Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiration. From reading everything on her to gawking over her workout routine when I couldn’t even do a single push up, her life and work inspires one to never stop.
Ever since I heard about her demise, I wanted to write about what I learnt from RBG through her life (wins and struggles) and how I use it in my life.
Here is how RBG inspires me:
1) Your fights don’t have to be big and loud:
This is definitely my biggest learning from RBG’s work. When RBG started litigating on issues pertaining to women’s rights, she didn’t take on only the big, headliner issues, she took up the smaller fights and each small victory lead to the mammoth victory for women’s rights. This is applicable to everything we do. At work, whenever I find a task that feels like a big problem, I try to tackle it bit by bit. At the end of each victory, I slowly end up dealing with the big problem.
2) Know your audience:
RBG took on cases that showed the courts how inequality also affects men and thereby, pushing the court to adopt gender-neutral laws. Considering the bench she was arguing before comprised of a majority of men (still does), it showed that understanding your audience can help you win your fight. It was not a popular choice, but RBG decided to take the lesser-travelled road and it led to some major wins for the gender equality movement. This is applicable to everything we do, everyday. Everyone understand pain best when it is relatable — this is the best way to make your audience understand why you are proposing a certain change is to make them see how it will impact them.
3) You may be the only woman sometimes:
Can you imagine going to college and not being allowed to enter the reading room because of your gender or not having a toilet in the main academic block? Well, RBG lived that. She was one of the 8 women at Harvard Law School. 8 — let that number sink in.
Thanks to every woman like RBG who did not give up, I grew up never feeling like I wasn’t on par with my male colleagues. I was always told that I needed to work hard and grab whatever opportunity came my way. When you come across women who have successfully broken the glass ceiling, you will notice that at sometime or the other, she was the only woman in the room. Whenever I find myself in a similar situation, I don’t think twice about whether I belong there or if I will be taken seriously but I only feel a lot of pride to be in that situation. I don’t know if I am changing the society but I do hope that I am showing some girl out there not to be scared.
During a lunch with family and friends, I got into a heated argument with a friend about equal pay in sports and it went on for what felt like hours, on a Sunday afternoon with no conclusion. Whenever I meet this friend, he asks me if I am going to bring it up again and we get right back into the conversation. The last time we met, he flipped his finger and asked me if that was sexist. I told him it wasn’t and I was, in fact, very pleased that he was ok showing me the “potty mouth” side of him because during RBG’s time there was a judge who had policies against hiring women because he was known to be potty mouthed and didn’t want to have to watch his language around women.
So many women have had to go through struggles unknown to me so I can sit here and write about this and I am so grateful. Thank you, RBG — while all the American laws you fought for do not govern me, your work has had an impact on my life.