On Monday, as the remembrances poured in, it was her status as a female trailblazer – as well as, by the way, an often disastrous yet perpetually reelected world leader — that found its way into much of the postmortem conversation. The Telegraph dubbed her “the ultimate feminist icon” while in Slate, Lionel Shriver recalled her “muscular feminism.” It was an unusual assessment of a woman who once said, “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.” Yet the persistent notion seems to be – sure, she was reviled to such an extent that people wrote songs wishing for her demise, but hey, she got a lot of attention and she was successful in a man’s world, so … partial victory, ladies?
I’m going to go with a “no, thanks” on that one. I felt much the same way in 2008, shuddering when a female friend declared that even if Obama didn’t win, we’d have a woman as a vice president — and isn’t that an advancement for women? (Spoiler: It is not.) Women in leadership who are frighteningly bad leaders are not a win for the team. A lady – any lady, like, say, the one who helped cripple labor unions and led her nation to record-breaking childhood poverty – is not now or ever will be cause for any sentence starting with the phrase, “Say what you will about her but…” something something feminism.