Book report: We’ve come a long way, baby

51ko3byryDL._SX260_Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my hero. And if you’ve seen me in the last week or so, I’ve probably mentioned Notorious RBG as an enlightening, inspiring, and very readable book. The authors, Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, made it a pleasure getting to know this intelligent, forthright, hardworking woman who has fought against stereotype and injustice for her entire career.

Young Ruth had doors slammed in her face. Repeatedly. She was once fired for being pregnant. While at Harvard Law School as a young wife and mother, she and the other female students had to repeatedly justify the slots that they’d “taken away” from males. Furthermore, there were “small” slights such as no women’s restrooms in the building and not being allowed into the library’s reading room. Nevertheless, she persisted.

After Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, she graduated tied for first in her class. Still, no firm would hire her. Again, she would be taking a job from a male who had a family to support. When she finally did get a job lecturing at Rutgers, she was paid less because she was a woman. Still, she persisted.

While working with the ACLU,  she won five out of six women’s rights cases she argued before the Supreme Court. Furthermore, she devised a careful, incremental plan for revolutionary goals, fighting against laws that were inherently gender-biased. Some of her earliest cases defended men against unfair regulations that didn’t acknowledge they too could be primary caregivers of their children or parents.  Or the pregnant woman in the military forced to choose between an abortion or a discharge, neither of which she wanted. Or the woman who wasn’t allowed to add her children to her employer-based health insurance because it was assumed only men had dependents. You see, fairness works both ways.

“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 and ever enlarged group.”

“’We the people’” originally left out a lot of people. “’It would not include me,” RBG said, or enslaved people, or Native Americans.’”

Ginsburg established case-law that could then be cited as precedent in future cases.

Learning about Ginsburg’s early fights and her resolve to continue fighting, reminds us that we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Justice Ginsburg. We could do worse that to emulate her example.

RBG advises women to act like ladies:

“That meant to always conduct yourself civilly, don’t let emotions like anger or envy get in your way…Hold fast to your convictions and your self-respect, be a good teacher, but don’t snap back in anger. Anger, resentment, indulgence in recriminations waste time and sap energy.”

Further advice from the book’s Appendix:

How to Be Like RBG

  •  Work for what you believe in, but pick your battles and don’t burn your bridges.
  • Don’t be afraid to take charge.
  • Think about what you want, then do the work, but then enjoy what makes you happy.
  • Bring along your crew.
  • Have a sense of humor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now firmly fixed in my pantheon of cultural heroes. And it’s never too early to learn about this fabulous woman. A Young Readers’ version of this book is now available and I recently purchased one of several picture books about Justice Ginsburg for my granddaughter’s eighth birthday. I hope my Olivia will stand up against injustice when she sees it.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby. Due in no small part the Notorious (not to mention Supreme) RBG.

ruth pic book - Copy

Advertisements

Dear Hallmark,

weddign 2This morning I stopped at my local drugstore to purchase a wedding card for my daughter and her partner who will marry next week. I worried that all the cards available would depict a bride and groom in the art or the words.  I was pleasantly surprised to find many options without any figures–male or female–and sentiments that expressed what I feel. Happiness and hope as they begin this journey together.
Thank you, Hallmark Cards!
Sincerely,
The proud mother of one of the brides

One down, two to go

fall giantsWhew! Just finished this giant of a book this morning on the elliptical. It’s the first in the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. It does an excellent job of tracing the roots of present day issues to what was going on one hundred years ago, before, during and just after WWI. The lives of members of five families are tangled and woven throughout the book and across the world.

There are coal mines, manor houses, spies, battlefields, the highest tiers of government, the poorest neighborhoods and yes, romance. Lots of intrigue and backroom dealing.

Follett also describes the roots of feminism and the labor movement in Great Britain. During the war, women took over men’s jobs but were paid less for the same work. Sound familiar? When the vote was finally granted to women, it was only to women over thirty who were householders, the most conservative women.

Dear Reader,

cropped-cropped-coffeeimages.jpg

I feel like I know you already. We’ve had coffee together, read the same books, and grieved the loss of a loved one. Or an election. We’ve gained and lost weight. We’ve celebrated and commiserated. We’ve laughed over our struggles with aging. We’ve waxed nostalgic. We’ve made plans for the future. We’ve gotten a little drunk. Together.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about us.

  • We believe in the inherent value and potential of every human being.
  • We believe in the freedom of choice in all personal matters, including whether and when to have a baby or whom to marry. We married for love and believe others should be allowed to do so.
  • We believe that knowledge is power and that knowing the facts helps us make better decisions for ourselves and our world.
  • We believe in the freedom of (and from) religion as long as others believe in ours.
  • We believe that most people are good and trying the best they can. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind, some are just more visible.
  • We recycle.
  • We believe in spreading kindness, even if we get a little judge-y in our heads sometimes.
  • We believe trolls live under bridges and should stay there. We know life is short and that bullies and blowhards are simply not worth our time.

Please consider this an invitation as well as a note of gratitude. Stop by when you can. No need to call first. The coffee’s always hot. I’ll save you a seat by the window.