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Margaret Thatcher: If You Want Anything Done, Ask a Woman

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man — If you want anything done, ask a woman.” — Margaret Thatcher 1982.

Margaret Thatcher, known best as the ‘Iron Lady’ and former Prime Minister of Great Britain (from 1979-1990), will forever be remembered as the United Kingdom’s most powerful Prime Minister since the days of Winston Churchill.

She entered government during difficult times, and is largely credited to turning things around. Labor Unions were on strikes for various reasons, and the nation’s economy was facing recession. As the first ever woman Prime Minister, and leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher put a plan into action. She privatized public housing and formerly nationalized enterprises such as coal, iron, steel, gas, electricity and water supply, and restricted some of the power of trade unions. Her riskiest move of all was the way she tried to control inflation. She believed inflation was a disease of money and only controlling the money supply could cure, and that she did. During her tenure, inflation fell from 27% in 1975 to 2.5 % in 1986.

She never lost an election, and won wars — most notably the Faulkland Islands. She forged a key alliance with President Ronald Reagan, where Britain and the US became the most powerful allies in fighting the Cold War.

Born into a middle-class family in Grantham, Lincolnshire (13 October 1925), Martha neither knew great lack or great privilege in her youth.

Margaret’s father, Alfred, was the single biggest influence in her life.

He stressed the importance of handwork and duty, and always asked her to form her own opinions on matters. She graduated from Oxford in 1947, with a degree in Chemistry, and was the first in her family to go to University. In 1951 she met Denis Thatcher, a wealthy divorced businessman, with whom she married and had two sons. He funded her continuing education, which enabled her to become a barrister. This man must have been an incredible man for knowing and understanding who Margaret was and supporting her in her dreams. And she was also quite grateful.

When she finally resigned as Prime Minister, she asked the Queen that Dennis not she, be given an honorary title, as Sir Dennis.

As much as she didn’t have many close women friends and enjoyed the company of men, she had no qualms about her identity as a woman. When running for premiership, she explained, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home, will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”

Respected by Presidents, World Leaders, and civilians Margaret Thatcher will be remembered as a strong politician who was never afraid to put up a fight for her country. I can’t wait to see the new movie coming out that features Meryll Streep as Mrs. Thatcher. I hear that the movie is not so kind to her, but in the world of politics, even the kindest of women is fair game.

Marchesa Casati: A Living Work of Art

When we think about pioneering women, we think of women who have broken boundaries in different arenas. But pioneering women have many faces. Take for example the first American dare devil woman, Annie Edson Taylor, who was the first person ever to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. The good news is that she survived, and went on to make a career for herself. Yes, you might wonder “what was she thinking about?” But, there is no rhyme or reason to following what takes hold of you.

Luisa, Marchesa Casati was another one of those eccentric women who marched to the beat of her own drum. And, in the meantime, she became a fashion icon, a muse to many of the most well known artists of her era. She invigorated European fashion, and will be forever remembered by her striking visage, ensembles, and entourage. In 1881 she was born into a world of privilege and grandeur. Her father was given the title Count Amann by King Umberto I himself. An Italian heiress of incredible wealth, her parents died when she was only 13 years old, leaving her and her sister an immense fortune – one that she would spend creating her fantasy dream world.

She bought a grand villa in Venice, which would later become the home of another extravagant woman, Peggy Guggenheim. There she would have some of the most talked about masquerade balls in Europe. Imagine Luisa Casati entering the room in her characteristic cadaverous makeup, shocking red hair, and coal-rubbed-eyes and her fantastical clothing ensembles that resembled costumes. Think Cher 1980s but on steroids! Of course, Cher never dared to walk around town with a leashed cheetah or wear a boa constrictor as a necklace. But Casati’s famous words encapsulate her philosophy on life, “I want to be a living work of art.”

She wanted to create a life and image of herself that was beyond convention, but purely based on imagination. As the famous Laurel Thatcher Ulrich used to say, “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” – and this one-of-a-kind woman sure made an imprint in the annals of history.

Never mind the big parties, and the grand lifestyle, Casati was able to inspire generations of artists, poets, and fashion designers. In September 2003, Karl Lagerfeld provided a portfolio of sketches and photographs of Marchesa Casati for for The New Yorker magazine. Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford have also looked to Casati as a muse.

Although I am not one that is drawn to fantastical or extravagant life, I can still appreciate Casati’s choices because she showed a certain kind of boldness and confidence that is rarely seen. The lesson learned here, is that when you are truly being yourself and expressing your individualistic style, there is a level of authenticity that resonates with people. And this, in turn, moves others to do the same.