The Rise Of The Notorious R.B.G.


Rebecca Traister is thrilled by Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s rise to meme-hood:

Throughout history, we have acknowledged male strength, especially in its seniority, as serious and authoritative. Older women, on the other hand, have existed mostly as nanas, bubbes! Those sturdy, ambitious souls who also staked claims to public eminence were cast as problematic; tough ladies who no longer slide easily into Lycra are ball-busters, nut-crackers, and bitches.

Overriding these entrenched assumptions has been nearly impossible, even in the hundred years since women have had the vote, and in the 60 years [sic] since the feminist revolution of the ’70s. Recall that just six years ago, there was simply no popular script available to positively convey then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s identity as a strong and ambitious politician. … It was in those same years that Justice Ginsburg was barbecuing the court’s decision to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban in Gonzales v. Carhart, furiously pointing out that the protection of reproductive rights is not about “some vague or generalized notion of privacy” but rather about “a woman’s autonomy to decide for herself her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”

Back then, when Twitter was just taking off and Tumblr was being launched, and we still were relying on a largely centralized media to bring us our news, there was no one who set those words to music (though there should have been). Now, mercifully – finally – young people who are creating a new vocabulary, a library of visual and aural iconography that warmly appreciates female power in not just its nubile, but also its senior, its brainy, its furious, and its professionally brawny forms.

(Image via Shana Knizhnik’s Notorious R.B.G. tumblr)