Gratitude: Thank You Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Since learning of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday night, I’ve been inconsolable. She was one of my biggest role models and her passing marks the end of an incredible era and occurs at a time of great unrest and uncertainty in our nation. I don’t know what happens next. None of us do. I’m terrified, but being brave doesn’t mean a lack of fear. Being brave means to keep going and to keep fighting even though you’re scared shitless. It means not giving up. RBG was one of the people who taught me that and I can never forget it, especially now.
To deal with my grief, I decided to focus on how grateful I am for the influence RBG has had on my life and the lives of millions of others. Here’s a quick list of some of the many rights I’m grateful that RBG advocated for.
Thank You Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg That:
- I have the right to control my money. It was not until the 1970’s that women could hold a bank account or a credit card without a man’s name on the account. (Fun fact, it wasn’t until 1988 that legislation was passed ensuring a woman could get a business loan on her own without a male cosigner.) In this world, a woman had to rely on the good intentions of her husband or male relative in relationship to the cash in her account. If that man decided that the money was his and chose to withdraw it and use it for himself, there was minimal to no legal recourse. Imagine if I’d saved for decades for FIRE, and my brother withdrew everything I had and left me penniless to start over.
- I have the right to control when or if I have a child. For now, I have access to safe and affordable birth control and do not need permission from my husband to get a prescription. Children don’t have to be outlandishly expensive, but they are certainly an added monetary and time expense. Very few women want to reproduce every single time they have sex. I cannot emphasize enough that having the right to decide when and if I have a child is an enormous gamechanger. It means I have more control over my health, my career development, my finances, and so many other facets of my life that pregnancy and raising a child affects.
- Speaking of career development, I can no longer be fired for being pregnant. I can still be passed over for a promotion while pregnant, I can still be let go while I’m on maternity leave, I can still generally be discriminated against for being female in a lot of different ways. But, my employer is no longer allowed to explicitly state that my second X chromosome or my reproductive history or future is the reason for it. RBG was once demoted explicitly for having a child. She saw this injustice and fought so that others won’t face what she did.
- My husband can be legally recognized as a caretaker and I can legally be recognized as a breadwinner. The law used to reflect the gender stereotype that men functioned as the financial providers for the family and women functioned as the caretakers. It’s important to remember that RBG believed in and fought for equal rights between men and women. The fact that we remember her more for her work advocating for women’s rights is an indicator of how much more help women needed in gaining equal footing than men.
- I have the right to marry someone of the same sex as me in all 50 states. Marriage acknowledged by the legal system offers countless privileges and rights that deeply and profoundly affect the lives of those in the relationship. The list is so long I don’t have the time to comprehensively cover it. But, it does include hospital visitation rights, shared custody of children, shared marital assets, and the ability to get on your spouse’s health insurance.
- For now, the Affordable Care Act is still in play. I can get insurance that covers preexisting conditions in all 50 states regardless of my employment status. This is a common discussion among many early retirement seekers in the US. In fact, most early retirement pans are contingent upon the ACA providing affordable and comprehensive health insurance.
- I have the right to fair pay and experience equality in the workplace. I’m preaching to the choir when I say that saving a treasure chest full of money to live off for the rest of your life is tough. It’s a hell of a lot tougher when your employer can legally discriminate against you and pay you less because you’re a woman.
This brief list does not cover the tip of the iceberg of RBG’s accomplishments and legacy. She was a tireless crusader who fought endlessly for gender rights.
Thank you Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thank you for your years fighting for gender rights. Your work has truly made a difference and our lives will forever be better because of you.
*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I have cited all of my research and encourage you to look up this legislation if you would like to know more.