Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't say that Margaret Thatcher never did anything for feminism. I started this blog because of her.

More specifically, I started it because of the vitriolic, misogynist responses to her death from male socialists.

Disclaimer: I despise Thatcher, who was a monster for her atrocities against various peoples, including her destructive policies involving the Malvinas Islands and subsequent consequences for Argentinians, as well as her collusion with the tyrant Pinochet, who violently overthrew the oldest democracy in Latin America at the time in 1974. For a people's history of Thatcher, visit: For an interesting take on her and Pinochet, visit: It should be blatantly apparent that I loathe Thatcher and her neoliberal, war-mongering, class warfare that killed thousands and injured more. 

Moving on. The Morning Thatcher Died, my Facebook feed was one long, uninterrupted misogynist slur. The typically equality-embracing, working class defending, feminist critiquing Marxist men who dominate my Friends List were being something they usually are not: misogynist. To clarify, this blatant woman-hating was toned down by the afternoon, once several feminists had noticed and begun protesting it. But first thing that morning, it was overwhelming. 

It is important that comrades be able to separate genuine political critiques from hollow sexist attacks. The blatant misogyny I witnessed that morning came in the form of one-liners, often on top of images of Thatcher, stating: "Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead;" "The big bitch is dead;" "Rest in piss, cunt;" "Bitch;" and so on. Such gendered slurs should be unacceptable in circles that proclaim the virtues of equality and the value of feminism. 

In fact, these empty misogynist attacks actually served to cheapen and waste an opportunity for critical reflection on the damage done by Thatcher to feminism and the working class. Instead of wasting time with mindless knee-jerk gendered reactions to the death of a tyrant, Marxists should have been seizing the moment to raise awareness about exactly what she did that was so atrocious.

When I voiced critiques about this barrage of woman hating, I was met with objections to her policies, assurances that she was no friend to feminists, and accusations of liberal leanings (because liberals were whining that it was in "bad taste" to celebrate her death despite her crimes against humanity, something we shall see if they remember when George Bush II dies).

People seemed unable to differentiate my genuine concern about the sexist manner in which comrades were celebrating her death from a perceived approval of her policies. My objection against misogynist rhetoric did not negate my objection to Thatcher's role in the growth of neoliberalism and the exploitation of the international working class. 

One comrade posted that he thought men celebrating Thatcher's death constituted "violent rhetoric against women." (Please read that sentence closely because some commentators seemed incapable of critical reading and interpretation. It does not say "violence;" it says "violent rhetoric." It also specifies "men.") I have a deep appreciation of a male comrade's ability and willingness to recognize the potential harm done to women as a group by the profusion of misogyny that resulted from Thatcher's death. There certainly was something tribal and primal about the male socialist reaction to the news. It felt like the conclusion of a witch trial might have felt, a self-righteous, paternalistic celebration of the demise of some aberrant woman beast. I definitely felt intimidated and unsafe, as though the (distinctly gendered) hatred were somehow directed at me. This is unacceptable.

This is not a liberal cry to "play nice." I call for comrades to consciously avoid being misogynist, to become acutely aware of its presence, and to call out all instances of it, online and in person. This is a plea to eradicate sexism within our ranks to allow the free exchange of ideas and the unrestricted activity necessary to plan and execute a revolution. We must respect each other in order to stand in solidarity against the ruling class. 

UPDATE: Here is the only Thatcher obituary you need. Thanks to Richard Seymour for redeeming the Left (again), and thanks to the Wolfe for pointing it out to me. 


  1. great article! I was reading it, nodding along, then I tripped over the 'wicked witch' thing. I refused to say all of the above in celebrating Thatcher's death, except for that. I thought of it as an innocent and cutely referential way to celebrate and didn't even think about its sexist baggage. it is obviously gendered and has a long history of (ab)use against women, now that you mention it.


  2. Thanks for reading!

    Later, I learned that the "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!" phenomenon was huge in the UK, including a rise of that eponymous song to the top of the charts, which I find a fascinating, gendered expression of loathing for Thatcher.