Monday 8 April 2013


We lost two icons today and to be frank, they could not be more opposite in their constitution, contribution or regard. Isn’t life amusing that way. One of course is the ex Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, deemed the Iron Lady. With a moniker like that you can get a good idea of how she was regarded by her countrymen (or most of them anyway). The other is Annette Funicello, not really known on foreign shores, who was greatly beloved in the United States as a former member of the Mickey Mouse Club and legend as an all around Disney Darling. Did I tell you they were different or what? It of course got me thinking about one’s legacy and how one’s lifetime of service, creativity or contribution to the world will be regarded upon their death. 

In regards to Thatcher, she is probably one of the most contentious figures in British history. You say her name in certain circles and things get downright vitriolic. But I will readily admit that I was a bit shocked (and then again, not shocked at all) to see several people’s remarks and actions (online and in the press) in lieu of her death. I can be as political as the next guy and trust me I have profound feelings about (most) American politicians, but upon their death, I will not be shouting from the rooftops that I am glad they are dead. It’s just not my style. Would I say I disagreed with their politics? For certain. Would I say that I think they did a great disservice to their people in a variety of ways? Of course. But call me crazy, or human, but I would not wish them a swift passing into the confines of hell just because I did not agree with their policies (the exception of course is contributing to mass genocide). But hey, that’s me. As I said, Lady Thatcher is a very polarising figure and for many in this country she represents the fundamental thing that is wrong with government. And that I will leave to them; it’s not my country and I have a hard enough time making sense of the current Tory party to make room for feelings about their predecessors. [Although I can't help but wonder, if so many people hated her, who the heck voted her in and why was she in power for 11 years?]

But I will say, that as a feminist who thinks this world is still very much a patriarchal society that deems strong hard-lined women as ‘bitches’ and hormonal monstrosities, I appreciate that a woman ran this country that I live in for as long as she did and deem her a pioneer in politics as far as women are concerned (like her or not). Go ahead, curse my name from the rooftops for that sentiment.

On the other end of the spectrum the United States is mourning the passing of an icon that represented the days when things were saccharine sweet, and life was whittled down to a song, sung on a beach towel with a cute boy you fancied. That was the basic gist of any beach movie starring Frankie Avalon and Annette. Trust me, my sister and I loved them and used to watch them all the time. She was adorably cute, as was he, they both sang well, wore cute bathing suits and the worst thing that took place in the films was when Frankie’s hair got messed up when he took to the water to surf (although mysteriously, even that didn’t mess up his coif). Personally, I think the best part of that era was that you didn’t know too much about them aside from their image, which was poured over and guarded like Fort Knox. Annette was never photographed stumbling out of a club, was never caught in a scandal, and always seemed greatly appreciative and genuine as to her success and place in the Disney realm. She went on to become diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I will say that even in the face of that, she handled it with a dignified smile and elegance.

The feminist in me can’t help but look at these two women and ponder the great differences in their constitution and contributions and how they were perceived because of it. One was at the pinnacle of power, was known to many for being ruthless, and was deemed made of iron - not to mention a whole host of other dark and ungodly things - due to her political machinations (their words, not mine). The other was heralded for her saccharine and innocently sweet constitution, a woman that no matter what age, looked adorable as she proudly held hands with a giant mouse. I can almost hear my Women Studies professor now on the opening day of class ruminating over this great divide; ‘this semester we are going to deconstruct the women of history and their place and affect on society. From the Iron Lady to a Mouseketeer!’

And may they rest in peace. 

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