Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting her own museum exhibit and no one is more deserving
While the fiasco around who will lead the executive branch over the next four years continues to rage on, here’s some exciting news regarding the judicial branch: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting her own museum exhibit at Los Angeles’ Skirball Cultural Center. For all the serious work she’s done for women’s rights and the groundbreaking, landmark decisions she’s contributed to on the Supreme Court, the Notorious RBG (also known as the lord and savior of all of our uteruses) has also been hailed a beloved internet meme, and the exhibit will be focusing on this side of her.
The exhibit will appropriately be named “Notorious RBG,” an affectionate nickname granted to Ginsburg by her legions of fans for her famed formidability and acumen in arguing crucial women’s rights cases, and will highlight all kinds of illustrations ranging from tattoo art to internet memes to highlight the extent of Ginsburg’s cultural influence. The exhibit has been described by the museum as “experimental” art.
Notorious RBG was reportedly inspired by a Tumblr account of photos from Ginsburg’s life as well as photos of fans and fan-made T-shirts and memes. The Tumblr inspired a best-selling, critically acclaimed cultural biography of Ginsburg which, according to its summary, examines her journey from “feminist pioneer” to the inspiration for countless tattoos, music lyrics, and viral memes.
Ginsburg responded to Skirball Cultural Center’s curator, Cate Thurston, with a letter claiming Ginsburg “heard many good things about the Skirball and would be pleased to see Notorious RBG adapted into an exhibition.” Frankly, it’s anyone’s guess whether at 83 years old she has any idea what a meme is, but that makes her enthusiasm for the exhibit all the more endearing. The authors of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg also praised Skirball, claiming the museum’s “civically minded” culture made it the ideal place for a Notorious RBG exhibit, The Huffington Post reports.
Ginsburg might rank among the internet’s most beloved personalities, and the exhibit will feature this aspect of her legacy, but it’s also important to note her powerful legacy on voting rights, racial justice, gendered discrimination, and, most famously, reproductive rights.
From her 1993 Senate confirmation hearing, Ginsburg unapologetically made clear her stance on abortion at a time when the issue was even more controversial than it is today and in spite of all that she had to risk by fully, passionately disclosing her views. “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsible for her own choices,” Ginsburg said at the time.
To top it all off, Ginsburg offered the perfect explanation of the gender equality movement in 2012:
“I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, ‘Free to be You and Me.’ Free to be, if you were a girl—doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s okay too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers.”
Ginsburg’s record in the Supreme Court certainly puts her money where her mouth is when it comes to feminism, most recently through her impactful opinion on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which she fought the paternalistic myth of abortion being dangerous and emphasized how access to abortion is as critical as the right to having one.
That being said, here’s just a few of the best art and memes inspired by Ginsburg to get a feel for what the exhibit will likely offer:
Throw your hands in the air
TRAP law queen
“Fight for the things you care about”
“She is being treated as less than a full adult human”
Playing the woman card
“It’s not in our constitution”
Ginsburg has a killer legacy worthy of the Notorious RBG label, and what better way for the millennials who worship her to celebrate that legacy than through an exhibit of Notorious RBG memes?