As we all mourn the passing of one of our heroes, the beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it’s important to remember what she stood for, what she fought for, and how her loss could impact our work as sex coaches and sexologists.
RBG was a champion of women’s rights:
- The right to be paid equally
- The right to make reproductive choices for ourselves
- The right not to be forcibly sterilized
- The right to attend state-funded schools
- The right to financial independence and financial benefits
- The right to serve on juries
To RBG, discrimination on the basis of sex hurt men as well as women. Her focus was on dismantling gender discrimination wherever it reared its head.
She was also a force for good on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. She was a key part of several decisions that advanced freedom and equality for this group:
- The strikedown of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act
- The strikedown of gay marriage bans at the state level, which assured marriage equality throughout the country
- Support for LGBTQ+ protections in employment, housing, healthcare, and education – by finding that LGBTQ+ discrimination is a form of gender discrimination, and therefore subject to the same laws
RBG was the first Supreme Court justice to perform a same-sex wedding.
Unfortunately, her passing potentially may have a significant negative impact on women and LGBTQ+ people. The balance of power may shift if the Senate confirms Trump’s pick to replace her, and several key decisions could be overturned in a more conservative court.
Sex coaches need to be prepared for these possibilities so we can support and advocate for our clients and ourselves. We must fight to preserve her legacy and to ensure all people, regardless of gender, have equal rights, freedoms, and protections pertaining to body autonomy, gender equality, the right to make our own reproductive choices, and the right to marry whomever we love.
Here’s what Dr. Patti has to say about RBG’s work and her passing:
I need to add my voice here, as an elder in this field.
I began my work at Planned Parenthood of Vermont, later the affiliate for all of New England, in the 1970s. I was a Congressional Aide for Vermont’s famous lone U.S. Rep, James Jeffords, (the same one who defected as a Senator from the Republican party years later to become an Independent and shift the balance in Congress!). During that time the Religious Right (I called them the Religious Wrong all those years), were placing ads about the “Silent Scream” of fetuses being murdered through abortions. They were granting personhood to early stage fetuses. I was so enraged I signed up to volunteer for Planned Parenthood to do my part to protect our agency over our own bodies. That began a 45+ year career in sexology and I’ve never looked back.
At the same time, my own mother was a freedom fighter; she transported young women across state borders to help them obtain safe and legal abortions. Some of my female friends almost lost their lives to back alley butchers, nearly bleeding to death; and a friend from my college dorm nearly died from injecting lye into her vagina to terminate an unwanted pregnancy because legal and safe abortions were not available to her despite her family’s privilege and wealth.
We have come a very long way. I have fought all my life for a Woman’s Right to Choose. The shadow of RBG looms large and lasting unless her seat on the US Supreme Court is filled before the November Presidential Election. I will scream loudly now that we all must speak up and shout out to preserve our freedoms and to uphold our human sexual rights. As an Advisory Council member of WAS (World Association of Sexual Health), I am proud to represent an organization for all of us, one that promotes sexual health and sexual rights, just as IASHS once did with its Bill of Sexual Rights are Human Rights. Whether we do it or not, like it or not, we are advocates for sexual rights as long as we are a part of this profession.
We salute Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a brave pioneer, a warrior for freedom and equality. We honor her life and we thank her for everything she did for us. Let’s all do our part and fight to carry on the legacy that RBG was all about.