Anna Gragert
November 16, 2015 2:36 pm

Question: What do you get when you put Gloria Steinem and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a room for 1 hour and 30 minutes? Answer: you get the most beautiful snippets of wisdom.

For The New York Times, Steinem and Ginsburg met to discuss the obstacles they’ve faced as women, their friendship, and – oddly enough – rap names. Oh, and they held their discussion at a pretty cool location: Justice Ginsburg’s private chambers at the Supreme Court.

So, how do these two inspiring forces greet one another before they sit down for a chat? “The room went still when the women hugged,” writes Philip Galanes. “All of the staff, bustling in preparation just moments before, paused when Ruth Bader Ginsburg emerged quietly from her private chambers at the Supreme Court last month and embraced her old friend Gloria Steinem.” Now, that is one hug we want to be a part of.

While their conversation only lasted for 90 minutes, every word these two women spoke had an insightful weight to it. I mean, how could it not? Their names are most likely being bolded in history textbooks as we speak.

To read the very best moments from Justice Ginsburg and Steinem’s New York Times conversation, look no further:

Rap Names

To establish that we are indeed a part of the 21st-century, the two women started off on a light note by commenting on their rap names. “I like the way mine began,” Ginsburg stated, referring to her Notorious R.B.G alias. “A second-year law student at N.Y.U. was outraged by the court’s decision in the voting rights case. But instead of just venting her anger, she took up my dissent.”

When Steinem found out that her rap name is GlowStick, she unhesitatingly declared, “We may need to work on that.”

Parental Support and Pressure

“My mother was a powerful influence. She made me toe the line. If I didn’t have a perfect report card, she showed her disappointment,” revealed Ginsburg.

Steinem added, “Perhaps we were living out the unlived lives of our mothers. Mine wanted to be a writer and was a journalist long before I was born. First as a reporter, then an editor at a Toledo newspaper.”

While both Steinem and Justice Ginsburg are fighting for the same cause, they had completely different upbringings. In other words, these two formidable women have also endured their fair share of familial encouragement and, likewise, familial stress.

Rejection

For all you people out there who’ve felt the burn of rejection, you’re not alone. Gloria Steinem has, too. And so has Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“There were many firms who put up sign-up sheets that said, ‘Men Only.’ And I had three strikes against me,” says Ginsburg. “First, I was Jewish, and the Wall Street firms were just beginning to accept Jews. Then I was a woman. But the killer was my daughter Jane, who was 4 by then.”

Steinem experienced a similar type of dismissal. She asserted, “I tried to get a much less prestigious job, at Time magazine. And they made it very clear that women researched, and men wrote. No exceptions.”

Then, in an eloquent flourish of words, Steinem observed, “The great thing about obstacles is that they cause you to identify with other groups of people who are facing obstacles.”

Marriage

It’s no secret that women have traditionally felt pressured to get married, to connect their self-worth to a man who’s officially by their side. When asked if she was immune to this constraint, Steinem admitted, “Absolutely not. I assumed I had to get married. Everybody did. If you didn’t, you were crazy. But I kept putting it off: ‘I’m going to do it, but not right now.’ Until I was in my late 30s and the women’s movement came along, and I realized: I’m happy. Not everyone has to live the same way.”

As for Justice Ginsburg, her husband Marty served as her biggest supporter. “He was so secure in himself that he never regarded me as any kind of threat,” she said. That would explain why this couple decided to pursue the same profession.

Empathy

When it came time for the final question: “Any advice for getting along with people who disagree with us to the core?” Both women had amazing answers.

Steinem: “What we want in the future will only happen if we do it every day. So, kindness matters enormously. And empathy. Finding some point of connection.”

Ginsburg: “Sometimes not listening helps, too. Do you know about this opera ‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ by a talented musician who went to law school? Scalia’s opening aria is: ‘The Justices are blind. How can they possibly spout this? The Constitution says nothing about this.’ And I answer: ‘You are searching in vain for a bright-line solution for a problem that isn’t so easy to solve. But the beautiful thing about our Constitution is that, like our society, it can evolve.”’

The Takeaway

Learn from your parents, your ancestors, your guardians.

Do not let rejection dim your light.

Marriage isn’t for everyone. And that’s perfectly okay.

Empathy heals.

Rap names: embrace them or change them. It’s up to you.

[Image via Twitter]

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