While the blow is still a bit too new and raw to fathom, it seems right to put to words the emotions many women are feeling these few short days after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Like many, my heart sank and immediately my brain went into a tailspin, and I felt my stomach clench at the prospect of the scales of justice tipping so precariously with the loss of such a leading figure of gender equality. I felt the collective gasp of all women, who suddenly in a matter of minutes of hearing the news, felt a vast uncertainty about our freedoms and rights like we have never known.
And because I was alone that evening, I went for a walk to help settle myself. It wasn't until I got to the end of my trail and came upon a mural that's in progress of being painted, that I truly felt the impact and gravity of what had just transpired. In this mural is painted a woman with her head above the waterline, one hand floating above the water, but the rest of her body is below the surface. The look on her face is not one of tranquility. At that moment, that woman in the mural spoke to me and said, "We're still drowning."
The pin popped the balloon of my emotions and down came the rain of tears. There I was, standing alone, in front of that mural, with a sense of despair so heavy in my heart and I knew, that all across the world that night millions of other women felt exactly the same way as I did.
And that's when my stockpile of determination set in.
The loss of such a huge figure of significance to women's rights is stunning to be sure, but even more tragic I think, is that despite the decades and decades of work done to improve the rights of women throughout our history, it seems even more tragic that our loss is amplified because of one woman who stood in this position who is now not there to defend us. One woman. Should we not also be asking ourselves how it came to be that so much of our hope rested upon the work of one woman? Is is not equally worth questioning why our fates still rest in the hands of so little feminine power?
I'll admit, when I first heard the news, I caved and declared that yes, 2020 is now officially THE WORST, year ever. But I've changed over the last few months and the wind doesn't get knocked out of my sails as easily anymore. That same evening and even into the next morning, through my tears watching all the tributes pouring in, I felt an inner strength that wanted to voice all the things that aren't being said about women's rights and about the responsibility we have as women to one other and the equal responsibility the men in our lives have to us.
There are two very simple things we can do right now to see that the fate of gender equality does not reverse and take two steps backwards in history. One is that we can support one another as women. We may all come from different walks of life but our gender binds us. When women place more emphasis on judging, criticizing, or tearing each other down, this sets us back exponentially. We may not all have the same beliefs, but there is strength in numbers, and as such, we owe it to ourselves, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters to set the example that we women will not expend our energy fighting one another, but instead band together to move the needle and cement our stake in the ground of this still very male-centric world. As Justice Ginsburg said, "You can disagree without being disagreeable." As women it's important to remember and to teach that to have our own voice, our own opinions is a right and a gift. I wish for a day when we can have more thoughtful conversations and debates with one another without this demonstrative hate that has permeated so many of the critical issues that face our world and our sex at this very moment.
The second thing that needs to happen in order for this to not slide back 100 years in the wrong direction, is that all of the men in our lives need to listen up and start supporting women. Our husbands, partners, fathers, brothers, uncles, male co-workers all need to understand what feminism truly means, and that it's not some made up label that independent, liberal women who don't shave their armpits made up. It's also not that image even though that's probably what a lot of men conjure when they hear the word. Men can be feminists just by the very sheer fact of acknowledging that the lives of women they know have just as much value as what they place upon their own. And you know what? All men need to understand that leveling the playing field truly benefits us all. More opportunity for diversity at the table, especially the table where significant decisions are being made, is not only fair and just, it should be a given. We shouldn't even be having this particular conversation anymore. I don't want to encourage the divisiveness that exists when people question how our world has turned out with men at the helm all these years. What I will say is that, while we as women have all the strength and courage we need right now to continue to take on the work that Justice Ginsburg and countless other women have carved a path for all these years, this fight will be magnified tenfold when men, who have the sense in their hearts and their heads to join with us, find the courage within themselves to speak out when they see our rights being taken away, trampled on, and in peril of being erased. This is not the time for the men in our lives to be silent. If they are not sickened by what just happened here this week, they're about to get the crudest wake up call they've ever experienced in their lives.
So while it may be difficult to imagine a world without her, the legacy that Justice Ginsburg leaves is actually one which she so beautifully left for us to finish. I know her passing just inspired a million mothers who will now inspire a million daughters to continue persevering in this new climate of change in women's rights and history. It is ripe for the taking. Now let's go get it.