Behind Justice Ginsburg, a strong man

martin and ruth bader ginsburg
(AP Photo)

The obit headline reads: Martin D. Ginsburg dies at 78; tax law expert, Supreme Court spouse

It’s so rare to read the obituary of a man who is identified, right up there in the headline, as a spouse — the supportive partner of a woman who is much more well-known.

The foundation of their relationship, they both said, was mutual respect and equality — and a willingness to share domestic duties.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is rightfully recognized as a remarkable public advocate for women’s rights. But it seems she also had the great fortune to spend her private life with a man who lived by feminist principles.

[S]he recalled that Mr. Ginsburg, a gregarious varsity golf player, was “the only young man I dated who cared that I had a brain.”

Behind every great man, or so the old adage goes, is a woman. But even today, it’s tough to argue that the flip-side is consistently true. Even the most accomplished professional women often have a hard time achieving equality in the domestic sphere. They’re the ones who do the bulk of the child-care, keep the bathroom clean, and do the bulk of the cooking. That’s why these quotes from the Ginsburgs about their relationship are so, well, radical. Especially given the couple’s age.

Mr. Ginsburg said he was proud of his wife’s accomplishments and had no regrets about the compromises they made for each other.

“I have been supportive of my wife since the beginning of time, and she has been supportive of me,” Mr. Ginsburg told the Times in 1993. “It’s not sacrifice; it’s family.”

I eagerly await the day when relationships like the Ginsburgs’ don’t seem radical or surprisingly feminist, but are the default approach to domestic life. My condolences to Justice Ginsburg on the loss of her husband. It sounds like he was a wonderful man.

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6 Comments

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m different, but sharing responsibilities and an equal partnership just seems like common sense to me. :)

  2. dark_morgaine
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    My condolences to Justice Ginsburg.

  3. Toongrrl
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I hope Ruth is surrounded by those who love her during this hard time…what a great man

  4. jstein
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s fair to say that, in some cases, a bad man can keep a great woman from being recognized as such, but that’s another point altogether, I suppose.
    Martin Ginsburg was an interesting figure in his own right, but his marriage to a strong woman is the type of thing that I hope to find myself at some point.

  5. dark_morgaine
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    While we’re on the subject, not to thread-jack, but I heard that Senator Byrd died today too. I just hope and pray that the next generation brings men and women as strong as these into power to combat the nutjobs who would have us regress to pre-Civil Rights era subordination. I use the term “us” inclusively.

  6. FYouMudFlaps
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    This man should be a role model I believe. It is sad that his outlook and domestic setup stands out however.

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