The death of Margaret Thatcher is a reminder of just what hypocrites feminists are. A woman who rose to the highest elected office in her country ought to be a heroine to the sisterhood, a source of inspiration and a model for emulation. Lady Thatcher incarnated what feminists are always exhorting their fellow women to do. Yet professional feminists, as exemplified by organised women’s movements of various sorts, have never admired her. It is probably not too much to say that many of them loathed her.
There are at least two reasons for this. One is that Lady Thatcher was never a feminist, except in the true sense (that all rational people are) of believing that being a woman should be no obstacle to rising in the world and breaking through that "glass ceiling" the feminists like to think stops women getting to the top in their careers (rather, say, than an individual’s inability or family commitments). But she was not a grudge-bearing card-carrying ideological feminist forever spouting sub-Marxist claptrap. She was not a feminist of the type that can only succeed in some artificially conditioned environment such as the academic world, where female promotion is as much a result of male terror at being thought "sexist" as of any specific talent. She competed against men on the terms imposed by the harsh world of politics, where nobody gets a soft ride. Nor, when she fell from power, did she blame "misogyny", as our own female Prime Minister constantly does for every real or imagined slight.
The other reason feminists disapproved of Margaret Thatcher is that she was a conservative, in both the large and small "c" senses. The feminist movement is innately left-wing, and is not really on behalf of women at all. Women are only its vehicle. Feminist theorists want to use women to revolutionise society. Women who co-operate with and accept the existing social order and make a successful career within it are seen by ideological feminists as quislings (perhaps they should be called Auntie Toms). Mother Teresa was disapproved of by feminists for similar reasons. She didn’t accept the existing social order and did her best to ameliorate it. But she didn’t preach revolution or suggest that women be ordained priests (most feminists have no time for Christianity but think that, if it has to exist, it ought to be feminised). So no kudos for her either.
Feminism is the greatest heresy of our age. It has censored our speech: we think we have freedom of expression but try writing for publication in "non-inclusive" prose. It has poisoned our social attitudes: feminism is not about the equality of men and women; it is about dividing society and pitting the sexes against each other. It has ruined the lives of women who have allowed themselves to be persuaded that traditional femininity is demeaning, that child-rearing at home is an obstacle to self-realisation and that marriage is legalised rape: many women who “left” their marriages in midlife, rather than stay "trapped" in what feminists told them was a prison, are now old and sad and lonely. It has destroyed objectivity and rationality in public discourse. Objectivity has been replaced by partisanship based on sex.
This is illustrated by the case of Julia Gillard. Australia’s Prime Minister is certainly no Thatcher and is never subject to the vituperative hatred (from, of course, the Left) that Thatcher endured. But what criticism there is, and it is increasing and is by no means limited to her political opponents, is portrayed by feminists not as legitimate points of view, as an assessment of her policies and character by politically uncommitted observers not bound by party loyalty and whose only interest is that the country be efficiently governed, but as "misogyny".
The Prime Minister, feminists maintain, is criticised because she is a woman, not because she has been a disaster as Prime Minister. It would seem to follow, according to this logic, that because she is a woman it is unthinkable that her policies could be at fault, or that she might ever merit criticism. (Of course it’s not, because Margaret Thatcher was a woman and her policies were constantly criticised, not least by feminists themselves. But as we have said, she was the wrong kind of woman).
A particularly egregious example of this subjective feminist partisanship could be found (where else?) in the shrunken pages of the Melbourne Age last week, from the pen of one Sally Young, described as an associate professor in the social and political sciences department of Melbourne University. Ms Young’s view is that the public has an unfavourable impression of Julia Gillard because that is how the media presents her, and it does this because the press has always presented women in a negative light. That’s because the media is run by men – and nasty patriarchal men, too. The fact that women abound in senior positions in journalism is not allowed to upset the feminist symmetry of this defence of Ms Gillard by a woman because she is a woman. Ms Young’s article made not the faintest attempt to understand what the Prime Minister is doing that is causing voters who couldn’t care less whether Australia is led by a male or a female to turn against her.
It used to be possible for civilised men and women to judge the quality of human endeavour in any field by standards that were at least intended to be objective. That some no longer can, preferring to base their assessment on common membership of a sex, is to reduce cultural conversation to the politics of the primary schoolyard. That is the achievement of feminism.
Christopher Akehurst blogs at Argus