Ruth, Representation and Why it Matters SO Damn Much
I know the moment I read the news of her passing will forever be etched deep in my mind and will leave a permanent mark on my heart. I didn’t personally know Ruth Bader Ginsburg and she didn’t know me, but I’m lucky to live in a world where she was and is represented for girls and women like me.
She was badass! She represented a smart, successful working mother who championed the causes of others because her moral compass always pointed her to do what was right and just, even if there was no personal gain for her. She’s the kind of human we should all strive to be. Throughout my life I looked up to her; as a teen and as a young woman and still as an adult and mother. That’s the thing...I saw parts of myself represented in her. In a woman who sat on the highest court in the land, as a woman who had kids and a job she loved, and one she was great at.
I hear it all the time, “Why do we need a day for that?”, “When’s the day for me?”, “How silly we’ve become!”, “Let’s make a million of this or that so everyone can see themselves (you must read that with the full sarcasm and hate that it’s stated with)”. I hear it and it kills me. If you don’t see or understand why, then lucky for you, you’re part of a group who somehow has remained more powerful and important than all others for WAY too long. This needs to change. NOW!
Years ago I was looking through rubrics for a new curriculum program and one criteria represented “diversity of photos”. I can still hear the comment made now clear as a bell, “Does that even matter in a Math book, seriously?”. Let that settle in. Of course, it matters! You want to and should be able to open a book or watch a show or see a game and see that who’s in it can be you. And you should be able to see yourself like you would in an actual mirror. We all should be able to. That’s how dreams that people have, are validated and how they are motivated to strive to do the same. This is true for young and old. How can others not understand this?
From the time I was very young, I remember questioning when things were done differently because of differences in others. I remember being constantly frustrated by gender bias comments and by how the biases played out around me. Girls are fast too, and smart too, and they can hit home runs too. It drove me crazy. I can’t even imagine how it feels for others and I promise to raise my boys differently and to work tirelessly to make it change. I’m so proud to have been born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. A city where diversity abounds.
I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher and lucky for me, it’s a profession dominated by women so I was able to “see” myself represented alongside my dream from the time I started Preschool. I wanted to be cool and fashionable like Mrs. Boyer. I wanted to be sassy and smart like Mrs. Werblin and I wanted to read books so they sounded like they were magic like Mr. Hagenbush would. I can’t help but to feel so much sadness for the others who weren’t able to “see” themselves and maybe let their dream go because of it. I’m certain they would have been amazing educators. I’m certain students need to see them right now as well. That breaks my heart. We are missing out.
Fast forward many years to when it was discovered that we were infertile after multiple pregnancy losses. We were going to have to undergo IVF if there was ever a chance for us to have a child. I’m so blessed that it happened during a time where I could find comfort in others who had also had loses and been infertile and who were represented in the world around us. Seeing myself helped alleviate the isolation I was feeling. Trust me, it was heart-wrenching, and if you’ve lived it, you know. But I don’t begrudge those who had traditional pregnancies so why do some begrudge us?
Why do so many care that others are demanding to be able to see themselves? What do you lose because of it? The answer is nothing. You lose nothing. And if you can’t reconcile that, then you’ll have to seek comfort in “seeing” yourself in other assholes around you. Sadly, you’ll be able to find plenty, especially right now.
It’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to require many to realize they are a part and not the whole, but I’m optimistic that we can do it. What an amazing transformation it will be. Boys like my oldest will be able to see other sensitive and openly emotional men around him. And they can both “see” other families where Mommy works outside of the house and Daddy works in it. Whoever you are can be the norm.
I wish Ruth knew that because of her this woman knows that her brain is a sexy thing and that she can be a wonderful and loving mom and be dedicated to her job too. I wish for all of you that you can continue to and if you can’t yet, that someday you WILL see yourself too. 💜