In the days since her passing, long serving liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been described as a: champion; defender; feminist icon; heroine; inspiration; leader; radical; role model; thinker; trailblazer; and visionary. The brilliant legacy she leaves behind is as multifaceted as Ginsburg’s role as “the embodiment of hope for an empowered future” for women all around the world.
To study the extraordinary life of this second-ever woman to sit on the US Supreme Court is in itself an inevitably inspiring act. Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught us: that women are worthy and deserving of equal rights; that having a brain full of opinions is an asset; that institutionalists can dissent in precise and powerful ways; and that there are many moments in life when taking offense and arguing is appropriate (“Better bitch than mouse.”).
For it was with one considered argument at a time that this formidable incrementalist chipped away at the gender discrimination enshrined in her society’s legislation. As a lawyer, Ginsburg successfully argued cases that translated into greater possibilities for American women in many domains of life. She persisted without wavering despite spending her entire life navigating environments such as Cornell University, Harvard Law School, the legal profession, and the Supreme Court where women were underrepresented, if represented at all: “I went to Cornell university. There were four men to every woman. So, for parents of girls, it was the ideal place because if you couldn’t find a man at Cornell, you were hopeless.”
At Cornell, the young Joan Ruth Bader did find a man – her future husband Martin Ginsburg – who she described as “a partner truly extraordinary for his generation, a man who believed at age 18 when we met, and who believes today, that a woman’s work, whether at home or on the job, is as important as a man’s.” Their marriage exemplified their shared commitment to equality; Martin Ginsburg’s support in the home and in the public sphere was essential for her to pursue her life’s work.
Work that embedded the emancipation of women into American law; progress that has marked and moulded lives in ways many will never fully appreciate. A lifetime of work that has given those of us remaining the faith to carry on with the work that is still to be done.Support Villainesse