As Gloria Steinem said, “She’s the closest thing to a superhero I know.”
And she’s right. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your politics are, or what religion you are, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the crusader for equal rights for all.
RBG became a Supreme Court Judge in 1993 winning her US Senate confirmation by a vote of 96-3. Prior to this, she argued successfully before the court on some of the most significant issues of the time…for equality for everyone, not just women. For her, it was about fairness for all.
Last week I discussed the concept of a blank canvas, as a starting point…a fresh start. Like many women in the 1950s, RBG wasn’t able to start with a blank canvas. After attending Law School as one of 9 women in over 500 students in her class, she started out with 3 strikes against her: she had trouble getting a job at a New York law firm because she was a woman, she was Jewish (when at that time firms had just started hiring Jewish men) plus she had a young child. It didn’t matter that she was bright (making the law review twice) and equally (or more) qualified to get a position in any firm she desired. She eventually became a champion for the underdog arguing that equality was everyone’s right.
During my first pregnancy, in the early 1970s, I was working as a receptionist at an oil company. At that time employers were not accepting of pregnant women working in such a public position…being the first person a visitor or client would see as they walked through the door. My husband was an articling student and I was the one providing for our household. Having an unplanned pregnancy and losing my job ( for that reason) would have been difficult financially. I was able to hide my pregnancy for seven months and thankfully management allowed me to work for my full term. This was a relief as the Canadian government only compensated for a 2-week maternity leave.
Also, during my twenties, after I had my two children, I decided that I wanted a tubal ligation. You can only imagine my dismay when I had to get my husband’s permission before this surgery could be performed.
Times have changed. Today pregnancy is revered. With the assurance that a new mother’s job will be held during a one year paid maternity leave and employers offering more flexibility such as opportunities to work at home or job share, it’s possible for young families to have a healthy start.
RBG thought that reproductive rights were not so much about abortion but about the right for women to make their own choices without government intervention…not treating women like they were children. This is “pro-choice”.
In spite of the seriousness of Ginsburg’s career, there is also a playful side to her personality as this quote demonstrates. She is also an ardent opera fan and once appeared in an opera along with the late Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia, who also shared her love of the opera.
There are many reasons to admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To understand more fully the contributions Justice Ginsburg has made to today’s society, I highly recommend watching the CNN documentary on RBG.
RBG has no plans to retire anytime soon. Since successfully battling two bouts of cancer she does strenuous workouts and weight training to maintain her strength and fitness. Through her efforts to assure equality for all, (a blank canvas), at 85, she has become a pop culture icon!
P.S. A movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career will be coming this Christmas. I can’t wait to see it.