“Iron Lady” – The Portrait of Confusing Roles: Wife, Mother, Woman, and Prime Minister

Who does not know Margaret Thatcher? If you have learned Social Sciences, you might already know and recognize her as one of the uniquely historical figures, not just in the United Kingdom but to the entire world. Her “unique” leadership made her be seen as a controversial figure. Meryl Streep has excellently acted and played the figure of Margaret Thatcher. In terms of the movie, if you learn the Feminist Ideas and Psychology on Literature, you can see that some miscellaneous things happened for and due to several reasons. You can learn many things from it. Now, let me tell you my analysis on this movie. I concentrated on viewing her as a leader, not as a woman, through the lens of psychological analysis. The concept of being a leader and her conception about being a leader that influence her position toward herself as an influential figure in making political and economical decisions in the parliament of the United Kingdom.

Margaret Thatcher in the Eyes of Feminist Ideas versus Political Standpoint

When I tried to understand the reasons behind the particularities of Margaret Thatcher as a “unique” political standpoint, I came to the idea that what she did was actually not in line with the Feminist ideas. Even though I a man, and genetically not a woman, it does not mean that I do not concern on what happens with women, for I have a mother and a sister in my life. If something bad happens to them, that means something bad happens to me, too. Of course, for some people, these aspects are not worth consideration because, as usual, people’s rhetoric is, “everyone is different”. To me, everyone is the same. It is only the language that makes us unreachable one another. From this point, I relate the ideas of Feminist versus Political Standpoint. I argue that coming into politic does not stop women to join and talk about politics. It is an excellent idea and image that women could deal with politics, but what bothers me is when the woman could not differentiate the issues of herself as a woman, a mother, and a leader of herself with what the position is demanded from her. In the case of Margaret Thatcher, I see that the two opposition sides conflicting one another: influences from the ‘Self’ and from the ‘Men’ (see below).

After following Margaret Thatcher’s career in politic and in her household, I see that being a woman is complex. At one point, Thatcher graduated from Oxford University, which was so excellent by the British people and the world until today. She had a strong willingness to be successful in the way she desired. She pulled out everything she has in order to voice women’s voices until she could become the prime minister. Surprisingly, things changed when she almost got into the top position in the Conservative party after she stood in the Education side, voicing what the teachers’ need. Her efforts were great, I would declare, but from the point of her becoming the Prime Minister in which all decisions were made from careful aspects, she turned into a person who did not want to listen. She had power to rule the country, but at home, she lost the most important thing that she has. It is her husband and children. At the beginning of her life, she seemed to be a nice woman, but at the end, after joining the training to be the “desired” leader, she began to wear a “mask”. She was trained to speak in such a way to convince the civilians through the political campaign until she became the Prime Minister. She might have a great persona as a leader, but because being a leader is not only about the ability to deliver a speech but also the ability to make careful decisions, Margaret Thatcher has fallen into her own shadow. Instead of ruling the country for the sake of finding the better solutions over the existing problems, she tended to listen to her own “logic”. The politic that she brought was actually the scene where she had as a household and her jealousy over her own gender. Once she became a leader with power, she lost her internal aspect of being a woman. She lost the aspect of being a mother and a wife. Seemingly, she mixed up being a leader in the household with being a leader in the politic. She then declared “revenge” in her heart to make other women who mocked her to see her as a powerful one. At some points, what Thatcher had in mind about her views about the politic was driven by her own spirit to be “better than men” instead of “better in quality as a leader”. The shadow that overdrawn her as a leader was her inability to cope with the soft and instinct she has in her heart, instead she disobeys this thing. Until this part is dead, she became a ruthless leader for the story of economic adjustment in the United Kingdom.

What does it mean to be a leader?

For me, I learn the value of being a leader from the Prophet Muhammad SAW. For Feminist ideas, prophecy might seem to be only “for men”. Why men? Why not women? Many questions like these were aroused and being circulated among various feminist scholars. They question the notion of “what all men”. The prophet Muhammad SAW had shown the value of compassionate, humble, integrity, sincerity, trustful, patience, and piety that mark the quality of a leader. If a leader could not differentiate what is important with what is not for his or her leadership, that leader will face total disabilities and problems to cope with many demands from many parties concerning the decision making in politics and in using the power to create useful impacts for the civilians. The prophet Muhammad SAW (pbuh) declared that a leader could not be a leader of a country if he or she could not lead himself or herself. Being a leader needs a high demand of sacrifice from the influence of ego, of daring to listen, of showing the great attitude, and of being able to make meaningful decision that does not victimize people on a larger view in politics. For some people, it is easy for them to criticize that being a leader is this and that. Before becoming a leader of a country, we need to be the leader of our own selves and to be responsible for everything we do in our lives. It is not easy to be a leader, but if someone could lead himself or herself into a proper ways, that person would become a magnificent leader. Leadership is also about how the leader feels what happens among the civilians, not just what he or she hears in the media or television. The leader has to come to the field and see the reality of what happened among his or her civilians.

A Confusing Role: Wife, Mother, Woman, and Prime Minister

As I have informed earlier, it is not easy to become a woman. I admit. That is why in Islam, a woman who could deal with multiple roles in her life, without losing herself as a woman, is the best woman. What does it mean? From the figure of Margaret Thatcher above, we can learn that the high demand that is being asked from the leader is the ability to carry herself as a leader and to solve problems happening in the country by finding relevant solutions. At the beginning of her political career, there seemed to be nothing wrong with what she did. She could deal with what she had to play. Once she began to be introduced into the position of the “prime minister”, she resisted in her heart, but her logic said, “Yes! It is the big time!” Now, when I looked at her position in her life as a wife, she began to lose control over herself. She enjoyed the time being together with her husband, but this sweet aspect is changed when she comes to public. There seems to be two conflicting characters at this point. Someone who is so lovely at home and someone who is so greedy of power and of wanting to be recognized by “Men”. As a mother, she was so lovely and caring, not until she became the member of the senate. No pain, no gain. That’s true. In here, everything seemed to be fine, even though two of her children were crying of knowing her to go to the parliament. When I see her as a woman, she was a pretty and smart girl with high enthusiasm to succeed in the political campaign. Until she married Dannish, she could lead her political career up to the high level, Prime Minister.

As a man, I understand that not only woman, man also needs to have his wife to be at home when he needs. It was a breathtaking scene when I saw that Dannish psychologically and biologically went far away from Margaret Thatcher to South Africa. As a woman and a wife, if she dared enough to control her family and to keep it safe, she might listen to what her husband needs. Then, when she became the Prime Minister of Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, she spent almost all of her times to deal with the work. What she lost here is the point of being balanced between work and household. I would think that women would feel the same way as Dannish does if they have a husband who worked too much, instead of being able to manage times between work and household. Twenty-five years seem to be enough for Dannish to let go what he felt toward the success of Margaret Thatcher as his wife. Seemingly, what makes him so sad was the idea of overdrawning too much to the politic until she lost her inner voice. The tremendous changes that she has, especially from the way she spoke, was the point where she began to wear a mask. Eventually, this mask turned her into the beast. She still had a heart to recognize what happens, but she denied it because she did not want to be portrayed as a weak leader. Well, what a confusing leader in history of the United Kingdom!

Lessons that I can take after watching this movie:

  • Being a leader is started from yourself
  • Following what your heart said is better than following what your mind said, for your mind can be manipulated by things around you
  • Starting to let go things that you desired the most with the things that you needs the most is essential for the well-being of ourselves
  • Feeling of happiness does not always take too far. Sometimes, this kind of thing is so close to ourselves, but often times, we denied it. Our family is the best place where we can feel secure and contemplate ourselves to think and reflect all what we have done in our life.
  • Being a loser for our own mistakes is better than being a loser of our own ego.
  • Trying to understand others is equally as important as trying to understand ourselves if we want to be a successful leader.
  • Being a leader is not easy. The very common thing that a leader has to face is to take the responsibility for everything he or she does. Therefore, in Islāmic ways, everyone is already a leader.
  • Having a goal in mind influences the way someone approaches his or her mission and vision as a leader. This goal might change when someone is too greedy on power and forget that in his or her leadership, the lives of everyone is in his or her hands. If you asked “God” at this point, He will not come to the earth and save the leader. It is the leader that should manage things within his or her leadership because God has made things easy for that particular individual to get the leadership position.

May Allah SWT adjusts the quality of decision-making for all leaders in the world! Essentially, the best leader is not just making peace, but it is also the one that creates stability and humane life among his or her civilians.

Worth watching? Yes, it is! You will see how impressionistic Meryl Streep in this movie is! Way to go Meryl Streep! I enjoyed your performance in the “Music of Heart”, too! Wish we could meet someday! 🙂

Money, oh, Money…

Indonesian Rupiahs
Money, money, and money... What is the power of money?

Money, oh, money…

Fifteen years ago, when I was just a little kid, my mother gave me money for about Rp. 500,- to buy a Rinso in a small shop next to our house. (Rinso is a detergent used for cleaning clothes in water). At the time, I bought only one Rinso. When I came back to my house and gave the Rinso to my mother, she said, “Thanks”. So, that would be the starting moment for me to understand what money is – as a kid. Money is used for daily needs.

When I grew younger as a teenager, I went to a senior high school in Padang city, West Sumatra, Indonesia. The school was in SMU Negeri 2 Padang. Unfortunately, my father, who was and is working as a gardener, had less money to buy all I needed to go to school.  Therefore, I had to study seriously in the school in order to get a scholarship so that my father and mother would not have big burden to pay my school fee. One year after I did my best at school, I got the scholarship. The teacher said, “Congratulation! You’ve got this scholarship! From now on, keep your study improving, okay?”. Yeah, I still remember that time. I got the scholarship in SMU Negeri 2 Padang until I could finish the high school well. This was the time when I had understood about money – as a teenager. Money is used for positive purposes.

In 2003 until 2007, I went to a university, which was famously known as Andalas University. I studied English language and literature in the university. In that year, fortunately, I got scholarship again. At the time, I knew that “if you got scholarship, you got money. If you got money, use it wisely”. During the time of my study in the department, I had to fulfil many things which I needed to support myself for my study. If I relied on my father’s salary – because my mother did not work, I would never be able to end the study well as expected. Anytime when friends wanted me to treat them, I had to say, “I’m sorry. I just could…” In seconds, they turned their back and left me sighing. In that condition, especially where I had to save all money I had for my study, I had got achievement as the Best Student of Andalas University. I got quiet a lot from this. However, the appreciation was really great, but, I wish I could get the first position because I wanted to have a notebook for typing my thesis. I just did things in the proper ways. I did assignments, went home early, and read some books. I joined some organization but ended with colourful endings. In this case, I learnt about money – as an undergraduate. Money is used to pay for your daily needs, especially your needs for education.

Interestingly, in the same time, I had another funny moment with friends, too. Since I knew that I was from poor family, that means we only could give ourselves common needs; therefore, I always remembered telling my friends that if I got scholarship or won from a competition, I would not be able to treat them like in a big club. I really realized that soon after treating them, I needed the money for other purposes. Then, in a very sad day, I had to loose a little of my money to help my mother bought an iron and some plates for our kitchen. And, I bought those things for my monther. In the following day, I had to borrow my friend’s money only for Rp. 10.000,- (in dollar means $ 10,-). They lent me some. On a Saturday night, I went out for a party in my neighbour. I only wore simple dress and casual since I did not really concern on style or performances. When I arrived there, some people stared at me, others saw me in such a bad eyes, and the rest ignored me as if I was not there. I made myself brave enough to enter the pool party. Someone, a boy, came to me and I still remembered his words, “Wow, smart student could not have great dress to intermingle, huh? You’re just a nerd. A nerd is a nerd!”. The other boys said, “Yeah, his friends are the books! Haha….! I bet your house is in the library!”. The worst thing was some girls said, “You are handsome, but, if you have no great outfit, you are just not better than them”. That day, my feeling was really torn apart because of money and “good-looking”.

Days and days passed. Since that moment, I had forgotten about it. A few months later, I went to Bandung with my father to visit my grandmother in Cipanas, Garut. We had some money to go to Bandung. I bought some dresses which I thought that they would be fit with me. The price was not really expensive and, of course, not in a very famous brand. All those things were made in Indonesia. When I came to Padang and came into one of friend’s birthday party, my friends said, “wow, you look great!”. What made me surprised was the people who said this were the people who said I was bad-looking before. In this way, I learn about money – as a young man. Money is used to show off your “social status” in the society. If you are poor, you should tun around. If you are rich, your pocket speaks. This is absolutely silly for me. (Until now!)

Now, after all things I have come through and seen lots of things which are related to money, I make one last conclusion. Although money is just money, but, in some condition, having lots of money can be a great way to realize great dreams, especially positive and good dreams for everyone. Money can be used to get what we want. Money is used for trading and business transaction. However, all I cannot understand is that how proud someone with his or her money and how pity someone is if he or she does not have lots of money (I knew pretty much how it felt when we were none, poor, marginalized, and unseen by the society). We have been separated our life into two things in almost everything. In this case, the two things are rich and poor. Then, in this condition, I just do not understand why some people do cruel things just for money. For example, murdering, seducing, raping, killing, robbing, and many other negative things just for money. People are in need of foods and good shelter out there. All they need is money? So, what makes all these things worse? Is it money? We can create our own way of life, and, in turn, that way will kill us all. As a young man now, all I can learn is, having lots of money is good as long as we can use for positive purposes to reach better and proper life together, now and forever, especially for all  kids and all people whom we love.


Your money will mean everything when you give it to the people in need – even just ‘a little’ (Syayid, 2011)