A closer look at The Iron Lady
Prof Steinberg will talk about the legacy, influence of the late Margaret Thatcher
September 17, 2013, 5:51 pm · Updated September 17, 2013, 7:54 pm·
Wednesday, students will have the opportunity to get a closer look at the woman alternately known as “The Baroness,” “Maggie” and “The Iron Lady”: Margaret Thatcher.
In memory of Thatcher’s legacy and influence today, Jonathan Steinberg — the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History — will deliver a lecture titled “The Life and Times of Margaret Thatcher” at 5:30 p.m. in room 350 of Huntsman Hall.
Sprouting from College junior John Cheoʼs personal effort to venture beyond the nickname of “The Iron Lady” and social mediaʼs polarized reactions to Thatcher’s death earlier this year, this evening’s lecture event will try to clear the fog surrounding the former British prime ministerʼs achievements and reforms. With the sponsorship of groups such as Europenn, Penn Political Review and the Department of History, this lecture is meant to inform those who may have only heard Thatcher’s name and nothing more, Cheo explained.
Recently, The Daily Pennsylvanian was able to speak with Steinberg as well as some of the event organizers to ask them about their expectations for the event and their views on the late politician herself:
“Thatcher made more changes of a more fundamental kind than any British government since the post-war Labour Government introduced the Welfare State. She privatized everything she could, destroyed the trade union movement, presided over [the] Big Bang in the City of London which turned London into speculation city, the home of casino capitalism… Her significance today? We live in the world she helped to create.“ — Steinberg
“Iʼm very unlearned of Margaret Thatcher as a political ﬁgure; the whole idea of having such an event was to be able to ﬁll that gap that I think I have, and I think many other people have a very vague idea of Margaret Thatcher just as eveyrone has a very vague idea of iconic political ﬁgures. So, I personally respect Margaret Thatcher because she is a woman, as she was the ﬁrst female prime minister of the U.K. I respect her for breaking glass ceilings, for being able to break into power in what was, until then, a very all-boys-club kind of network. I think inevitably she is related with a certain authoritarian impulse that she was able to bulldoze her way through … and that’s why she is given the nickname, ‘The Iron Lady.’ But even the nickname itself betrays the very patriarchal status quo that we are judging her against. We donʼt call Obama ‘The Iron Man’ or any other male political ﬁgure for that matter, but precisely because she was female we needed to give her additional qualities of masculinity in order to justify why she was on the top.” — Cheo
“Hopefully this [event] will stimulate and encourage some people to write about issues like this for our magazine and our website. In terms of Margaret Thatcher herself, she is known to have a lasting legacy in politics on both sides of the Atlantic. She has her own brand of conservatism, she has her own brand of politics — both in her style and her substance — and those are things that I think have a lasting impact on how politics is conducted. That’s why I think it’s going to have a big turnout, why we are excited to co-sponsor this event. We want to be part of interesting discussions on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the spectrum.” — College and Wharton senior Urja Mittal, editor-in-chief of the PPR