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Fighting Words

#NotoriousRBG #RuthBaderGinsburg #Feminist
Just going to drop this post right here.

Fighting Words:

“The best-selling Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Knizhnik and journalist Irin Carmon, focuses on Ginsburg’s evolving image and cultural currency. It reproduces many black-and-white photographs of a stylish and vivacious Ginsburg. (My Own Words includes most of these, too.) As a senior at Cornell in 1954, she resembled a sultry Lizabeth Scott or a glamorous Veronica Lake. As late as 1980, she was elegantly tailored, smiling, and chic in her roles as lawyer, professor, and ACLU strategist. Not until 1984, at the age of 51, was she photographed tight-lipped and forbidding in the black robe of a federal appeals court judge. The judicial robe is intended to mask difference between the judges, and Ginsburg has welcomed it as a symbol of unity: “We are all in the business of impartial judging.” But the robes were never meant for women. Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor adopted a wardrobe of frilly and jeweled collars to mark their difference, but even the lacy jabots make her look like the nineteenth-century suffragists whose lacy caps suggested unthreatening femininity when they spoke in public.

Notorious RBG includes many full-color photographs of Ginsburg in all her private roles—posing with her husband in her judicial robes while he is wearing an apron; in India in a turban, riding on an elephant behind her friend Scalia; white­water rafting with colleagues in Colorado; and, most spectacularly, as a radiant extra in the opera Ariadne auf Naxos at the Kennedy Center, holding a lovely fan, wearing a white ball gown and a flattering platinum wig. Carmon and Knizhnik also display her status as a cultural icon in sketches by court artists, cartoons, portraits, tattoos, nail art, embroidery, greeting cards, Halloween costumes, and fan selfies. Her willingness to be seen and photographed in playful public appearances marks her as one of the most approachably human justices in recent memory. And by bringing her image into popular culture, Carmon and Knizhnik override some of the generational conflicts in feminism that exclude older women from the community.

The chapter titles (“Been in This Game for Years”) are taken from the lyrics of Notorious B.I.G., with subtitles like “RBG’s Swag.” But the book is also thoroughly researched through archives and interviews. The authors are both lively and serious in their attention to Ginsburg’s legal career, providing accessible introductions to her major opinions and dissents, helpfully reprinted with key passages highlighted in boldface, and annotated in red by two law professors. For those to whom RBG’s cultural appeal is obvious, there is an exploration of her legal importance, and vice versa. Perhaps more than anything else, the book demonstrates that to understand her formidable influence, you need to understand both.”

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