It's that time of year again—when we all take a moment to recognize the birthday of one of our favorite feminists: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RBG.
Now 85 years fierce, RBG continues her unrelenting advocacy for women's rights that started as a young student when she broke through the boys' club mentality at Ivy League universities including Cornell, Harvard Law, and Columbia Law where she was one of a handful of girls in the classroom. She later joined the U.S. Supreme Court as its second female justice ever, taking the oath of office on August 10, 1993. And recently the self-proclaimed "flaming feminist" has announced she has no plans to retire. (Insert heavy sigh of relief here.)
Whether she's sharing her story of fighting sexual discrimination in law, telling of her experience being sworn into the highest court of the land or recalling the love story between her and husband, Marty, this MAKER will inspire you. Here is her life and career in her own words.
Feminism. I think the simplest explanation and one that capture the idea is a song that Marlo Thomas sang "Free to Be You and Me." We should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers, man-made barriers, certainly not heaven sent.
On her advocacy during her law career
Our strategy was the soul of simplicity. It was to go after the stereotypes that were written into law and to show that many could be disadvantaged by the stereotype, as well as women. We wanted people to be judged by what they do, by the functions they perform, and not by gender.
On fighting for women's equality in the legal system
I read every federal case that had to do with women's equality or the lack thereof and every law review article. Now that seems like it was quite an undertaking but in fact, it was easily manageable because there was so little.
On the female justices on the U.S. Supreme Court
People certainly know that women are present on the court. And we are all over the bench and we are certainly here to stay.
On the book that changed her life
I read Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex and that was an eye-opener. So I began to think, well, maybe the law could catch up with changes in society, and that was an empowering idea. The notion was that law was, yes, a way to earn a living, but also to do things that would make life a little better for your community.
On being one of nine women in a class of more than 500 men at Harvard Law School
You felt, in class, as if all eyes were on you and that if you didn't perform well, you would be failing, not only for yourself, but for all women.
On the best advice she received from her mother
Don't be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.
On her beloved husband, Marty
He was a remarkable man. He was so comfortable about himself that he never regarded me as being any kind of a threat. On the contrary, I think he may have figured out, well, he is so good so the person he picked to be his life partner has got to be the cat's meow.
On finding the silver lining in failure
So often in life things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.