Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday of complications from pancreatic cancer she had been fighting for years. Her passing marks a serious loss for the country and to the thousands of women and young girls that she helped to inspire – myself included.
Without her fight and without her spirit, many women would not have the liberties that we have today. Ginsburg was a trailblazer for abortion rights and gender and marriage equality, just to name a few. Because of her fight for equal rights for women, women like me are able to be protected under the Constitution’s equal rights protections. She’s the reason I can proudly say I’m a feminist, and she’s the reason we must continue fighting for equal rights as men.
I grew up naive to issues of gender and marriage inequality – for a long time I didn’t consider myself a feminist. I thought women can do anything men can and that there was no need for such terms and ideas as feminism. As I got older and learned more, I realized the only reason I was able to think that I could do anything a man can was because of the women who came before me – women like Ginsburg who fought for women’s rights to be seen as human rights. We owe it to her, to her legacy and her memory to remember and recognize everything she has done for us.
We all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. Women today stand on the shoulders of people like Ginsburg, who was willing to risk everything and challenge the status quo and fight for what she thought was right. So many of the rights we take for granted today are because of women like Ginsburg. We take for granted that we are able to apply to the same jobs as men, that we are able to have the same educational and financial opportunities and that we are able to have autonomy over our own person. Now that the Supreme Court justice is gone, we can’t forget what she did for us, and we can’t let history repeat itself – we must follow in her footsteps and stand at the forefront of the fight for gender equality.
Women can carry her legacy in their personal lives and careers. We must push for the same wage as men. We can fight for authority positions in our place of work and throw away the notion that any of us are merely meant to be a “housewife.” The struggle for equal rights as men has gone on for centuries – but Ginsburg has reassured us that it’s not an impossible feat.
While many conversations surrounding her passing have been focused on her potential replacement, political parties and President Donald Trump’s next nomination, we must remember that her life made a serious impact on the soul of our nation. RBG was more than just a political prop that stands between a conservative Supreme Court and a more liberal court. She represents decades of work toward women’s equality. Her character and her spirit will live on in any person who looked to her as a symbol of hope, both in her personal life and work in the highest court in the country.
Her passing should be felt as a loss to women all across the country, no matter their political party or ideology. What Ginsburg stood for was more than something that could be prescribed to a political party. Her death must not be seen as a marker of political importance but as a marker of social importance that affects us all. We have a responsibility to carry on her legacy.
Hannah Thacker, a junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.