The final chapter I wish to discuss is ‘Prima Dona’, which refers to Margaret Thatcher, the first (and only to date) female prime minister of the United Kingdom. She paints a bleak picture of a power hungry woman who ‘turned herself into a man’9. She creates the image of a woman, who tricked the world into believing that she was actually a woman when really she was ‘in [the] male uniform’10. She goes on to describe this trick in more detail.She claims that the biggest deception she used was her handbag, which gave her an air of feminism. By having this symbol of something which is truly the reserve of a female, she created the myth that she was an everyday woman; someone the women of the time could aspire to be. Smith claims this is a fraud and that she never contained the characteristics of feminism (she refers to her having a live in nanny only days after the birth of her first son) and that she is a bad role model for not celebrating her status as a woman.
Smith also claims that Thatchers’ success was built on the failure of other women, and tries, to describe the female population as having suffered terribly under the rule of Thatcher, (she refers to the number of females who lost their job due to her economic policy). The first thing to mention is that, no matter what part of the political spectrum you subscribe to, men and women suffered equally, if not men more through the ashamed nature of not being able to provide for their family, through Thatchers’ economic policies.Smith also does not take into account the fact that many working women also have childcare issues and employ nanny services in order to return to work. Smith should see this not as the shedding of female responsibility, (and here is where I think she becomes inconsistent) but as the adjusting of the female state of nature, to the stresses and obligations in the public sphere.It is my belief that females who strive to be successful do not take on the characteristics of men, but rather share universal qualities of Lawyers, Doctors, Pilots and all other professions where men and women work side by side, especially in this case, Politics. If you were to ask women who the most prominent female in the past 50 years has been in the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher would undoubtedly be top. I believed she managed to celebrate her female status by having children, a family, and being a successful and respected member of the public sphere.When Smith argues that she was a ‘bossy female’11, it is hard to not draw parallels with Radical Feminists and I believe it was this quality that, far from turning herself into a man, established her dominance over her male cabinet.
Although Joan Smith clearly does not represent the whole chapter of Feminism, her writings subscribe to Radical Feminism. The question asks us whether or not Feminism presents an overly simplistic view of power operation in modern societies, yet there are many different types of feminism and many different types of power you can discuss.Using the specifics I have, it can be argued that many of Smiths’ arguments fall short of the whole truth and, as demonstrated when referring to the movies, is selective with her sourcing.
This is not to say that her views are wrong or even that they are not well explained, rather that in order to make her point, she may have sidelined evidence that could have introduced an element of doubt into her argument.One could finally argue that Smith does not take enough account of those women who have made successful careers and brought up families. It could therefore be argued that she is not progressive enough for modern political ideology, based on her conflicting ideas on the proper place of the female in the Private and Public Spheres’. Finally, radical feminism, like any other ideology, is an ideal, and whether right or wrong, like most ideologies, I believe does provide an over simplistic view of the operation of power in modern societies.