Honoring Justice Ginsburg, and Protesting Brett Kavanaugh
The importance of speaking up and speaking out
By: Hannah Olund
Two organizations came together to fight for gender justice and represent victims of gender violence at Northrop Auditorium on Thursday, October 4. The University Pro-Choice Coalition and Naral Pro-Choice America partnered to hold a viewing of the documentary “RBG” and a Night of Vigils. This night honored the accomplishments of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all while protesting the election of Brett Kavanaugh. The mission of University Pro-Choice Coalition, who organized the effect, is to protect reproductive rights and freedom, as well as promote sexual health and education in the community. Naral Pro-Choice America, another contributor to the event, is focused on fighting for abortion rights, birth control, paid family leave, and ending pregnancy discrimination.
Before the Night of Vigils took place, pro-choice posters, anti-Kavanaugh posters, and battery powered candles were handed out to the small crowd gathered in the plaza outside of Northrop. Before beginning, we took a moment of silence for victims of sexual assault, bowing our heads solemnly and listening to the chilly wind blow hard against us. While the Night of Vigils was a protest against the election of Brett Kavanaugh, it was also a protest against the possibility of overturning of Roe v. Wade. Leaders from both organizations spoke with passion about the importance of taking a stand against Kavanaugh and against sexual assault in entirety. A member of Naral spoke about how a woman’s choice and control over her body are essential, that there should be no second option. She stood proudly and said, “We are going to take the power back.” This statement stood as a reminder of the importance of standing for what we believe in.
We had just gotten out of an inspirational screening of “RBG,” a documentary detailing the life and impact of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, before the Night of Vigils took place. The documentary was shown in a small auditorium that was packed to the brim. Every seat was taken, and people were still flooding in, trying to sit in every available space. The organizations hosting the event began with a brief introduction about who they are and their missions. The crowd played a quick round of Supreme Court trivia, and then the documentary began. “RBG,” or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, still sits on the Supreme Court today as the second woman ever elected and the oldest member of the court at the age of 85. She has made monumental impacts on the social structure of America throughout her lifetime. According to “RBG,” Justice Ginsburg effectively “changed the way the world is for women” today.
While attending Columbia Law School, Ginsburg was one of just nine women in a class of over 500. At that time, it was very uncommon for women to go to college for a bachelor's degree and especially rare for women to pursue an even higher level of education. Because of this, Ginsburg explained, women were outsiders, constantly treated as weak and inferior. But that did not stop her. Ginsburg was extremely passionate and motivated by her school work. While she was attending law school, Ginsburg’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. She managed to care for her sick husband, complete both his homework and hers, and take care of their two-year-old child. Because of these experiences, Ginsburg began to realize her ability to persevere.
As she was working her way up the professional ranks, Ginsburg became aware that, because of the way society functioned, being a woman was considered an impediment. So, she set out to change this. Once Ginsburg became a lawyer, she started covering cases concerning sexism and gender bias. She had a strategy, and when implemented, she won case after case. She began chipping away at the wall society had built to hold women back. Justice Ginsburg stands today as a figure of female power and independence, wrapped in grace and femininity.
Possibly inspired by the courage of Ginsburg to stand up to the social norms during her time as a lawyer, during the Night of Vigils, many men and women took a stand against sexual assault. Person after person spoke about their direct experience, an experience in their family, or a close friend. Their powerful messages were respected and were always answered with, “We hear you, and we believe you.” It was clear just how important it is for us to fight to end sexual assault. Speak up. Speak out.