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There’s A Reason Conservative Men Resented Ruth Bader Ginsburg — So Now We Must Carry On Her Fight

Photo: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
ruth bader ginsburg

On September 18, 2020, we lost one of the most powerful female voices in the history of the world: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, NY, she began a life in which she would fight hard, stand strong, and deliver to the American people the law of the land. Her name is synonymous with the battle for equality amongst the sexes, civil rights for women, equal pay for women, the right for women to choose what they do with their own bodies in terms of child-bearing, abortion and contraception, and civil rights for all races, as well as civil recognition for the LGBTQ+ community.

In her opinion, society could only come to harm if its people were not recognized as equals, ultimately, and without exception.

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One week after Ruth was born, my mother was born a few miles away, and by the time she gave birth to me in 1958, I got the chance to witness exactly what women had to deal with and how intensely (but secretly) they resented being squelched, stifled and stomped on by the hypnotic brawn of male insecurity and its dire need to keep women "in their place" for fear of the power they knew was abundantly there.

When we think of 87-year-old women, we tend to lump them all into the 'old biddy' category, where we easily and flippantly decide that their only experience had to be one that mimicked the Donna Reed "women must always and universally defer and submit to men" stereotype. No, those born in 1933 did not easily fit into the "I'm only a woman" mentality. These women made up the inspired rebellious generation that brought us revolution, free love, feminism, rock and roll, women's health consciousness, activism, liberation, art, education, and...justice.

When RBG famously said, "We only ask of our brethren that they take their feet off our necks," we were hearing the sounds of thousands of years of systemic sexism rise to the forefront of everyone's waking mind, in the form of well-balanced, graceful and elegant words.

While her generation never spent a day free from the overbearing and indulgent lie that men are superior and should make all decisions, they took on society and fought back — because the prize was equality, even though we all knew we were and are all born equal, despite the neuroses that one could only describe as male delusion. It was never a "man's world." It was only ever a man's delusion.

The delusion of men as superior reaches back to the dawn of humanity when man realized she had power over him. She was a distraction — it was her fault that he was distracted, he rationalized. He took no responsibility for his own perception or reaction, merely dehumanizing her and envisioning her as a powerless object so that he wouldn't have to look to himself for fault.

While women's rights have come a long way since then, the archaic and toxic mentality of women as powerless objects — and therefore, men as helpless beings lacking self-control — continues permeating society today. It's seen in the ways girls are continuously sent home from school for ridiculous dress code violations, violations of women's autonomy over their own bodies, and victim-blaming in sexual assault cases.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew that a society that did not recognize all of its members as equal was a society inherently bound for failure. Sexual discrimination hurt everyone; it dissolved individuality and made us all into limited players in a game very few wanted to play. She recognized that men suffered greatly as well; not every man wanted to buy into being the gold standard of male superiority. The superior male image was an illusion, and when men didn't live up to this, they were taunted and bullied by other men who bought into the lie because they could benefit from it. 

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In 1970, for instance, we saw the case of Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld.

Stephen Wiesenfeld and Paula Polatschek were married. They decided to have a child. While giving birth to their son, Paula died of complications, leaving Stephen to care for the child on his own. At the time, there were no social security benefits for at-home male care-givers. Men were supposed to bring home the bacon and women were supposed to stay home with the children. How could a man make do with this kind of situation? What was he supposed to do? Beat the money out of thin air with his male privilege? Miraculously raise his son without money while being seen as a wimpy non-male by other men?

Gender inequality protected no one, and it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg who championed this cause — and won.

It was Ginsburg who taught us that gender inequality was an equal opportunity destroyer.

When liberal women of great intelligence and compassion receive attention and praise for their work in the betterment of society, they are always, and without fail, confronted by the conservative male right. The most fragile of conservative men — the ones who today hold political power — become enraged and take to name-calling. Ms. Ginsburg has been called, a "witch," "very, very wicked" and... a "zombie." Zombie? Wow, they really pulled out the big guns for that one. 

Notorious RBG's passion, resilience, and drive was everything the conservative male voice despised, and there is no doubt they are dancing on her grave, right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, as her mother always told her to be, a lady. And by 'lady,' we mean a woman who owns her femininity and knows it as strength, independence, fearlessness, ability, and power.

She was soft-spoken and shy, but she knew the power of persistence and reserve; Ginsburg was not going to beat anyone into submission with her decisions — there was nothing unilateral about her ideas. In fact, everything she did was about checks and balances. After all, she was a Supreme Court Justice, who'd spent her entire life weighing and examining options. Being open and receptive to all opinions was the only way she could possibly come to any kind of judgment, and like the blindfolded angel of karma, she would bring justice to all.

It was never, nor will it ever be, a man's world. It's a world of living beings, all of us equal. And in America, under the Constitution, we are all equal under the law. Ginsburg made sure — through hard-fought battles and tear-stained victories — that our Constitution would protect us all, each and every one of us.

Death is a fact of life. But the death of a strong woman is only the death of her bodily form, for her ideas are forever forthcoming — she cannot be ended.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is alive in us, and we must be the movement continued.

Let's just put it bluntly: If we don't continue her work, if we don't vote, if we roll her under the carpet with everything else that was killed before it had a chance to grow, (#metoo, #BLM, #climatechange, gay rights...) we will see women in cages, gays beaten on the streets, back-alley abortions, men beaten down emotionally for being compassionate, overpopulation, depression, suicide, no religious rights, no healthcare and more death than our hearts can handle. There will be complete inequality for women, minorities, LGBTQ+. In other words, if it isn't straight, white, and Christian, it will be deemed as criminal.

Let's keep concepts like The Handmaid's Tale fiction, because if the white supremacy that is taking over the country gets its way — and it will if we don't vote them out and take over — we're all going to be living "under his eye."

Ruth's last wish was to live to sit on the bench during the next president's administration. While she didn't make it there, she apparently knew there would be a "next president." Let's make it so in November. 

87 years, folks. And the majority of those years went to making life bearable for us. She did it for us.

Justice is what happens when ideas clash, and thorough investigation of both sides of an argument is needed in order to come to a fair conclusion. It is the balancing of the scales, the righting of wrongs, the intelligent result of weighing all options based on fact and coming to an inevitable conclusion. A thing is wrong, or it is right, and to get to that final decision, one must sort through the miles and miles of potential gray areas that make up the argument.

Justice is not vengeance, it is the final unbiased judgment based on facts.

Let's bring justice to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life's work. Vote. Act. Speak.


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Dori Hartley is a portrait artist, essayist, and journalist. She's been published in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, XOJane, MyDaily, and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and 'Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are all available on Amazon.