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Notorious RBG and the Cool Factor

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s intellectual formation was built upon two lies of radical feminism that have doggedly enslaved our culture.

People in Washington stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sept. 18, 2020. Ginsburg died due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. She was 87. (CNS photo/Al Drago, Reuters)

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has filled our social media feeds with images of the iconic Supreme Court Justice. Scrolling through her photos was a reminder that no one has worn black robes with such style and savvy. The second woman to be a Supreme Court justice exuded a sense of quiet confidence, deep intelligence, and an unmistakable panache.

Her pithy quotes included many wise notions:

So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.

Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.

I just read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book. She talked about ‘we don’t have it all.’ Who does? I’ve had it all in the course of my life, but at different times.

She was the picture of refinement and style, with a bio-pic that left most of the audience thinking “every young woman needs to see this film.” Surely she was a woman that every woman should get behind and emulate.

But what if there was a crack in RBG’s thought? What if, despite all the trappings, she missed something fundamental?

What if she wasn’t always able to thinking independently, but was also caught up in the vortex of radical feminist ideas that dominate our culture?

One of the more popular RBG memes invoked her mother’s sage advice, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

By her own standards, that is, to be your own person and to be independent, it is astounding how lockstep she was with the feminist movement. Her ideas on abortion mimic those of the majority of women in mainstream media, Hollywood, the fashion industry, and politics. She parrots the same ideas touted for the last 50 years as “good for women,” even though every metric available to us—depression, suicide rates, substance abuse, divorce, and more —show that American women are less happy now than they have been before.

RBG’s intellectual formation was built upon two lies of radical feminism that have doggedly enslaved our culture. The first is that, in order for women to be equal, they must be exactly like men, while men must become more like women. And the second is that our children are an obstacle to our equality and, therefore, our success and happiness.

These ideas permeate many of her quotations:

[Abortion] is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.

If you impose restraints that impede her choice, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex.

Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that changed their abortion laws before Roe are not going to change back. So we have a policy that only affects poor women, and it can never be otherwise.

Based on the agreed upon pattern of collective thought prevalent since the late 1960s, there are several things we can expect to see in the coming weeks if another woman is nominated to take RBG’s SCOTUS seat. There will be a careful crafting of how this woman is not an independent thinker, that she is the wrong kind of woman. She will be likened to a doormat, clearly compromised by the patriarchy. She is the kind of woman who will only lead women down the wrong road, back to the middle ages and into fertility cults. It is her ilk that will usher in a real-life version of the Handmaid’s Tale, a caricature sketched out like a trap for women to immediately associate pro-life women with.

Hidden from the vast majority of western women by the elites are the truly independent thinkers, women like the uncelebrated Harvard Law professor and former ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon. If she, too, were pro-abortion, the elegant Ambassador Glendon would be a household name. She offers a glimpse into authentic independent thought that actually support all women, including the poor:

All who are genuinely committed to the advancement of women can and must offer a woman or a girl who is pregnant, frightened and alone a better alternative than the destruction of her own unborn child.

Social historians of the future no doubt will be amused by the fact that we late-twentieth-century Americans found it acceptable to discuss publicly in detail the most intimate aspects of personal life, while maintaining an almost prudish reserve concerning the political significance of family life.

To earlier feminists who had fought for the vote and for fair treatment in the workplace, it had seemed obvious that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women.

These are ideas that receive little airtime or exposure in mainstream channels. These are truly independent ideas, ideas that will never be celebrated by our lockstep, elite “independent” women.

Unfortunately, Ambassador Glendon isn’t a potential candidate for SCOTUS, but there are women like her, who truly have independent minds, who haven’t been featured in Vanity Fair and Vogue because they wouldn’t buy into the party line.

Should the President nominate one of these women, expect the press to portray her as humorless, intellectually dull, and beholden to the patriarchy. Fear mongering will abound, while the social science behind the reality that women who embrace the values of family, husband, children, and an openness to life are the most happy women on the planet.

Ours is a culture blinded by bling, celebrity, and the savvy. The likes of pearls, chunky earrings, and iconic glasses adorned over the black robes of a Supreme are a lot cooler than truly independent ideas. Sadly, this grip will be with us, no matter who replaces RBG. In the same way that pro-lifers will always be out-numbered on The View, or how they rarely become household names (unless they are villainized like Phyllis Schlafly), the elites manage who is cool and who isn’t.

Without the cool factor attributed to those who agree with elite women, true freedom of thought, informed by faith and reason, will only be categorized in the court of public opinion as a step backward for humanity and a crisis for women.

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About Carrie Gress, Ph.D. 54 Articles
Carrie Gress has a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America. She is the editor at the Catholic Women's online magazine Theology of Home. She is the author of several books including The Anti-Mary Exposed, Theology of Home, and . Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking. Visit her online at


  1. A commentary that tells it as it is. “The first is that, in order for women to be equal, they must be exactly like men, while men must become more like women”. This first lie has permeated our culture for some time, and if it made some women feel exalted it’s left a wake of destroyed marriages, dead infants [victims of the second lie], and pathetic men. But it’s men that fed into the lie that distorts the natural order. If Amy Barrett succeeds to the highest court her mission will be the pursuit of legal Justice, and as vital, an exemplar for all, the self deceived included to fathom what a woman of faith, reason, and strength is.

  2. In one of his wiser moments, Bertrand Russell observed that symptomatic of a culture in decline is the advancement as leaders of those who will hasten that decline. The predictable secularist chorus of adulation for Ruth Bader Ginsberg seems to me to be a salient case in point.

  3. Honest and clear. Yes unfortunately we pro life women are told we’re not women enough for this world. Thankfully this world is not the end all be all and those of us who stand faithful will receive the love and acceptance we seek in heaven. The only opinion of me that truly matters is my heavenly father’s. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    • Our Savior told us if the world hated Him it would hate us also. One of my latest indictments of conscience has been realizing the sin if human respect. The inordinate desire to gain human approval. I read one line about St John the Baptist. Herod didn’t demand he deny Christ but merely to shut up about him. BAM!
      That’s what the world demands right before it demands denial.

  4. Thank you for this thoughtful and illuminating article. I am hoping that many men and women will read it, have their eyes opened to the truth that the now ‘Saint RBG” was right about some things, wrong about some vitally important things and has now faced her — and our — Supreme Justice. It is that Eternal Truth which matters most.

  5. This can never be repeated enough: Women are much more unhappy these days than they used to be. RBG and her feminism has resulted in terribly unhappy women. It has resulted in the near destruction of the family. Marriages are now temporary arrangements. Women have to realize that their husbands spend all day long with many women now – at work. Many are more beautiful, they have things in common, etc. It is a recipe made in hell. All the studies show depression has grown enormously. There are many more women living alone, with their tiny little annoying dogs. Women now treat their dogs as their “children”. Many more women die alone, with no one to even care when they are sick and dying. Feminism is a particularly potent poison, a misguided bizarre attempt to escape reality. I remember reading that many famous feminists were terribly troubled people in real life, with psychological problems of some sort. I don’t doubt it. Not realizing what happiness is and how to attain it, they wanted everyone to be as miserable as they were, with no family. What a waste of fifty years.

    • As someone with a smallish, annoying dog I take exception to your remarks.
      But I take more exception to being referred to as a dog-mom by the vet. If my dog’s my son then what does that make me? (It rhymes with witch.)
      No thanks.

      • LOL. I got rat grandkids! Illegitamate ones, I might add. They are pretty cute really, and make for some good IG vids. Very thankful they did not have to come here during the Covid lock down, though.

          • Yeah. Grandrats. As I recall, the grandcats made their way into my father’s obit.
            First Century Rome, all over again.

        • Actual furry rats with tails? Goodness.
          I had a tame pet rat as a child. They’re extremely intelligent. I guess they’d have to be to be such successful survivors. In an apocalypse you can always count on the rats surviving. Maybe coyotes also.

          • Yeah, real rats–fur, bare tails, and the whiskers! The Lord did not scimp on those. One rat has more that my two cats combined.
            The only “daughter” I will ever be graced with (here on earth) is the four-legged variety (or the in-law variety), so if my vet calls me Mommy, I’ll take it. (She did undergrad at Franciscan during Fr Scanlon’s time interestingly enough).
            I do, however, see your point about the b-word. Just make sure you are the Alpha.

  6. I suppose I was taught this back in parochial schools in the 1930s that women should be kept on a pedestal while realizing they were generally smarter than men. I know that my Wife was a professional who waited for our five children to reach higher grades before returning to her state-licensed profession. She made more than her journeyman, news reporting husband, which was never a marital issue. Her memory is RAM while his is less than computer-like. Personal experience tells me RBG was an admirable woman in many ways, but she lacked maternal savvy.

  7. There is no such thing as totally independent thought. Our religious and moral beliefs are mandated by God through His Church and secular ones are almost always derivatives from or a repetition of what others have said/written before us.

  8. Women who ‘embrace family’ are privileged twits who are either so rich they have never experienced limits in their lives — see Phyllis Schlafly, a married-rich harridan who devoted her entire life to making sure no other women ever enjoyed the pleasures she did — or they’re completely brainwashed. The rest of us are grateful that we don’t have to just endure the beatings, screaming, or silent contempt of husbands just to eat and live indoors. If women are ‘less happy’ not it’s ONLY because we can admit it and seek to change it. The author, all conservatives, and the Catholic Church want us to return to being silent slaves.

    • Why, yes, Karen (seriously, is that your name? Or your title?), you seem like such a cheerful, pleasant person, so full of contentment and happiness that people ought to follow your advice on how to live a good life.

      Your gross misrepresentation of what family life is like, and spite-filled (probably envy-filled, too) contempt for it display clearly who the brainwashed one is. Please convey my sympathy to your husband and children (if you have either), poor things.

    • Neither the Catholic Church nor, I, as a man, speaking for myself, are in favor of women being abused. Being secular, even atheist, is no assurance that a man will not abuse his wife. If women are to be truly free, they should be able to choose to be married and have children, if that is what they want. It is understandable that women, or men who have suffered from abuse in childhood, would elect to not marry. However, to turn personal grievance into a blanket and prohibition, backed up by the political system, is also unfair and counterproductive.

  9. Had RBG been a conservative she would have called an ideologue by the media. Being hard left, she is regarded as a sort of secular saint. Truth be told, deep thinking was not required for her opinions on the court. She has simply to set the direction of the rudder on her ship and go autopilot.

  10. Think, MrsCracker, think! Pray. Then sit in the dark, in silence and listen. Then pray again. You will be the better for it. It’s your life, not the society’s or the prevailing ideas of the political left. It’s yours! Make something of it with God as its center! Your transformation will take a while. You are far gone but not gone!

    • Jeff Bishop,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I absolutely agree and was just reading a meditation about seeking stillness and silence from the world’s noise before entering church. All that commotion is still ringing in our ears when we try to listen and be in the presence of God.
      Our lives don’t really belong to us though but to our Creator. But I hear what you are saying. God bless!

    • Jeff, are you sure you’re addressing the right person? I have seen no evidence that she is “far gone;” her posts are all charitable and patient and Christian, and her faith is admirable.

  11. “The elites manage who is cool and who isn’t”. Speaks volumes. Reminds me of pre adolescent and adolescent girls in junior high school and high school. Who decided who was and who was not cool? Why, the cool kids! And who appointed them the cool kids? Why, they did, of course! I never understood the concept. Still don’t. It’s still as mysterious and ridiculous now as it was then, except the self-appointed cool kids are on The View, apparently. Does anyone think that’s as ridiculous as I do?

  12. RBG as quoted here: “There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious…” So, only a “woman of means” has value; that is, a woman like her… Elitism exposed. You know, statistically speaking, we can’t all be elites. After getting my master’s degree and breaking into a man’s work field, the most joyful thing I ever did (by far!) is to be a homeschooling mom. Or does she mean we have to be “women of means” in order to get away from abusive men when we need to? A philosophy of life based on fear and mistrust… A flawed anthropology, using the exception to set the norm, which doesn’t offer a sustainable foundation for community. A quote from Mary Ann Glendon:. “To earlier feminists… it seemed obvious that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women.” Not a very optimistic anthropology either, but this one is more realistic. Gress notes the 2 lies of radical feminism, giving us a case in point of “you can fool some of the people all of the time.” The rest of us figured it out over the last several decades.

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