The only way to affect change, is to go against the grain.
If you know me personally, or have read a few of my blogs, you understand just how important gender equality is to me. Wanting to learn about one of the greatest feminists of our time, I picked up Notorious RBG.
Here is the Amazon review:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she has only tried to make the world a little better and a little freer.
But nearly a half-century into her career, something funny happened to the octogenarian: she won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg first made her name as a feminist pioneer are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute.
Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg’s family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.
Let’s dive into RBG’s bio, because at 83 years old and just 5′ 1″, this woman packs a punch. After graduating from Columbia Law School, RBG went on to become the first female to be accepted into the Harvard Law Review. She taught law at Rutgers and Columbia, where she became the school’s first female tenured professor. Having broken two barriers already, RBG was just getting started. She helped found the Women’s Rights Project within the American Civil Liberty Union, where she argued six landmark cases in front of the Supreme Court bench. In 1980, President Carter appointed RGB to the Washington D.C. circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. 13 years later, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton, where she can still be heard advocating for civil equalities. Despite diagnosis of two forms of cancer and the passing of her husband Marty, RGB remains dedicated to her work and refuses to miss a day in court.
RGB is a moderate liberal and supports women’s rights, workers’ rights, and the separation of church and state.
What an amazing woman. But it has never been an easy journey. As with the majority of us, RBG found herself blindly accepting the constrains of society. It wasn’t until she moved to Sweden to research a book she was co-authoring that her eyes where truly opened. It was here that she realized that women should have legal rights to their bodies, such as elective abortions. Here are a few examples,
Teachers complained that they were forced off the job the moment they started showing pregnancy, and sometimes before. The schools called it maternity leave, but it wasn’t voluntary or paid, and the teachers couldn’t get their jobs back unless the school felt like it. One military woman had received an honorable discharge for being pregnant, but when she tried to reenlist, she learned that pregnancy was a “moral and administrative disqualification.” None of these problems were new. What was new was that anyone thought it was worth it to complain about it.
I can not fathom losing my job, especially one in which I have been serving my country, because pregnancy is deemed a “moral disqualification.” It seemed that RBG was right: women did not have the equal rights to our bodies and we were suffering gravely for it.
With this realization, she began to take action. With every opportunity presented to her, RGB would fight for women’s rights in the law.
Now, after 20 years on the Supreme Court, RBG is most famous for her scathing dissents when civil liberties are at stake. RBG has argued for the rights of women everywhere when she read dissents for cases like Safford v. Redding, Walmart v. Dukes, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
I am thankful to RBG for making birth control and abortion a private and personal decision. I am thankful to RBG for supporting gay marriages, both in the law and in her personal life, having ordained multiple. I am thankful to RBG for upholding affirmative action in the university setting and for paving the way for many women to enter law as a profession. I am thankful to RBG for ensuring that men, like women, are entitled to benefits when their spouse passes.
Mostly, I am thankful to RBG for persevering through the many rejections and obstacles she has faced. She has made my path much clearer.
To back my words with a simple example, here is an observation RBG recently made,
Visiting Columbia Law School in 2012, where she had once had to lead the fight for women as the only tenured female law professor, RBG paused for a moment. “I passed a door this morning that said ‘Lactation room,'” she said. “How the world has changed.”
But there is still much work to be done. In order for general mentalities to change, more precedents must be set, and in this case, I am referring to legal precedents. RBG’s work has demonstrated that change will not happen if we do not have that awakening moment, like RBG’s in Sweden. Only once we acknowledge the problem can we set out to find a solution.
The Supreme Court is comprised of nine justices. There are currently only three women on the Supreme Court – which is half the number of the men. There is one African American justice and one Hispanic. But there are five white men, enough to create a majority on any issue. Until we have a more diverse Supreme Court, minorities will always be at a disadvantage.
In my life, what I find most satisfying is that I was a part of a movement that made life better, not just for women. I think gender discrimination is bad for everyone, it’s bad for men, it’s bad for children. Having the opportunity to be part of that change is tremendously satisfying. Think of how the Constitution begins. ‘We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union.’ But we’re still striving for that more perfect union. And one of the perfections is for the ‘we the people’ to include an ever enlarged group.
Well said, RBG. I hope in my lifetime to see your version of a perfect union my reality.
Who has paved the way for the issues important to you and your life? Let us know below.