I once had a job as a middle-school counselor, and one morning on bus duty, a sixth-grade boy bounced out of the bus, picked up handfuls of gravel and threw it at other kids. With a firm grip on his forearm, I took him aside and said, “Jeremy, what are you doing?” He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and quietly said, “Ms. Goble, sometimes my bad side comes out.”
Today, some of my feminism is coming out. As I watched the news coverage of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), I thought of all the women in my life who dared to take a stand for equality. I’ve had the great opportunities to hear Diane Keaton, Barbara Bush, Goldie Hawn, Maya Angelou, and Gloria Steinem speak of their challenges while trying to achieve personal and career goals.
Both my grandmothers raised 11 children, and their stories of hard work, faith, and community involvement impacted my young ears. My mother, who raised five girls, also held classes for young mothers, taught 4-H for years, and was very involved in all the church’s happenings. She worked in factories during WWII and became a Real Estate Broker.
Where would we be if women had not set good examples and fought for equality for themselves, their daughters, and granddaughters? In high school, I cleaned house for a woman once a week, and my mother made me ask for a 25 cent raise. It was so difficult, but the lady said, “Of course, Dear, I’ve meant to do that anyway.” My mother taught me to ask for what I wanted and not let an employer take advantage of me. I, too, knew the kind lady would have allowed me to work for less forever.
Merriam Webster defines equality as the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Similar: fairness, justness, equitability, impartiality, and even-handedness. RBG spent her life quietly and steadily fighting for that word for every person. She said, “When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court’ and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” RBG, Merriam Webster, and I think alike on that matter. Why does anything but performance, honesty, and morals matter? Color of skin? Gender? What do they have to do with anything?
I recommend seeing the movie about RBG’s life, “On the Basis of Sex.” It is excellent—it shows her struggles, achievements, and core passion for “Liberty and justice for all.”
She, along with generations of women, many in my current circle of friends, deserve a virtual hug of gratitude for a life well lived and a job well done. Their efforts for equality are not in vain.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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