A Legacy to Women

The Spectator 13 April 2013

The blows Margaret Thatcher struck against socialism at home and the Soviet empire abroad are her most noted achievements. But an even greater legacy was bequeathed to her sex.

She was and will always be supremely significant to women. Unlike other women to whom she is often compared, she compromised no essential aspect of her personality.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, consciously displaced what femininity she had to reveal a drive for power; Eva Peron forsook her rationality, if ever she had it; Sarah Palin her dignity. Thatcher sacrificed nothing, except perhaps her relationship with her children. She made use of everything.

She was also singular in that in her success in capitalising upon her femininity, she has had no equal in political history, yet she had no use for feminism as a doctrine. She achieved things no woman before her had achieved, exploiting every politically useful aspect of a female persona and disproving every conventional expectation of women. She proved herself a rebuttal to several millennia’s worth of assumptions about women, power, and women in power. For women now aspiring to power, there is history before Thatcher and history after; no woman in politics will ever escape the comparison.

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