Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A champion, an advocate, a leader, a fighter. A cultural icon. And, an Icon of Culture.
RBG, as she is referred to by many, served over 27 years as a Supreme Court justice and many more as an accomplished attorney and advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. In the notable case United States v. Virginia, her majority opinion held that the discrimination of women from the military institute on the basis of sex was unconstitutional. She has defended gay marriage, equal pay, and women’s reproductive rights in several cases. Her resilience empowered her success as a civil rights attorney, advocate for equality, and modern-day representation of cultural progress. From iconic SNL portrayals to her popular workouts, Justice Ginsburg has, directly and indirectly, won the hearts of thousands across the country as a pop-culture icon and symbol of feminism.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
RBG and Culture
Justice Ginsburg’s struggles of discrimination on the basis of sex affected her in many ways. From criticism for “taking a man’s seat” at Harvard Law School to hardship in finding a job due to her status as a young mother, Ginsburg exhibited grace and under pressure and resilience every step of the way. Her resilience in fighting this personal uphill battle as a young female lawyer inherently shaped the culture around her. Not only did RBG shape policies and laws through her opinions, but she also shaped our perspectives, liberal freedoms, and rights as they exists today. Despite being surrounded by men trying to hold her back, Justice Ginsburg broke barriers and helped us get closer to shattering the glass ceiling. Her perseverance has significantly influenced the cultural importance of diversity, differences, and inclusivity in our communities.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of her tenure as Supreme Court Justice is related to her friendship with late Justice Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg and Scalia certainly found themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum; however, they did not let the divisive nature of controversial and hot-topic issues come between their friendship. Ginsburg even admitted once that Scalia made her better. Their love for music, specifically opera, brought them together as well. Justice Ginsburg’s friendship with Justice Scalia yet again illustrates the culturally progressive mindset that she represented. Despite the difference in beliefs, Ginsburg was able to overcome the divisive nature of the bipartisan political system and focus on friendship, comfort, similarity, and joy. By doing so, she promoted a culture of acceptance and inclusivity, proving that the human connection is more powerful than superficial, external differences. It is this spirit of acceptance, love, empathy, and appreciation for the human connection that made Ginsburg not only an intellectual professional but also a loving friend.
A role model for women
Why do women look up to RBG? As author of best-seller Notorious RBG Irin Carmon stated in a 2017 Rolling Stones interview, “When people ask us, ‘Why are young women inspired by RBG?’ to us it’s such an obvious question that it’s hard to answer. We live in a society that most of the time really stigmatizes ideals of gender equality and feminism, and there’s this woman who has for decades been using her power in the highest court of the land for good. That’s a really big deal.”
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”
I’m a working female and a homeowner. I have the right to sign a mortgage without a man. I have the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer. I have the right to a job without facing discrimination based on my gender. The rights that I and my fellow sisters enjoy and cherish today are rooted in Justice Ginsburg’s judicial prowess, resilience, and brilliance. The fight against discrimination was systemic, yet Justice Ginsburg was able to effectively and successfully advocate for the progress that we see today.
RBG: Her Legacy
Justice Ginsburg perfectly embodies the balance between fierce power and gentle spirit. Her stature was a mere 5’1”, but her legacy is monumental and her influence is infinite. I hope that the generation of tomorrow learns about Justice Ginsburg, her resilience, her courage, and her impactful contributions to our country.
RBG: Resilience. Bravery. Greatness. Rest in Power, RBG. You’ve done your part — now it’s time for us to do ours.