Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

Would Margaret Thatcher have liked ‘The Iron Lady’?

I’m surprised that women have not questioned the substance of the film, The Iron LadyAll we’ve done is gush and goo over how well Meryl Streep plays an old woman with Alzheimers, how good the make-up is and how much Meryl Streep looks and acts like Margaret Thatcher.  Yes, ladies, Margaret Thatcher, one of the most prominent ‘one of us’ in the 20th Century.

The Margaret Thatcher I knew was a gutsy lady who took on one of the biggest and surely the oldest ‘old boys’ clubs, the British Parliament, to become the first female Prime Minister and then serve in that post for over eleven years.  She never backed down to the IRA who tried to assasinate her or even on the Falkland Islands whom many thought were hardly worth the effort.  She was a good friend of Ronald Reagan and the USA during the Cold War, and earned the title, The Iron Lady, because of her fortitude and uncompromising attitude.

But that woman isn’t in this film.  In her rare flashes of lucidity, she seems to question her earlier decisions–the IRA, the Falklands–is she really doing that?  How do they know?   Makes you wonder if IRA sympathizers wrote this, thinking they can get even because now she’s old and sick and can’t fight back . . . .

On top of all this, her dead husband is walking around reminding her that she was an MIA wife and mother, and her son won’t talk to her and her daughter is angry.  I’m angry too, we should all be angry that women are judged, even now, in the 21st century because we didn’t stay home with the kids.

I’m concerned too.  I’m concerned that no one has tried to set the record straight.  That the film has not caused an unprecedented amount of writing about the real Margaret Thatcher.  Perhaps we should be mindful of Thatcher’s own words . . . .

In February 2007, when she was already ill, she was honoured with a statue in the Houses of Parliament.   In a brief speech she said, “I might have preferred iron – but bronze will do … It won’t rust.”

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Haven’t yet seen it, but it seems the issue re: family vs. work is impossible to handle correctly.

    When a woman is portrayed as having an incredibly pressurized job, AND as the perfect wife and mother, I think it creates an unreal set of expectations for other women to strive for. (You must be a failure, if you can’t do it all, well.)

    Apparently Steve Jobs, too, for all his business successes (and failures) was no great shakes as a spouse or parent. I think it’s better, when portraying a real life person, to show them warts and all, than to try to sell them as almost perfect.

    I don’t believe all women are cut out for staying home with the kids, nor that they should be forced or pressured to do so. However, it can’t be easy for the kids to have a parent who’s never around, be he male or be she female. I think it’s entirely possible to be a great Prime Minister or President, AND be a crappy parent.

    I hope there are more movies and biopics that present a more balanced view of Madam Thatcher.

  2. Ann Ambrosio

    Love your blog site. I haven’t seen the movie, but surely will now. Ann

  3. Belinda

    I have seen the film and I agree with you one hundred percent. From the minute the credits rolled I felt like the film took away from who she really was. This was a woman who took on a male dominated arena, proved her detractors wrong, pulled Britain out of a recession economy, waged war with Argentina victoriously, survived a terrorist assassination attempt and I think that the message of the strength and courage she had was lost in the portrayal of her being a senile, fragile little woman hallucinating about her dead husband.

    When male leaders or icons are are portrayed as absent fathers and husbands in biopics the ultimate message is that they were “self-sacrificing” in putting the needs of the of their nation over the their own needs and those of their children, with their supportive little wives by their side through it all. In as much as the portrayal of Denis Thatcher was that of the supportive husband his appearances in the film were aimed at making her question her decisions and whether her successes as PM outweighed her failures not only as a PM but towards her family. With that said Meryl Streep is incredible in this film, totally deserving of her Oscar.

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