As International Women's Day approaches, I have been reflecting a lot on all the influential women in my life. I'm lucky to have so many family members like my mom, my aunts, and my grandmothers to look up to for support and for guidance in my life. I consider all of them my mentors and heroes.
However, when it comes to women in politics, music, and other sorts of media, there is no doubt in mind that Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the cake for the most influential woman in my life.
I first learned about the "Notorious RBG" in seventh grade when I drew her name for a project call "Night of the Notables." This event was the most anticipated event for the school. It was a night where the seventh graders dressed up like notable politicians, artists, actors, and other figures in history and would memorize a speech that they prepared about their person. Then, parents, siblings, teachers, other students and basically everyone else in the community would go to the school and buy tickets to put in the student's jar to get them to recite their speeches. It was both a way to get students to learn about figures throughout all of history and to raise money for the school.
So, naturally, drawing your notable figure's name was a big deal for us seventh graders. I can remember being so nervous walking up to the teacher's desk to pull a name out, especially because I had no idea what to expect. I really wanted to get Helen Keller, Cleopatra, or someone else that I was familiar with. When I pulled out the name "Ruth Bader Ginsburg," I remember thinking, "Who the *expletive* is that?!" I had no idea how lucky I was to pull that name.
The "Night of the Notables" project was one that lasted months. It started with the seventh graders gathering all the information they could on their person as possible. I remembered being slightly bummed out about not having someone as cool as Joan of Arc or Audrey Hepburn. Yet, as I started to learn more about Ruth, I realized how cool she was.
She was one of the first women on the Supreme Court, which was fun because one of my friend's notable figures was Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court. I learned about Ruth's struggle as one of eight females in a class of 500 at Harvard Law School, her endless fight for gender equality through the Women's Rights Project of the ACLU, and her battles with cancer and I thought to myself, "hey, maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn't too bad."
When "Night of the Notables" did come around, I was proudly dressed in my mom's graduation gown from college, a nice collared blouse, large, thin-rimmed glasses, and one of the biggest law books my Dad owned. I confidently repeated my speech dozens of times that night, especially because my cousin kept putting tickets in my container to annoy me. I earned an A on the project but more importantly, I gained a hero.
Even now, as a college student, when I hear the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg I sometimes catch myself muttering, "Hi, my name is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was born on March 15, 1933...", which was the beginning of my speech for "Night of the Notables." I was one of the first people to see the "RBG" documentary on "Hulu," and have at least five books about her on the shelves in my dorm. I even have a sticker of her on my water bottle.
She, to me, is the definition of badass. Not only did she fight through cancer while never missing a day on the bench, but she also has proved to be a force to be reckoned through her dissents and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Some girl's heroes are sports players or musicians or actresses or religious figures. All of which are justifiable and well grounded. However, I am proud to say that my hero is an 85-year-old, 5'1", Jewish grandmother who serves as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.