This is not the first portrait I’ve done of RBG, but it’s the first one I’ve done of her as a young woman. As I researched my speech on Roe v. Wade today, I looked back to her time as a young lawyer working for the ACLU pre-Roe. While RBG was an advocate for a woman’s right to choose, she had been hoping at the time to bring a different case before the Supreme Court, one that would help base the right to terminate or keep a pregnancy on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, thus making equality for women the crux of reproductive rights. Of course, RBG also wanted women to have an Equal Rights Amendment, something we still need to fight for.
My research was interesting and in an unexpected way uplifting, despite the grimness of our times. Giving a talk before a group of very cool and inspiring women who had come together to support other women was uplifting too. I told them the most radical thing we could do is enjoy ourselves, enjoy being women, and make our own dreams and our own happiness a priority. In a society that has tried for centuries to push women into supporting roles, roles of nurturers, caretakers, incubators, being ourselves and cultivating joy is subversive indeed.