Bookworms – this one is for you! I read three things at a time most months. And it seems I can almost always relate what someone is talking about to something I read…hence the name Something I Read. Oh, my bad, did I not mention our new monthly feature on Grabbing Lapels? I introduce to you, Something I Read! A little blurby, book reviewy, run down on what I am reading. Why should you care? Glad you asked! Lately I have been on a non-fiction or bust run. Trying to stay current with everything and reading up on what I need to know more of, what we should all know more of! Now not everyone can pick up just any old book and finish that sucker, sometimes you need a hella good book recommendation, which is why I am telling you all about something I read! See it all ties together folks, just stay with me!
For my very first Something I Read I chose a book that is both timely in a current events way and a political way. I just happen to finish this book the week before Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. It’s a book about his very close friend and fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg also know as, Notorious RBG. So this months Something I Read is Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Now I am not going to bore you with details, like RBG was born here and did this that and the other thing. I am going to tell you that if you think you are at all a feminist, you need to read this book. And if you are at all concerned about how a court ruling can become an actual law of the land, then you need to read this book. And if you are a woman who fantasizes about having it all, a husband, a family and a growing career, you REALLY need to read this book!
Now this is not a new book, it was published in 2015. It’s also not new that RBG is a badass or that she is so lovingly referred to as Notorious RBG (she is from Brooklyn afterall). In fact, there is an entire Tumblr dedicated to her bad-assness. Why shouldn’t the second ever female supreme court justice have a tumblr dedicated to her? Now in case you didn’t know, RBG is 82 and still serves as a Supreme Court Justice. She was appointed by Bill Clinton and has since been joined by two other female justices, both appointed by President Obama. How did she get there? It’s all in the book, but in case you need more convincing.
A Husband Who’s Down
One of the most loved characters from the book of RBG was her her husband, Marty. A man who selflessly put her career first and supported her as she went to school, went on to teach law and of course proceed up the chain of commands as a judge. He watched the children, he made dinner and all while keeping his job as a tax attorney. It sets a great example of what it is to have a true companion in life. Marty, her ride-or-die, served as one of her greatest achievements I believe. Not because she tamed into supporting her careeer and her life, but because she found someone who would do that without question. But the relationship was reciprocal, RBG cared for Marty during his cancer and during his career as well.
A Sexist Society
You think women have it bad? You have no idea how far we have come. During her time at Harvard Law school, she attended a dinner with the handful of other female students at the dean’s house. Dean Griswold asked the women how these female students could justify taking the place of a man (as a law professional). A brash and bold women of today might scoff at such a comment, but RBG knew how to play the game. She simply lied and said “I wanted to know more about what my husband does, so that I can be a sympathetic and understanding wife.” Can you imagine being nominated to the Supreme Court, only to find out there is only one bathroom in the chambers…and it’s labeled MEN.
A young female law professional in the 1950’s was rare yes, but RBG was not alone. She was just part of a rumbling society yet to make any noise.
Head Over Heart
One lesson I took to heart was RBG’s role. Now I don’t practice law so I don’t have the ability to dissent on inequality cases or rule whether a crime is unjust or not. I do have the ability to think logically about something I feel passionate about and act appropriately. RBG never picketed, caused raucous stir and reacted emotionally to something unjust. Instead she went about it legally and made a long lasting difference. It’s a great lesson for all of us women to use that passion and force it into something productive. As a volunteer lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, she helped bring to light cases like Cox vs Stanton. A massive injustice to a young mother in North Carolina that included forced sterilization. Something so unjust, any average woman would feel the urge to make a scene. RBG went after it with the law and while it was shot down, the state finally made an apology in 2002.
Ineqaulity For All
It’s always interesting to here what people think of the word feminist. Some picture women marching, burning bras and throwing pots and pans out the window. But after reading this book, I’ve never felt so sure about what it is to be a feminist. RBG made her stance clear from the jump, she was not to be labeled and not to be boxed into any politcal stand point. She was simply out to make a difference for inequality and it just so happens, that meant women and minorities. But she proved time and time again that improving the lives of women and all races, improves the lives of everyone. It creates equality for all. Sexism, as she proved, brought everyone’s grade of life down. One case in particular that reached the supreme court was Weinberger vs Weisenfeld. In this case, the husband (Weisenfeld) was a widow who’s wife happened to be the bread winner. After his wife passed, he was unable to receive her benefits because the law claimed that was “mother’s benefits” and therefore not for men. RBG faced many more cases like this and dissented on all of them.
“I think that men and women, shoulder to shoulder, will work together to make this a better. Just as I don’t think that men are the superior sex, neither do I think women are.”
-Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I found this book to be a quick read, and not as complicated as I thought. I know nothing of law, besides of course the basics. I thought I would be lost in references and phrases, but I understood it perfectly. You don’t have to be a law expert to read this and you don’t have to know much about history. It’s also great to read in pieces, spread it out. As you can see from the photo above, I could even enjoy the book over breakfast on Saturday morning.
Hope you enjoyed hearing about something I read!