You’ve all heard of the Notorious R.B.G. She’s the oldest sitting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She’s 84 years old, 1.55m tall, has survived two cancers and wears a “Super Diva” -sweatshirt to her twice weekly exercise class with her personal trainer (army reservist Bryant Johnson), that includes fullpush ups, planks and squats (she’s said she also does the Canadian Air Force exercises almost daily). She’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I’m a huge fan. (She’s also the one who famously dozed off on the front row, where the Supreme Court were seated, during President Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2015. She later said “I wasn’t 100 percent sober when we went to the State of the Union. I vowed this year: just sparkling water, stay away from the wine. But in the end, the dinner was so delicious it needed wine.”) As I said, huge fan.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, RBG studied law at Harvard and Columbia, where she also taught law later. She has been a long-term advocate for women’s rights and gender equality, and has argued several landmark cases (right to abortion, discrimination based on gender at workplace, women’s reproductive health rights, equal pay, to name but few), before the Court. She was also the first Supreme Court judge to officiate a same-sex wedding in 2013. She’s a big fan of the opera, and has said “If I had any talent that God could give me, I would be a great diva”.
Bader Ginsburg enjoyed cult-status among law students, feminists and liberal circles long before Trump became the president, but his appointment turned her into a national treasure, who had to be kept in good health to ensure her full term at Supreme Court, so that Trump could not replace her, the oldest standing liberal judge, and thus crucially tilt the balance of the Court in favour of conservatives. People started to worry about her diet (is RBG taking her antioxidants? Should we be concerned about her kale/blueberry intake?). As a thank you to the powerful proponent of same sex marriage, Washington D.C. -based gay community offered to carry RBG around so that she would not slip and hurt herself. Her exercise regime was turned into a book. All eyes are on Ruth.
This is also the problem. Any 84 year old woman deserves a rest! A retirement! RBG should get an annual subscription to the Metropolitan Opera and the time to go see a performance whenever she damn old pleases! It’s us, people less than half her age, who should be carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders! Therefore 2018 needs to see more people under 80 years of age who will fight the good fight. There’s so much fuckwittery in the world that we cannot seriously outsource our shit to an 84 year-old woman who out-planks the most of us, just because we cannot be bothered ourselves!
You ask yourself, “so exactly what am I supposed to be doing, then”? You can always take a look at some of the fantastic feminist literature around to get an idea and no, it will not turn you into a man-hating militant. Just have your sisters’ back. It might require opening your mouth every now and then, sometimes being silent, but always casting your vote when given the chance. You will need to keep your eyes open, not take things at face value, and you will need to question many things. We cannot obviously all be Supreme Court judges, but we also cannot be people who keep repeating ad nauseam that things are as they are and nothing can ever be changed. Dear reader, things are dark until they’re not. That applies to absolutely everything, and although slightly off topic, the full essay is totally worth reading and can be read here.
You can also read Bader Ginsburg’s biography “My Own Words” by Hartnett and Williams (it’s authorised by RBG herself, out last year). Also I invite you to get “The Notorious R.B.G. The life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, which is absolutely fabulous. During my last visit to the U.S. I possibly went slightly OTT with getting RBG-merchandise, such as the teacup in the picture and the many books about her life, but on the other hand I’ve rarely been inspired by a living person as much as I have been by her.
Also in the picture, a spread from children’s book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls -100 Tales of Extraordinary Women” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, which obviously features our RBG. Makes for a spectacular Christmas present, by the way.
I wanted to finish with an RBG-quote while also making a point that this is posting is not just about driving the traditional feminist agenda. Lo, here’s what I found: “America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow.”(*
There you go. 2018 is soon upon us. Let’s not make Ruth do all the hard work. We can do this.
(* Psst, as Trump’s travel ban was voted in the Supreme Court this December, two judges disagreed with court orders allowing the latest policy to take full effect. The judges were Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.