Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has a wonderful tribute describing how “Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows how feminism is done. Again.”
… Palin and the Mama Grizzlies also owe a debt of thanks directly to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who almost single-handedly convinced the courts and legislatures to do away with gender classifications in matters ranging from a woman’s right to be executor of her son’s estate (Reed v. Reed, 1970), to a female Air Force lieutenant’s right to secure housing allowances and medical benefits for her husband (Frontiero v. Richardson, 1973), and the right of Oklahoma’s “thirsty boys” (her words) to buy beer at the Honk n’ Holler at the same age as young women (Craig v. Boren, 1976)…
You can draw a straight line between Ginsburg’s fight against these seemingly harmless gender classifications that were rooted in seemingly harmless gender stereotypes and the Mama Grizzlies who roam our political landscape today.
Those who like to believe they have picked themselves up by the bootstraps sometimes forget that they wouldn’t even have boots were it not for the women who came before. Listening to Palin, it’s almost impossible to believe that, as recently as 50 years ago, a woman at Harvard Law School could be asked by Dean Erwin Griswold to justify taking a spot that belonged to a man. In Ginsburg’s lifetime, a woman could be denied a clerkship with Felix Frankfurter just because she was a woman. Only a few decades ago, Ginsburg had to hide her second pregnancy for fear of losing tenure. I don’t have an easy answer to the question of whether real feminists are about prominent lipsticky displays of “girl-power,” but I do know that Ginsburg’s lifetime dedication to achieving quiet, dignified equality made such displays possible.
After she finished reading her husband’s charmingly funny speech, and while folks in the audience were still wiping away tears, Ginsburg sat down for a “fireside chat” with the chief justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, and Robert Henry, the president of Oklahoma City University… In response to a question about work-life balance, Ginsburg explained that in the early ’70s, her son, “what I called a lively child but school psychologists called hyperactive,” was forever in trouble and that she was constantly called in to his school, even though she and her husband both had full-time jobs.
“One day, I was particularly weary,” she explained, and so when the school called, she said, “This child has two parents. I suggest you alternate calls, and it’s his father’s turn.” She said calls from the school came much less frequently after that, because the school was “much less inclined to take a man away from his job.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t growl and doesn’t issue threats, and she rarely eats small forest dwellers. But she is still the mother of all grizzlies to me.
Go read the whole thing, and tell me if you don’t agree that Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas put together aren’t qualified to iron Ginsburg’s frilly judicial ascots.
On August 25, Tani Cantil-Sakauye was confirmed to be the next Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. When she joins the bench in January, the 7-judge state supreme court will have FOUR women and THREE men.
OT, but must be shared.
Guess who was just named Vice President of Domestic and Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation?
Well, at least the International Criminal Court will know where to find him when it comes time to serve that arrest warrant (hey, nothing wrong with dreaming, is there?).
Palin is really more the anti-Ginsburg, and almost a total refudiation of feminism.
She’s uneducated and has reached the pinnacle of (wingnut) success based on her personality and womanly, err, attributes.
Yes, Ginsberg, and many of the forgotten pioneers of womens rights, including perhaps Pelosi’s forerunner, that woman with the crazy hats…
She did much more…
sorry, edit wouldn’t work and link didn’t embed…
To over simplify, it seems that the two side of the political spectrum use different measures to evaluate our respective leaders.
They adore bombast and certainty. We prefer a sharp analytical mind that questions the status quo.
This is why Palin’s use of the grizzly is so spot on. It is a threatened species.
Palin’s the Elmer Refuddiation of feminism, if you want to be precise.
Wow, I love that article. Thanks Anne Laurie so much…
On August 27, Alton Davis was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. When he joined the bench, the 7-judge state supreme court went from FOUR women and THREE men to THREE women and FOUR men. It’ll still have a female CJ though. BUT more importantly, Davis is a Granholm (D) appointee who replaces an O’Connor-esque justice who constantly feuds with the three conservatives, so it’s now 4-3 Democratic edge.
@Anniecat45: Truly amazing for those of us who remember the “fun” of the Rose Bird years.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has long been a true hero of mine. She was a stellar appointment. To even mention that snowbilly grifter quitter in the same sentence is a travesty.
Not to mention the fact that Ginsburg’s life work has truly contributed to society while Palin ….. well, I have noting to say.
We should be so lucky.
Oh and as a lovely counterpoint to the erudite and classy Judge Ginsburg, please be sure to read about Palin’s travel demands for invited speeches over on Think Progress. Fair warning,it may induce vomiting.
It galls and mystifies me that people think Palin is a feminist icon. I’d like to say that it’s like calling Reagan a war hero for his ‘evil empire’ speech, but at least Reagan served in the military even if he saw no combat.
I love, love, love, Justice Ginsburg. It is most wondrous how so much intelligence, integrity, dignity and wit can be contained within that one petite, slender body.
Sarah Palin is not fit to inhabit the same planet.
Eemom, I love you dearly, but did you have to get me all hot and bothered so early in the day? You and your petite slender bodies!
one question, though — WTF is up with the “bendable straws”?
She’s too stupid to drink from a straight straw? The bendies are some kind of sex toy for Todd?
oh yes, I luuurvs me some Bella too. She was doing her stuff while I was a little girl growing up in da Brawnx…..
Sadly, that hasn’t changed much. In my (admittedly limited) experience, and judging from the noises around the mommy-blogosphere, schools still tend to call Mom at work for mundane things about which they would never bother Dad.
I would LOVE to hear more of Ginsburg’s thoughts on work-life balance — she carried an awful lot of weight on those tiny shoulders, and kicked ass while doing it.
@eemom: Probably adopted after several mishaps where that dipshit poked herself in the eye while using a regular straw. Doing g_d knows what with it…
Or then again, maybe she still uses a sippy cup in private and this is her compromise for the outside world?
Why does that horrible woman raise my blood pressure so?
I actually heard her tell that anecdote! She was the speaker at my husband’s law school graduation back in ’93 when she was still on the D.C. Circuit. I have always remembered that soft, yet steely voice saying “This child has two parents.”
She and Sonia and Elena are SOOOO gonna kick some pasty white Scalia-Roberts ass……
I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Sarah Palin. The Law of Unintended Consequences really shouldn’t extend to natural disasters.
Add my thanks to Annie Laurie for bringing this to our attention. Gee, I must have missed msm covering this somewhere. Oh that’s right, anything Palin does or says is of vital importance and reported on in a nanosecond.
There are far too many confused, shockingly ignorant, deluded people in this country and I blame corporate media which has little interest in informing viewers but also deliberately fucks with our heads, imo.
Thanks Anne Laurie, that little post made my day.
Ruth’s son turned out just fine, btw — he runs this record label.
Back in the late 70’s I worked with a woman who wanted to go to med school. She was asked during her interviews “why should we give you a spot in this school when you will just get pregnant in a few years and stay home with your children?” This is barely over 30 years ago. She did not get accepted & now is a biology professor at a Woman’s college in the Midwest.
Too little respect is paid to the bright, dedicated and capable women who fought this sort of stupidity back when it was considered radical to do so. Too many women today benefit from the efforts of people from their mom’s generation that made their career possible. The phrase “born on third base but believe they hit a triple” fits.
..I am going to take this out for a ride myself in an action that I am pursuing. I am climbing a ladder made of the hard experience of the women who challenged the status quo and helped make it better for me. I am going to honor and affirm their sacrifice…
To Mama Grisslies everwhere!
I doubt that Palin even knows who Ginsburg is.
I saw an interview of Ginsburg a while back, and she struck me as one of those “empathatic judges” that Republicans seem to hate, unless they are conservative.
Although I can’t imagine Scalia empathizing with any member of the human race (I know he hunts with Dick Cheney but that doesn’t count).
Because she’ll be saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt? I don’t understand this, it’s not like she’s applying for a scholarship. She’s applying to be in debt. That gives her a pretty good reason to not stay at home, right?
To Mama GRIZZLIES (gotta learn to spell)
Quaker in a Basement
The Honk n’ Holler? Really?
I don’t see why people fixate on the bendable straws. It’s not as though providing them is a huge expense, and I haven’t heard of her flying off the handle and refusing to give a speech because she was given a straight straw. She obviously wants straws for the same reason many women want them- they don’t ruin her lipstick the way drinking from a glass would- and probably wants bendy ones so she can look forward while taking a sip. It seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to request, if a bit picky. If you’re going to criticize her, pick something deserving like how much of a money grubber she is.
Thanks, AL. I adore Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I cannot wait to see her, Sotomayor, and Kagan kick some ass. And, yes, this is why it infuriates me when Palin tosses out the word feminist so casually. She is not fit to wash Ginsburg’s feet.
Dude, if I’m going to criticize her I’ll start with the fact that she is a disgrace and abomination to my gender and work my way down the bottomless list from there.
The bendy straws are just……funny, see? Leetle joke? That ok?
What’s kind of funny is that she and Scalia are really close friends and go to the opera together frequently. Isn’t it strange how some people, although poles apart politically, are still able to be friends?
I saw RBG speak a few years ago. There were some prepared remarks, the bulk of the event was a roundtable with other female legal experts.
She was truly remarkable – she looked frail enough to be blown over by a stiff wind, but when she spoke extemporaneously, she spoke in paragraphs. None of the “ums” and “uhs” and pauses that I associate with even the smartest people when they’re speaking off the cuff. Everything she said was precise and cogent. I have admired her since I knew who she was, and it was a real treat to watch her in action.
This is an awesome post but…
Is it wrong for me to appropriate into a sure-fire, can’t lose pick up line?
I will defer to the will of the group.
Ginsburg is a giant. Palin, not so much. On the other hand, it’s not as though Palin is speaking in pseudo-fundamentalist tongues, suggesting that a woman’s only place is in the home or that they should be subservient to their men.
Dahlia Lithwick notes a NY Times article which makes reference to Palin’s ability to enter professional life “made possible by the involvement of her load-bearing husband Todd, entering Alaska’s governor’s mansion at 42 with four children in tow and giving birth to a fifth while there.”
Seems to me that this speaks of a partnership and relationship based on respect, not narrowly prescribed gender roles, similar to that of Justice Ginsburg and her husband Martin, whose speech Ginsburg delivered.
So while quitter grifter Palin is an imperfect feminist icon, I don’t think you can entirely exile her from the clan of the Mamma Grizzly Cave Bears.
100,000 times yes.
Dahlia says exactly why this whole “is Palin a Feminist” thing stabs my brain.
She’s years behind us fake Murkans in supporting equal rights, and her using the cudgel of feminism in such an obvious and frivolous way for political gain is actually anti-feminist and counterproductive to the essence of feminism!
My wife was quoting from a story from somewhere this weekend that said it’s the “left’s fault” that they don’t have their own feminist leader like St. Palin. I just laughed and laughed.
I adore Ginsburg. She and others like her made so much possible for future generations.
Another anecdote about slow change:
In 1985, at a major research university, doctoral candidates interviewing for jobs took all rings off their fingers when interviewing for postdoctoral positions in an effort to help the married and engaged women in the department. Despite this department-wide gesture, the ONLY woman doctoral candidate who got an early job offer was an empty nester who had gone back to school when her only child went off to West Point (she decided to use the college fund on herself).
Yes I can, for many reasons, the two first being (1) Palin advocates policies that “subserviate” women, including her opposition to abortion and even friggin birth control; (2) my definition of “feminism” absolutely excludes any woman who uses her womanness to advance her ambitions.
palin isn’t a refudiation of feminism. she’s a good example of the end effects of it.
think about it, there are lots of cases where some dude who’s an outright moron becomes heck of popular on the political stage, pushing aside plenty of intelligent, rational guys who are clearly his better. bush is an example, but only the most recent.
the only thing that’s new about palin’s case is that she’s a woman. she’s evidence that women are now able to be idiots at the very highest levels as well, just like men have been for generations.
it just sucks that the glass ceiling here is one that leads up to the heights of idiocy. not the best example most feminists would like to see of equality at work, but i guess you gotta take the good with the bad.
A good reminder of near history …. thanks for the link and excerpts.
When I was student teaching, the master teacher I worked with told me to call the mother first because they knew what was going on. (Yes, the master teacher was a woman, too.) I found that it was pretty much 50/50, and I would just call whoever I could get on the phone, although you’d get the occasional “why don’t you call my wife about this” from the dads. I think there’s still a big portion of society that thinks it’s only the mother’s job to know what’s going on in the children’s lives.
@Brachiator: I was actually rather impressed with the fact that she and her husband seemed to share parenting duties, and I hate it when people say she shouldn’t have been a VP candidate because she had children and a child with special needs, as if she was the only parent in the relationship.
That said, it sickens me to think of her as a feminist icon overall because of the things she stands for that threaten women’s rights and twists the meaning of feminism to suit her political/celebrity needs. I guess you could say that I’m offended by a so-called feminist icon who won’t defend the rights of a portion of females because they choose to kiss other females, or one who would restrict the personal decisions other women have other their own bodies while claiming no one has a right to criticize her for the ones she and her daughter have made.
ETA: What chopper and eemom said.
A good point — however, I would add that only a Starburst-spewing “MILF” like Palin could achieve this. An unattractive woman could not. Which gets into my point (2) above.
oh, totally. bush’s folksy charm had a lot to do with his popularity, though at times it seemed impossible to understand. if his affectations were different he probably wouldn’t have been liked at all.
as for palin, i’ve talked to teabaggers about her and they say that her popularity has nothing to do with her looks. so i ask them if she’d be just as popular with the right wing if she looked like janet reno. i almost always get crickets.
@Roger Moore: Bendy straws are awesome–Just try making a robot for your diorama without them.
I was listening to the speech on Sat. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s speech was really funny but I was pleased with Sotomayor’s too. I had been worried as to how liberal Sotomayor was going to be but she sure sounded like an old fashioned liberal in the speech. And hell yes, Palin doesn’t belong in the same sentence as these two. I would bet $100 to a Republican candidate that Palin wouldn’t be able to name all nine justices – that’s how sure I am that Palin is dumb as a box of rocks.
@Uloborus: He served in the USO, I don’t think he saw any real service.
If this were a female Democratic candidate running all over the place with small kids at home including a special needs baby, we would NEVER hear the end of it. Drudge would have daily sirens.
I think my problem with Palin transcends her lack of insight regarding the women who painfully paved the way for her. It is, quite simple her aggressive idiocy or anti-intellectualism if you prefer. I’m sorry, people who are openly contemptuous of education when they had every opportunity to obtain a decent one themselves but just didn’t want to do the work shouldn’t be taken seriously on any level. Much less run for high office. Great example for kids, you betcha.
And when coupled to her innate nastiness it’s a wicked brew, that is for sure.
Yuck. Nothing to like or respect there.
That “wary” in the final paragraph didn’t quite ring true, and indeed if you check back at Slate you’ll see that Lithwick has fixed it to “weary.”