Does the smiling bride in this photograph seem ever-so-slightly familiar? That's because this is Margaret Thatcher in 1951, 8 years before she won her first election. In fact, it's before she "prettied" herself up in order to win that election, if the new film Margaret Thatcher — The Long Walk To Finchley and her former Parliamentarian Edwina Currie are to be believed. In her first two races, when she ran like a man would run, she kept losing so, according to the film and Currie, on the advice of her husband "She lightens her hair, modulates her voice from strident to low and sexy, wears tops that show a hint of cleavage and skirts that display a flash of leg," and then goes and cries to the guy in charge of picking candidates that she's being held back because she's a woman. We'd all like to believe that things have changed. But, I think after this primary season, we all know better that they haven't. And since they haven't, are you being smart by playing along, or stupid by giving in?
Most of the criticism thrown at Hillary Clinton was that she was too mannish somehow — similar to the way in which similar criticisms were levied at Margaret Thatcher later in her career. What is it about standing up to men that makes a woman "mannish," and why is that a bad thing? To the contrary, while Clinton may have worn pants the entire campaign, she made it a point to eschew the black pantsuits for which she had become known in Washington for ones in a variety of jewel tones and earthy colors. Her hair was always impeccably colored, it was rarely out of place and a relatively flattering cut. She never forewent make-up or jewelry like certain bloggers I see in the mirror every morning, and I have, more than once, seen her in a pair of cute kitten heels that I coveted. But, still, "mannish" was how she was tarred. If she's mannish, I'd hate to see what women would have to do to be considered womanly.
On the other hand, Thatcher reportedly started her career trying to be like the men in politics and shifted gears to get elected. Would I want to win a political race if it took flirting with old guys all day? And pretending to be just another housewife looking to make a difference? Can you win in politics on your own terms? The lack of single, childless women in Congress and the Administration (with the notable except of Condoleezza Rice), makes me wonder.