The notorious RBG’s life and legacy is a great inspiration

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Associated Press

RBG’s memorial

Danielle Elliott, Contributor

On Sept. 18 I was on a Zoom call when my phone lit up with a notification. It read, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of Gender Equality, Dies At 87.”

My heart collapsed. As a woman interested in academia, RBG’s work is why I get to pursue my dreams. RBG’s life has inspired women like me to chase after their dreams until their dying day — to chase after gender equality until it comes to be.

RBG’s ability to continually say no to barriers inspires me. Not only did RBG make law review at Harvard Law School, but she did it again at Columbia Law when she transferred and finished her degree there. This was a significant accomplishment at the time, regardless of her gender.

Although her struggles did not end when she showed her abilities to succeed, RBG never stopped fighting for gender equality. Even in her death, RBG has become the first woman to lie in state. She never stopped breaking barriers.

I work at a gym and face sexism from club members almost every time I go into work. I was recently cleaning a mirror and needed to get a stack of free weights out of the way so that I could reach the mirror. Although I am not a heavy weight lifting champion, I was slowly able to push the free weights.

That was until a gentleman who was working out saw me and loudly called across the gym floor, “Woah, woah, woah. You can’t be doing that. Stop, stop, stop. Let me do that for you. You have to have babies one day; you can’t be lifting like that. You have to have babies.”

Here I was, just working my job as best as possible, and somehow was minimized to my ability to bear children. 

I had RBG on my mind that day, and I worked hard to finish cleaning the mirror and then proceeded to move the weights back on my own. RBG’s life shows not only how capable she was, but how capable women are. 

Although moments like this, where someone reduces me to my childbearing skills, are frustrating, I also know that without women like RBG, I likely would not have the job that I do. Without RBG, there is no way I would have not only a female manager but also a female regional manager. 

Without RBG, NIU, as a state-funded school, could deny me from being admitted simply for being a woman. Without RBG, I would not be able to have a personal bank account without a male co-signer. Without RBG, Roe v. Wade may not have passed. Without RBG, same-sex marriage would be illegal. The list continues. There is no way to repay RBG for all that she did for me, women, and LGBTQ+ rights. 

From her own words, thanks to RBG, “We are at last beginning to relegate to the history books the idea of the token woman.”