Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Real Big Deal

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, otherwise known as RBG, is the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993 and after the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor, retired, she was the only woman on the court for a while. In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and, in 1973, she became the ACLU’s general counsel.

The Women’s Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. All the while, RBG was a wife and mother. Within the first few years of this project, Ginsburg fought six cases of discrimination before the Supreme Court, and won five. She chose to focus not just on problems faced by women, but demonstrated that gender inequality was detrimental for both men and women. She took part in expanding the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to include women. She also argued for a widower with children who, when his wife passed, was unable to collect any benefits to help him support his dependents. She’s part of the reason that jury duty became mandatory for women as citizens of this nation, and why women in Oklahoma could legally drink at the same age as men. Continue reading “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Real Big Deal”

Child Custody and Family Dynamics

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By Cassie Greenwald

For women, having custody is not purely a straightforward matter of being able to raise children according to their own choices. There is a complicated relationship of dependence and independence interwoven into women’s rights. “Joint custody has the potential both to help women develop more independence and to aggravate the problematic aspects of dependency in women’s lives. Although joint custody was expected to help women, it has had mixed effects, benefiting some women, hurting others, and for still others, helping and hurting at the same time” (Bartlett and Sack, 2015). Custody often exacerbates complicated family dynamics for parents and their children. This article aims to explore the historical content of child custody as well as the current feminist view of family dynamics in a heterosexual context.

Historically, feminists in the nineteenth century fought to establish custody rights for mothers. It was not uncommon for courts to give fathers paramount rights of custody and control. At the very first women’s rights gathering in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848, the newly drafted Declaration of Rights and Sentiments presented custodial rights for mothers as one of the primary demands (Berkeley Law, 2015). Children were viewed as helping hands and the goal of early feminists was to consider the needs of the child. In 1843, a New York judge established common law tradition by awarding custody of a three-year-old sickly child to her mother. The judge explained that, “the law of nature has given to her an attachment for her infant offspring which no other relative will be likely to possess in an equal degree, and where no sufficient reasons exist for depriving her of the care and nurture of her child, it would not be a proper exercise of discretion in any court to violate the law of nature in this respect” (Berkeley Law, 2015). Women have long been considered to have natural instincts towards caregiving roles, and therefore should be awarded custody of their children. Continue reading “Child Custody and Family Dynamics”