I’m not ready to reflect on the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I’m conflicted about how her life and what her loss means to those close to her as a human will be over-shadowed by The Discourse; however, in the same way I would happily dance on the grave of David Koch, as a public figure I think that we, culturally, are able to seek interpretation of legacy in the moment.
That said, the he Republicans will be gleefully jacking off all the way to securing a lame duck appointment no matter what the outcome of the election is. This was what they sold their souls to Trump for, the best case scenario–a 6-3 court for generations.
So, there’s that. And lots of people—especially women or adjacent marginalized groups—are mourning something abstract but intensely personal to a shared experience. There’s a weight right now like when HRC lost (and the discourse leading up to that during the campaign). It’s hard not to feel that as a shared trauma from having seen so much of your life, career, and experience reflected in someone twice as qualified (or more) taken half as seriously.
So yeah, it feels personal to reflect on both her life and the current political climate surrounding her death. This isn’t about me, but it’s about the patterns and feelings I and other non-male people spend so much time with.
I’m only very roughly paraphrasing this from actual conversations, but: “You’re so angry, Madison. Have less anger, why are you angry at all men?”
1.) Why shouldn’t I be angry?
2.) I’m not angry at “men,” I’m angry an patriarchal power systems that got us in this mess but yes, I use “men” as a shorthand in phrases like “we eat the men at dawn.”
3.) It’s fascinating how few “men” think I’m angry at them, personally, for being shitty and that they happen to pack dick in various ways.
So sure, dismiss my experiences and absolve yourself of how your misogynistic bullshit upholds the status quo because I’m just “angry at all men” and you can’t listen to the people trying to tell you you’re being An Ass.
Truly, for the love of the false god, someone please explain to me what parts of our anger are unjustified or lack nuance or lack basis in fact.
But you know what? If they’re the allies we need then I’ll give them the fucking cookies they want and stroke their egos and cover for their blind spots. It’s what we’ve always had to do and that’s what feels so crushingly hopeless. Always, always, we have to catch flies with honey. If you’re carrion instead—or a fly swatter—you’ve offended their fragile sensibilities or robbed them of the protector role that stokes their egos. They like strong women as long as they still get to be stronger.
I feel haunted by that passage in The Handmaid’s Tale where Luke tells the narrator that he’ll “take care of her,” even when she’s lost access to her accounts and credit cards. Luke means well, but she thinks to herself that that’s not the point; it’s the loss of independence, of the agency to control her own circumstances that’s the point. The sinking feeling of that is the cost to convincing a subset of allies to support the work.
RBG gave everything she had right up until the very end like the god damn Giving Tree and that’s the anger I have. That’s the generational anger of women and other people in “giver” roles. It doesn’t stop; it’s a never-ending clear cutting program. Even when we’re “strong,” we have to play by rules we didn’t make. Dissent is “hysteria,” self-respect is “selfishness,” awareness is “blind anger,” professionalism is “unlikable.”
So whatever, I’ll bake the cookies when I can and fawn how they want and let parts of my soul die if it’ll help the next girl–feels like a fucking hamster wheel though.