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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Examining the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg


The following is an opinion made by Caroline Clink.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was never my hero.

After her death, many people have begun celebrating the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and fearing for the future without her on social media.

Ginsburg has been lauded as a feminist icon for her positions on gender equality and reproductive rights for years now. This notoriety made it so that her face was being sold on everything from shirts to mugs to posters.

When I first started seeing Ruth Bader Ginsburg merch being sold, I had no idea who she was. I didn’t understand why this woman was suddenly one of the biggest symbols of feminism out there. It was a while before I learned that she was a Supreme Court Justice, but even then I didn’t understand the obsession. 

We all want to have somebody to look up to as an idol and as someone we strive to be more like, but that person should never be a political figure. They are not elected or appointed to positions of power for us to celebrate the minimal concessions they will give to support our rights, they are elected to serve us.

Ginsburg seems to be best known for her support of reproductive rights, and now people have begun viewing her death as the end of equitable access to them in the United States. But, that isn’t true. We have never had equal access to reproductive rights. 

Just recently news broke that numerous immigrant women imprisoned by ICE in Georgia had been forcefully sterilized without their consent. This was happening in the United States and it is not something that can just be ignored simply because the women were immigrants. It cannot be said that there has ever been equal and just access to reproductive healthcare for everybody when this is happening inside our borders by our doctors.

Abortions are also not as accessible as all Ginsburg fans would want you to believe. Despite them being legal to perform, that is something that is constantly being fought in many states. Even if it is legal in a state, having access to a place that performs them is a different story not to mention that they come with a price. If it is not something that someone can afford out-of-pocket, then they don’t get an abortion. 

She was never a hero for all women, only a select few. Her image became synonymous with white feminism while she was paraded around as perfect and infallible.

In a lot of discussions surrounding Ginsburg many of the beliefs that she long-held have been ignored.

In the Supreme Court, she has time after time come out in favor of decisions that upheld anti-immigrant, anti-indigenous and anti-Black sentiments. She has only ever worked to support white supremacist ruling class interests while serving as a Supreme Court Justice. 

It’s been hard to avoid the many people now rhapsodising over her accomplishments. To them, this country is doomed without her. But, this belief ignores the work that everyday people have been doing for centuries and will continue to do in the wake of her passing.

Ginsburg was not the first person to support reproductive rights. She was never an activist at the forefront of any of the movements she now represents. She was not some radical thinker or the leader of your revolution, she always knowingly upheld and benefited from the white supremacist system that we live in. 

The only message that has been widespread in the wake of her passing is the call from liberal thinkers everywhere to vote. They believe that our problems will be solved if we all just went out and voted. Their response to people feeling hopeless at the current state of the country is to tell them to vote, something that was not any more of a comfort back in 2016 as it is now. This is our only option. 

As long as we still foolishly hold hope that we live in a democracy and that alone will save us, we will never see any meaningful change. If the death of a single person is enough for everybody to start fearing that we will lose any rights that we have been granted, that is not a system that works or is beneficial for anybody except those with privilege and power.

People are allowed to be sad that she has passed and worried about what will happen with the next SCOTUS nominee, but her life cannot be blindly celebrated without the acknowledgment of the great harm she had also done to marginalized communities. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, alive or dead, was never going to be the leader of your revolution and that truth, while it may be hard to accept, is something we all need to acknowledge.

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