Last week I finally saw The Iron Lady, the new movie about the life of Margaret Thatcher. Although Meryl Streep (nominated this morning for a Best Actress Oscar) was a triumph, the film was somewhat disappointing; a New York Times reviewer said it spent more time portraying Thatcher as “a widow and half-abandoned mother” than the political trailblazer she was.
There’s enough there for another blog post, but today I’ve been thinking about the movie’s title. The Soviets were the first to dub Thatcher the “iron lady” for her resistance to communism, but the term has also been used for other female heads of government.
Apparently we still find it so remarkable for a woman to display strength that we have to give it a nickname.
The two words also describe the the tightrope we walk as leaders. Women who have achieved any measure of success understand some things: the need to sometimes walk just shy of flirting to charm our male colleagues, how to lead a group without being the person in charge, the influence of appearance. We learn when to be firm and when to yield and how to be strong while appearing to yield. We realize no matter what we do we will at some point be called a……witch. We know the importance of retaining our femininity while demonstrating traditionally masculine traits, even if we’re not always sure how to do it.
Ladies, can you relate to this (and will you admit it)? Gents, what do you think–am I just being cynical? Or is there an “iron curtain” that makes it harder for women to have power?