Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"]

Top Story CP

Ginsburg’s impact on women spanned age groups, backgrounds

Published

9 minute read

NEW YORK — Sure, there were the RBG bobbleheads, the Halloween getups, the lace collars, the workout videos. The “I dissent” T-shirts, the refrigerator magnets, the onesies for babies or costumes for cats. And yes, the face masks, with slogans like: “You can’t spell TRUTH without RUTH.”

But the pop culture status that Ruth Bader Ginsburg found — or rather, that found her — in recent years was just a side show, albeit one that amused her, to the unique and profound impact she had on women’s lives. First as a litigator who fought tenaciously for the courts to recognize equal rights for women, one case at a time, and later as the second woman to sit on the hallowed bench of the Supreme Court, Ginsburg left a legacy of achievement in gender equality that had women of varied ages and backgrounds grasping for words this weekend to describe what she meant to them.

“She was my teacher in so many ways,” said Gloria Steinem, the nation’s most visible feminist leader, in an interview. But even if she hadn’t known her personally, Steinem said, it was due to Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87 of complications of cancer, that “for the first time I felt the Constitution was written for me.”

“Now, it wasn’t written for me — it left out most folks, actually, when it was written,” Steinem added. But, she said, by forcing the courts to address issues like workplace discrimination, sexual assault and a host of others, Ginsburg “literally made me feel as if I had access to the law, because Ruth was there.”

But the extent of Ginsburg’s influence was felt not only by older women like Steinem, 86, who understood from experience the obstacles Ginsburg faced, such as not being able to find a job at a New York law firm despite graduating at the top of her class at Columbia Law School.

Younger women and girls also say they were inspired by the justice’s achievements, her intellect and her fierce determination as she pursued her career. Hawa Sall, 20, a first-generation college student in New York, said it was Ginsburg who inspired her to attend Columbia, where she’s now an undergraduate studying human rights and planning on law school.

“Her resilience, her tenacity, her graciousness through it all — she’s always been one of my biggest inspirations in life,” said Sall, who lives in Brooklyn where Ginsburg was born, and whose family comes from Mali and Senegal. “She’s what I’ve always wanted to be, and still want to be.”

Sall says she was fascinated by what she learned about Ginsburg when she attended an event at the Lower Eastside Girl’s Club in Manhattan for the 2015 book, “Notorious RBG,” by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (the title played on the name of Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G.) That book was part of a wave of rock-star like fame that enveloped Ginsburg in her later years on the bench, making her a hero to a younger generation: There was also a famed impression by Kate McKinnon on “Saturday Night Live,” a feature film, starring Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, and the hit documentary “RBG,” both in 2018.

Julie Cohen and Betsy West, who co-directed “RBG,” saw firsthand how women of all ages quickly identified with Ginsburg.

“We’d go to screenings … and afterward older women who had been through the kind of discrimination she faced as a young woman would be sobbing … because they knew what she was up against, and what she did to help them and their daughters and granddaughters,” West said.

But also, Cohen added: “She became a huge symbolic figure for young women and even girls in a way that we hadn’t anticipated. So many children came to the movie, often little girls dressed in little robes. … Girls seemed to find her just mesmerizing.”

West theorizes the fascination might have come from Ginsburg’s small stature. Her legacy, though, was nothing less than enormous, she said: “She changed the world for American women.”

It wasn’t just Democratic-leaning women who praised Ginsburg. Stacey Feeback, a 33-year-old Fayetteville, North Carolina, voter at a weekend rally for President Donald Trump, said the justice was “an inspirational woman.”

“She meant a lot to the (women’s) movement,” Feeback said. “She’s been an inspiration. She’s brought America and women forward in a generation.”

Ginsburg first gained fame as a litigator for the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, which she directed in the ’70s. The project marked “a real turning point for situating women’s rights not just as a gender issue, but as a civil rights issue that affected all of us,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, its current head.

At the time, the Supreme Court had never applied the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” to strike down a law because of gender discrimination. That changed in 1971 with a case in which Ginsburg helped persuade the high court to invalidate an Idaho law that called for choosing men over women to administer the estates of the dead.

Two years later, she again prevailed — making her first oral argument before the high court she would later join — in the case of a female Air Force officer whose husband was denied spousal benefits that male officers’ wives automatically received.

“For every gender injustice that we see today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw it first, and she fought it first,” said Tabacco Mar.

Devi Rao, one of Ginsburg’s law clerks in 2013, said the justice had taught her that “law isn’t just about the law — it’s about the people whose lives are impacted by those laws.”

Rao, who now works on appellate cases for a civil rights firm, said Ginsburg “distinguished herself in a man’s world and on a man’s court without looking like them or sounding like them, but simply because they couldn’t deny the power of her ideas. She teaches women and girls not to count themselves out even though they don’t look like those in power.”

It’s that lesson that mothers like Brianne Burger hope their daughters will understand. Earlier this year, Burger posted a photo of her daughter Adi, 5, on Facebook, outfitted as RBG in black robe and glasses for a school dress-up day in Washington, D.C. The girl came home delighted, her mother said, that so many people recognized her costume.

“She still talks about that day,” said Burger.

Asked what Adi understands about Ginsburg, the mother replied: “She knows that RBG made girls equal to boys.”

___

Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York, Jessica Gresko in Washington and Bryan Anderson in Fayetteville, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press



Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

Top Story CP

Fredericton Police say writer RM Vaughan found dead days after going missing

Published on

Police in New Brunswick say missing writer Richard Vaughan has been found dead. He was 55.

The author and video artist, who wrote under the name RM Vaughan, was a revered figure in Canada’s LGBTQ arts scene.

Fredericton Police say his body was found on Friday, 10 days after he was reported missing, and that his death is not being treated as suspicious.

Born in Saint John, N.B, Vaughan recently returned to his home province from Montreal to serve as writer-in-residence at his alma mater, the University of New Brunswick for 2019-2020.

Police say he was last seen near his home in downtown Fredericton on Monday, Oct. 12, and he was reported missing the next day.

The news sparked a flurry of concern in literary circles, with many writers sharing posts urging people to keep an eye out for Vaughan.

Vaughan’s bibliography includes the poetry collections “A Selection of Dazzling Scarves,” “Invisible to Predators,” “Ruined Stars,” “Troubled” and “Ve1Xe”; the novels “Quilted Heart” and “Spells”; and the play “Camera, Woman” and “The Monster Trilogy.”

His works often touched on queer stories of coming-of-age and eroticism. He also had a taste for the supernatural and macabre, and was captivated by the world of the celebrity.

A contributor to a variety of publications and anthologies, Vaughan published the book of essays “Compared to Hitler” in 2013 featuring many of his takes on contemporary culture.

In the 2015 non-fiction book “Bright Eyed,” Vaughan examined the health and historical context of his lifelong battle with insomnia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Top Story CP

Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Published on

NASHVILLE — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought over how to tame the raging coronavirus during the campaign’s closing debate, largely shelving the rancour that overshadowed their previous face-off in favour of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to the major domestic and foreign challenges facing the nation.

The Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.” Biden countered that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.”

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Biden said.

With less than two weeks until the election, Trump portrayed himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans, especially when it comes to the pandemic.

The president, who promised a vaccine within weeks, said the worst problems are in states with Democratic governors, a contention at odds with rising cases in states that voted for Trump in 2016. Biden, meanwhile, vowed that his administration would defer to scientists on battling the pandemic and said that Trump’s divisive approach on suffering states hindered the nation’s response.

“I don’t look at this in terms of the way he does — blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus — they’re the red states.”

After a first debate defined by angry interruptions, the Thursday event featured a mostly milder tone. And in a campaign defined by ugly personal attacks, the night featured a surprising amount of substantive policy debate as the two broke sharply on the environment, foreign policy, immigration and racial justice.

When Trump repeatedly asked Biden if he would “close down the oil industry,” the Democratic standardbearer said he “would transition from the oil industry, yes,” and that he would replace it by renewable energy “over time.” Trump, making a direct appeal to voters in energy producing states like Texas and the vital battleground of Pennsylvania, seized upon the remark as “a big statement.”

Perhaps sensing that the comment could soon appear in Trump campaign ads, Biden did a little clean-up boarding his plane after the debate, declaring, “We’re not going to ban fossil fuels. We’ll get rid of the subsidies of fossil fuels but not going to get rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”

As the debate swept to climate change, Trump explained his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord negotiated in 2015, declaring it was an unfair pact that would have cost the country trillions of dollars and hurt businesses.

Trump repeatedly claimed Biden’s plan to tackle climate change and invest in green industries was developed by “AOC plus three,” referring to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden chuckled during much of Trump’s answer and said, “I don’t know where he comes from.”

On race, Biden called out Trump’s previous refusals to condemn white supremacists and his attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, declaring that the president “pours fuel on every single racist fire.”

“You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” Biden said. The rivals’ reputations for “honour and for telling to truth” are clear, he said.

Trump countered by pointing out his efforts on criminal justice reform and blasting Biden’s support of a 1990s Crime Bill that many feel disproportionately incarcerated Black men. Staring into the crowd, he declared himself “the least racist person in this room.”

Turning to foreign policy, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summits with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice-president laced into the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border.

Biden said that America has learned from a New York Times report that Trump paid only $750 a year in federal taxes while holding “a secret bank account” in China. The former vice-president then noted he’s released all of his tax returns going back 22 years and challenged the president to release his returns, saying, “What are you hiding?”

Trump said he closed his former account in China and claimed his accountants told him he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes. However, as he has for the past four years after promising to release his taxes, he declined to say when he might do so.

Trump said that when it comes to health care, he would like “to terminate” the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, even amid a pandemic, and come up “with a brand new beautiful health care,” that protects coverage for preexisting conditions. Biden said the president has been talking about making such a move for years but “he’s never come up with a plan.”

He also denounced Trump’s claim that Biden wanted to socialize medicine, creating daylight between himself and the more liberal members of his party whom he defeated in the Democratic primaries.

“He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” the former vice-president said. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

It remained to be seen if Trump, who is trailing in the race, managed to change the trajectory of the campaign. More than 47 million votes already have been cast, and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in previous election years.

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions. And questions swirled beforehand as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed deeply personal attacks on Biden and his adult son.

When he feels cornered, Trump has often lashed out, going as negative as possible. In one stunning moment during the 2016 campaign, in an effort to deflect from the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he is heard boasting about groping women, Trump held a press conference just before a debate with Hillary Clinton during which he appeared with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. He then invited them to watch as audience members.

In a similar move, Trump’s campaign held another surprise pre-debate news conference, this time featuring Tony Bobulinski, a man who said he was Hunter Biden’s former business partner and made unproven allegations that the vice-president’s son consulted with his father on China-related business dealings.

Trump made similar, if vague, accusations from the debate stage, but exchanges about Hunter Biden did not dominate the night as aides on both campaigns thought might happen. Biden declared the discussion about family entanglements “malarkey” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the substantive issues.

Turning to the camera and the millions of people watching at home, Biden said, “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family is hurting badly.”

___

Lemire reported from Washington, Price from Las Vegas. Additional reporting from Steve Peoples in Nashville, Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Alexandra Jaffe, Stephen Braun and Zeke Miller in Washington and Aamer Madhani in Chicago.

___

AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/.

Jonathan Lemire, Michelle L. Price, Darlene Superville And Will Weissert, The Associated Press

Continue Reading

Trending

X