I am deeply disturbed by the volume of misogynistic vitriol being spouted by certain members of the British public in the wake of Margaret Thatcher's death.
Politics has always appealed to me as a career. I care about people and I want what's best for my country - I want to go into a profession where I know I can make a positive difference. However, after seeing some of the rancorous comments regarding Margaret Thatcher's death I am now somewhat afraid of the dehumanising and misogynistic hatred that I might face in my future career.
What disturbs me the most is not that people are aggressively disagreeing with her politics, but that people are genuinely rejoicing at the death of another person - a mother and a grandmother. No matter how bad a person's actions are they still deserve a basic level of respect. Thatcher did not do anything that could possibly warrant this kind of vile behaviour.
I know that many like to say that Margaret Thatcher was a controversial politician but she was not a mass-murderer, nor a criminal despot. She was simply someone who tried to do the best she could for her country. I don't agree with a lot of things she did. I campaign heavily for LGBT right and Section 28 was clearly deplorable, but I can still praise Baroness Thatcher for her many successes. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she didn't just define a generation, but re-define a whole profession and what it means to be female.
What those who disagree with her policies are forgetting is the progress that Margaret Thatcher made outside of politics. Never before had we had a female Prime Minister. Never before had a woman been publicly regarded as a leader. That is what my generation will remember Thatcher as: A female leader. I was not born until three years after Thatcher's premiership ended, but I know that I am growing up as part of a post-Maggie society. I am growing up in a society where women can dream and know that they can achieve those dreams. I've grown up knowing that if I try hard enough I can thrive in any career that I want - and that's thanks to Thatcher. One woman has single handily managed to provide hope for all of the young women aspiring to achieve in what ever profession they want.
The scornful remarks directed towards Margaret Thatcher are distasteful, but ultimately they are harmful. The generations who have been inspired to achieve by this visible female leader are now directly feeling the effects of the malevolent conduct of the ignorant and the arrogant people who are failing to foresee the consequences of their actions. I've come to notice how most of the criticisms of Thatcher seem to in some way involve her gender. This is disturbing.
"Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" has grown in popularity as an anthem for those who did not believe in Thatcherism but unfortunately it is so much more. Aside from the aforementioned poor taste of celebrating someone's death, this song is perpetuating gender discrimination. Calling a woman a 'witch' is a long-establish example of misogyny - something wholly unacceptable in the twenty-first century. Ironically, one of the pioneers who made this treatment of women socially unacceptable is Margaret Thatcher herself.
How do those who are downloading this song expect young, career driven women to feel? Because as an aspiring politician I am now scared. I'm scared that I will have to face this kind of gendered discrimination and I'm scared that I live in a society that is unashamedly promoting a derogatory portrayal of women.
Downloading of this song is vindictive: it is vengeful towards Margaret Thatcher and it maliciously attacks years of female progress. What brings tears to my eyes is imagining that this loathing could one day be directed towards me; that my dream career could lead to me being subjected to derogatory heckling or excessive hate simply because of my gender. I'm not saying that I don't think people should be held responsible for their actions and I understand that difficult decisions have to be made that will always upset a proportion of people, but for the fact that many who are complaining are resorting to extreme sexist behaviour is distressing.
Margaret Thatcher proved that women everywhere could achieve in every aspect of life; she proved that women could rise to the top in male-dominated careers; and she afforded people like me limitless aspirations. We, as the British public, should not stand for the contemptuous behaviour that many of our contemporaries are displaying. We should stand for humility and respect. And ultimately, we should ask ourselves why we are allowing gender discrimination to continue unchecked, under the guise of criticizing a woman's political legacy.