PERSPECTIVE--Although this is mainly a piece in honor of the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there is an important personal caveat.
You see, I actually did not support many of her stances on issues.
That said, what is it about her that I respect so much? In short, she "got to the top," the highest court of the land, based on her MERIT. She did not rely on any cultural crutches. These "identity" privileges sometime seven occur unconsciously. Examples, please??
Consider this exhaustive list of identities: gender, race, religion, family, friends, "who ya know" folks, weight, facial appearance, physical relationship engagements, age, political affiliation, wealth, social club membership, union membership, class, fame, etc. Wow!
As it turns out, employment standards are often nuanced, due to various forms of affirmative action (not only race) and to all those group identities mentioned above. (In fact, this discussion changes the notion of privilege; perhaps it goes far beyond default "whiteness," as is currently trending.
This could be a wonderful discussion perhaps for another time.) Although Justice Ginsburg was the "poster-woman" for women's rights, she did not use her "female privilege" in the later years. Granted, it was not easy for women going into the law field in the 50's, but as time went on, women's empowerment (the "female privilege") snowballed to where it is now, such that we see memes as, "Believe all women" and view huge pro-women marches on our TV's each year.
Would it not be wonderful if people were hired solely based on merit? It seems that would be the most "just". At any rate, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the embodiment of work ethic, fierce determination, and humility.
Now...this is where things get really interesting.
Not only did she rebuke all "preferences" in hiring, she wrote decisions tearing down preferences, including gender. Ginsburg left behind a legal standard which makes it almost impossible to create any preferential policies for women. When she said she was against "preference" in any way, SHE MEANT IT. Paradoxically, although celebratory in her advocation for "equality for ALL," many feminists felt alienated by Ginsburg's non-recognition of "under-privileged" and "disadvantaged" groups.
Justice Ginsburg created a paradox, and in a way, she was one. On one hand, she was the "Equality Judge," yet on the other hand, many women of color and other minorities did not agree with her "no preference across the board" stance. Some argued that their white counterparts had "white privilege." Hence, there should be a kind of a judicial balancing act: On one side of the scale of justice, we have total equality...and on the other, we have a fair accounting for "white privilege." (How that would be done, I have no idea.) Even further eye-opening, Ginsburg's judicial insistence of "no preference" theory aligns more with the anti-affirmative action sentiments of her conservative counterparts, Scalia, and Thomas! (As an interesting note, she and Justice Scalia were good friends, although generally of very opposite views on the bench. They were also often seen attending the opera together.) Nonetheless, she will always remain a judicial giant for her decisions on issues of gender discrimination, "abortion rights", search and seizure law (of one's own body), LGBT rights, and many others.
Truly, Justice Ginsberg was a Lion (Lioness) of the High Court, who never played the "gender card",
or any card, for that matter, as some others do. She had a great mind and used that gift to the greatest potential. (All to often, I believe that we, including myself, could do so much more if we use our gifts to the fullest extent!) As a case in point, she graduated first in her class, from Cornell University, in 1954. Especially for females, regardless if one agrees with her views, she is the quintessential role model, the blueprint, of how to become "a lion...while starting out, a lamb."
RIP, Notorious RBG!
(Kevin Suscavage worked as staff with the CA Assembly, originated the "Butterfly Bill," and has written for CityWatch LA, North Valley Reporter, CA Political Review, and the Jewish Journal. He's written about socio-political issues on both sides of the aisle.)