"People ask me sometimes, when do you think it will be enough? When will there be enough women on the Court? And my answer is, when there are nine." Those are the words (opens in new tab) of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, who passed away from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020, at 87 years old. It's impossible to describe the loss our country—especially women—has felt over the past few days, while urgently fighting to grant RBG her final wish (opens in new tab): that she won't be replaced until a new president is installed.
As we continue to mourn the loss of a true champion for equal rights, Marie Claire asked women across the country to reflect on what RBG meant to them. We hope their responses inspire you to continue to uphold her legacy, and ensure the progress she has made for Americans lives on for years to come.
More Than a Feminist Icon
"Justice Ginsburg actually played a very significant role in my family’s story, representing Stephen Wiesenfeld (opens in new tab) when he sought social security survivor’s benefits after his wife (my grandpa’s cousin) died during childbirth. Those benefits were previously only available to widows, not widowers. To me, this is an important reminder that she was so much more than a feminist icon; when she said gender equality, she meant it whether you were a woman or a man. I’ll always admire how brilliant she was to open the minds of many men to understanding gender discrimination by proving to them that it impacts all of us." —Ali V., Florida, 26
The Personification of Grit
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only proof I’ll ever need that superheroes don’t wear capes. Instead, they wear black robes, amazing glasses, and crewnecks reading 'SUPER DIVA' across the chest. The economic and societal freedoms women are able to enjoy in 2020 are directly attributed to RBG’s work in fighting for gender equality. In our mothers’ and grandmothers’ lifetime, up until 1974, all single, divorced, or widowed women had to have a male present to cosign any credit application. RBG was the personification of grit. As women, we owe it to her to vote out Trump in November." —Jaimie P., New Jersey, 25
A Champion of Freedom and Titan of Gender Equality
"For me, Justice Ginsburg will always be an icon—a champion of reproductive freedom and a titan of gender equality. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to speak with her about the status of abortion rights (opens in new tab) in this country, where she expressed great concern and frustration with the systemic dismantling of our personal autonomy. In that conversation, I remember being deeply moved by her presence—her eyes were fierce and her inner power palpable. I was with a true warrior, outfitted with lace gloves and a delicate beaded purse. That’s how I’ll always remember Justice Ginsburg—as the embodiment of resilience and strength. For those of us fighting for gender equality, she was an inspiration leading the way at every turn. I am devastated by this loss, but completely determined to honor her legacy by working every day for universal reproductive freedom." —Heidi S., New York, 49
Her Legacy Will Live On
"I will never forget when I was in kindergarten class, we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had drawn myself as a lawyer. A little boy in my class made a comment about how girls are usually 'mommys,' not lawyers, and I said to myself, well I can be both. Now, I am a 3L in my last year of law school. Although I’ve only been in the profession for a short period of time, I’ve already felt the discomfort, self-doubt, and misgivings that I’m not supposed to be here. When I was in college, I started reading a lot about Ruth and her story. It was so inspiring. She has been such an encouragement to me that I can do anything. Although her passing is devastating, I know her legacy lives on in many young women, including myself. We will continue her fight." —Gabby V., Maryland, 24
RBG Is Strength
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg is STRENGTH!! She demonstrated her whole life never to allow obstacles to get in the way of your goals. I am grateful that my daughter is able to achieve anything she wants because of the incredible law legacy RBG carved for women and people with disabilities. RBG was Notorious Perfection!!" —Melissa E., Florida, 51
A Role Model
"As a woman guided by Jewish values and passionate about social justice and equity, the life and career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (z"l) meant so much to me. She was my role model. Small in stature, her words and work were anything but. The lives of each and every American have been impacted by Ruth’s work, whether it was during her time as founder of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project or sitting on the bench at the highest court in the land. In the oral dissent that earned her the monicker 'The Notorious RBG' from Shelby County v. Holder (opens in new tab), Justice Ginsburg quoted one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous lines with an important addendum saying, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. But only if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.' May Ruth’s memory be a blessing, and guide us as we continue to move her fight for equal justice under law and a more-perfect union forward." —Elyssa R., New York, 25
One Woman Can't Do It All
"I feel so sad that I did not understand how important her work was until late in her life! I am the mom of three girls and the nana of three young granddaughters. We need more women like RBG to stand up for women’s rights! But, more importantly, we women need to do our part and stand tall for our rights. One woman can’t do it all. We must stand together!" —Linda E., Oregon, 68
Lessons as a Law Student, a Woman, and an American
"As a law student, because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I learned to always make my opinion heard, even if it's the dissenting view. As a woman, because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I learned to not let other people's boundaries dictate how far I can go. As an American, because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I learned that even just one person has the power to make a positive change in our country." —Amanda C., Massachusetts, 25
"RBG was an inspiration to me as a woman, mother, Jew, and badass. Her feisty nature, wit, and determination will only be a small part of her legacy. She fought for what was right and was a strong voice of reason. I will miss her honor, passion, intelligence, conscience, and power." —Sarah L., Florida, 40
Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
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