When it comes to the feminist version of history (sorry — herstory!), it’s hurrah for Gloria Steinem. She started a magazine nobody ever read. And cheers for Billie Jean King, the tennis player who proved a young professional athlete could beat a 55-year-old slob.
Give it up for Indira Gandhi and Hillary Clinton, who proved that you could sweep into power on the coattails of your dad or husband, and by all means let us celebrate Oprah Winfrey, who proved that you could spin mystical mumbo-jumbo, airy empowerment talk and perpetual wounded victimhood into a billion-dollar sisterhood racket.
What about the most important woman of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher, the subject of this week’s Oscar contender “The Iron Lady”? Here feminists get quiet. Demure, even. They let the gentlemen take over the conversation while they retreat to the next room.
Or else they attack her. In her first campaign to lead Britain, in 1979, a popular slogan launched by feminists was “We want women’s rights, not a right-wing woman.” (In her 1983 campaign, the Left boiled this down to “Ditch the bitch.”) A newspaper columnist put the common feminist view thus: “She may be a woman, but she is not a sister.” Opponents in Parliament dubbed her “Attila the Hen.”
“I owe nothing to women’s lib,” Thatcher said, and at another point she remarked, “The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”