Chapter 1. “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

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Margaret Thatcher was the first woman to become Prime Minister of the UK. It has been claimed, however, that she did little for the cause of women. Part of the problem is Thatcher made clear that while she was a woman she thought of herself as a politician first. In this chapter we consider the linguistic consequences of adopting such a position, and we argue that Thatcher used specific discourse structures conducive to the adversarial style of the British parliament. As this style has been equated with male discourse patterns some argue that Thatcher adopted male linguistic norms. However, adversarial styles are not inherently “male” and we consider whether Thatcher was speaking like a man or merely as a politician.


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