Helen Mirren has said that Margaret Thatcher was a role model to young girls, because “she was a role model for a little-three-year old girl [to think] that she could become the Prime Minister of England.”
I was a little girl under Thatcher. And let it be known that I never thought that. From a very young age, Thatcher instilled me with a sense of disgust at mainstream politics, a persistent sense that they were out to ruin my life and take things from me. Thatcher took away my ability to believe I could be anything, she took away my hope of ever living stably. It’s what she did to my generation of little girls. It’s what she did to kids of all genders who grew up under her.
Us millennials are often criticised for our apathy, but we grew up thinking nothing was worth it in the face of an all-powerful system intent on keeping us in poverty or shit jobs (and all too often, both), living precariously. That was Thatcher’s fault. She started it, and we watched it metastatise as we got older. She empowered some, it’s true: those determined to destroy the lives of others. The rich, the bigots, they’re probably quite happy.
So she wasn’t so much a role model as somebody who crushed a whole host of kids like me into thinking we could never become anything, let alone Prime Minister. And even if we had dreams, what were these dreams? We could no longer be Britain’s first woman PM, because Thatcher had stolen that chance, too. We’d live in her shadow, constantly compared, and have to rebuild what was ruined, or be complicit in her destruction.
There’s a pervasive thought, and one which is absolute bollocks on scrutiny: that when a woman occupies a position of power, she is automatically doing good by being inspirational. It is an absolute nonsense. Thatcher could have been of any gender, and she still would have been a force of evil. There is little inspirational to the people who need to be inspired about seeing someone who happens to be the same gender as them ruthlessly slicing up the present and grinding the future into dust.
Young girls are not just malleable lumps of clay, ready to be shaped by whatever rose-tinted vision is plonked in front of them. Young girls think critically. We see monsters for the monsters that we are. Little girls are cleverer than you think, and most of us drew little positive from Thatcher.
4 thoughts on “No, Helen Mirren, Thatcher wasn’t an “incredible role model””
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It’s not often I read something with this amount of surprise. I grew up under Thatcher too (can’t remember the government before hers), so she was a major influence on my political development, and she’s pretty much who I judge all Tories against. David Cameron is trying to be like her, but he’s just a bandwagon jumper. I admire that she stood her ground on what she believed was right, but she ruined this country. The right to buy your council house night have been good idea, but because that money wasn’t invested into new properties, we now have a housing crisis and private landlords charging the earth. I was appalled that she was given a full state funeral. Churchill deserved that, even though he was a Tory as he got us through ww2. I can’t think if another politician I’d extend that too though.
What kind of three-year-old wants to be prime minister/president/whatever? When I was three I wanted, as far as I can remember: a Krispy Kreme glazed donut, my favorite picture book (it was about a train, I think), and for the gigantic grasshoppers that infested our back yard to stay OFF me. I don’t think I even knew that those talking gray blobs on our black-and-white tv were people when I was three.