What will we do with our inheritance?

Context is, as they say, everything.

A year or so ago, when I shared the following passage in these pages, the magnificent Julie Steelman was teaching some of us about financial sovereignty for women.

In this moment, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has taught, and fought for, so many of us through the years has passed on.

Here is some of what she was fighting against…

A man and wife are one person in law; the wife loses all her rights as a single woman, and her existence is entirely absorbed in that of her husband. He is civilly responsible for her acts, she lives under his protection or cover, and her condition is called coverture.

A woman’s body belongs to her husband; she is in his custody, and he can enforce his right by a writ of habeas corpus.

What was her personal property before marriage, such as money in hand, money at the bank, jewels, household goods, clothes, etc., becomes absolutely her husband’s, and he may assign or dispose of them at his pleasure whether he and his wife live together or not.

A wife’s chattels real (i.e., estates) become her husband’s.

Neither the Courts of Common law nor Equity have any direct power to oblige a man to support his wife…

The legal custody of children belongs to the father. During the life-time of a sane father, the mother has no rights over her children, except limited power over infants, and the father may take them from her and dispose of them as he sees fit.

A married woman cannot sue or be sued for contracts — nor can she enter into contracts except as an agent of her husband; that is to say, her word alone is not binding in law…

A husband and wife cannot be found guilty of conspiracy, as that offense cannot be committed unless there are two persons.

Now, a couple of questions.

What did you notice as you read? What did you wonder?

I’m betting that one of the things you’re wondering about is the source of this quote. I learned it from Carolyn Heilbrun’s magnificent book, Writing A Woman’s Life. The quote itself is from a pamphlet, Married Women and the Law by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon in the USA, 1854.

It’s true that many of us are in a different place, today.

But, just in case you think we haven’t quite made it to the world we’d like our granddaughters to grow up in… or our grandsons, for that matter… what, then, do we do?

I can only speak for myself.

Prayer dots and tears, for a start.

Petitions to the Senate. Several of them, already. Insisting that a nominee for Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat not be considered or confirmed until the national election is complete.

Working harder even than before for the candidates I trust.

It’s a challenge. I’m having a bit of an orthopedic adventure at the moment and delivering yard signs or knocking on doors or learning to be a poll worker aren’t really viable options for me. And we’re not exactly overflowing with spare cash in the moment.

But I have words. And a way to share the words of others. Kind of my own microscopic news organization. One that I, unlike some of the big kids, freely admit is biased. It’s biased toward the future we are creating in this moment. It’s biased toward upholding laws and norms my girls don’t even know once needed fighting for.

And I have fierce compassion. I’m giving it away. All you need or want, to put to work in your world.

Oh, and I have a painting I’m working on. Collaging names of my grandmothers. And a new grandmother. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. May her hopes and dreams for us and for all the generations to come be so.

Amen. Amen. Selah.

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach

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