I found this pin in a bowling alley parking lot when I was about ten. This was in my hometown in central Florida. It was covered in grit. I was walking from my grandmother’s house to a nearby gift shop that had a wall of books. I may have had a few dollars to spend on a paperback.
My thought process regarding the message on the pin was something along the lines of, “Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?” And also the intrinsic understanding that this was not reality. I was young, but I’d had a good view to how world treated my mother. My mother with her sharp mind and brilliant talent was often ignored, dismissed, and patronized. I certainly witnessed her pain and rage at systems and beliefs that kept insisting she be a woman in a very particular way. There was only one acceptable way.
A grown woman said to me, a child, “If your mother loved you, she wouldn’t have left your father.” You see, my mom asked for the divorce. It was the 70s.
One teacher asked me if my mom was crazy. Another said my mother must’ve not wanted me. Another thought my mom was dead. It was weird to be a child raised by a single dad and inconceivable that my mom could be a good mom and live her life. They couldn’t imagine it.
In any event, I kept the pin. (I don’t actually know why it has that Pi symbol and what looks like something from Star Trek–math and science, perhaps?)
Decades later, after all the things I have lost over the years, the pin is still with me. And tonight I’m thinking of all the arguments I’ve had with people over the years regarding women and the simple notion of equality. I grew up with the idea that America was the land of equality and so it seemed straightforward enough. Allow the rights you wish for yourself to others.
Obviously, things haven’t been working this way, and that would take a much longer post.
Suffice it to say, I’m thinking about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who made a difference in the world and lived her life the way she wanted. And her place was a place of power. A woman’s place is every place.
May your memory be a source of strength, Justice Ginsburg. I know it will be.
Thanks for reading.