she couldn't face another woman stealing her thunder, who knows? It's not as if she didn't have the opportunity to do so, is it? On another note, you have to expect reports like the one above. Consider first who employs the reporter (a little right wing Tory rag of a newspaper not even printed in South Wales) any actual criticism of the people you work for is biting the hand that feeds you, so it's pretty toothless really
If thatcher was such a great role model for women, why did she not promote more women in any of her own governments? Perhaps she couldn't face another woman stealing her thunder, who knows? It's not as if she didn't have the opportunity to do so, is it? On another note, you have to expect reports like the one above. Consider first who employs the reporter (a little right wing Tory rag of a newspaper not even printed in South Wales) any actual criticism of the people you work for is biting the hand that feeds you, so it's pretty toothless really Mr Stuart Parry

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