Margaret Thatcher had 120 hair appointments each year
So much is said about feminism and female emancipation, that any change is usually put down to trendy writers, and broadcasters. Names like Germaine Greer, Iris Murdoch, and even the Mitford sisters come to mind. Or perhaps Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, of what was then Ceylon, and of course, the Ghandi name might also ring a bell or two. Perhaps Israels Golda Mier, might also be remembered – famed for her leadership during the Yom Kippur War, or Bodica, as she slashed her way through the Roman hoards? Because, all these strong females have served to change the way we have looked at women throughout the ages – and into the 21St Century – including most recently, the brave, indomitable, and resolute Labour Party MP, Jo Cox.
But in my mind, it was Margaret Thatcher who released the Ginny from the bottle, and turned a generation – of very often quite ordinary women – from being domestic harridans, into becoming politically aware, and a motivating force in society. Now, in significant parts of Europe, and far more than otherwise might have been reckoned, many women offer a strong voice for the less fortunate in our society, leaving the resolution of Europs ongoing trials and tribulations, in safe hands.
This lady was not for turning
It seems that woman-kind might also have become our future peacemakers. Keeping their otherwise aggressive male counterparts in check, and restraining the usual male obsession with conflict; might all seem to be a little far fetched, but not so. These days, it is clear from studying the media alone, that more women are taking top job’s in government and commerce than ever before. But, how did this all come about?
When timid and effeminate Edward Heath was British Prime Minister, all hell was let loose when the price of crude oil went off the clock. This caused a Tory Party leadership election to take place, whereupon a rather ambitious Minister for Education emerged as the new party leader, all ready to fight the 1974 general election.
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.
Much has been said about how Margaret Thatcher hardened her image at the time; and her diction, but whatever it was she did change, it also changed how many British women saw themselves, how they acted, dressed, and especially, how they had their hair done!
The political significance must also be seen as a game changer, because it was a time when traditional working class women and Labour supporters, changed their politics and their image, almost overnight. With voices constantly raising in decibels – often mimicking the sounds of the Shires and Home Counties – prim smart suits could now be seen in the high street, with determined looking women wearing them.
Purchased from the likes of Marks & Spencer, gone were the 60s mini skirts and the Twiggy look, to be replaced by a regiment of smart sartorial look-alikes, both grim faced, businesslike, and off to work. In the industrially scarred North East, in the Welsh valley’s of gray rain, in the chattering drawing rooms of Belgravia, in the back-to-back houses of Slough, and even the schtetal’s of North London, these newly emancipated women started to assert themselves in a world which they had always hoped for, but never expected. As an onlooker, you might ask me how I knew all these amazing things were actually happening?
With Bernard Ingham, her most ardent admirer and advisor
But it was the hair that was the giveaway. Like a lot smug enfranchised Barbie Dolls – with their robotic stares, and their cut-glass, metallic voices – for me at least, it was all very hard to ignore. But what did these robotic voices have to say? Well, that was the easy bit, because all they had to do was to repeat what Margaret Thatcher had said the day before.
Oh dear! Here we go again
Introducing this ‘Grimmer Barbie’ to the new world of politics, philosophy and of course The Common Market – Margaret Thatcher was very keen on that – as time passed, and her demeanour hardened, and her cabinet became more servile, so her impersonators also became more aggressive. Woe betide a recalcitrant greengrocer or butcher who ignored these ladies, in their quest for instant service, and the horrifying ignominy it would provoke, if they happened to do so!