CNN thinks Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sending a powerful message to the identity-politics oppressed peoples of America — with her collars.
Yup, the elderly octogenarian, according to CNN’s Rhonda Garelick who breathlessly describes Ginsburg as a “force of nature,” is stealthily using various collars to express her approval or disenchantment regarding various issues. Garelick cheers Ginsburg’s “dainty lace collar” as “the next pink pussy hat.”
Opining that Ginsburg “has devoted herself to helping others do the same: advocating for those society tends to overlook, those ‘disappeared’ by the blindness of prejudice or sexism,” Garelick adds that Ginsburg has amassed an “entire wardrobe of collars, collected from around the world, in a wide array of styles ranging from simple half-circles of fabric or lace to elaborately beaded and jeweled affairs … these collars constitute a communication system, a kind of fashion semaphore.”
Garelick posits that Ginsburg has her favorite "majority" collar as well as her "dissenting" collar, which she wore to President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Garelick then ventures into feminist claptrap, writing that the traditional black judicial robe “inhabits a realm quite far away from both femininity and fashion … When worn by a group, such as the nine Court justices, the robe merges distinct persons into a single entity consisting of seemingly disembodied heads, suggesting pure, abstracted intellect -- minds detached from bodies that have been 'disappeared'. But those disappeared bodies were always expected to be male. The judicial robe -- a pared-down version of British court versions --was created for men.”
It gets worse:
And traditionally, men do not “wear” their bodies the way women do; we do not focus on male physicality (at least straight, white, male physicality) as we do women's. According to the classic dichotomy found in many religious and philosophical traditions, men are figured as "mind" or "spirit," while women represent the baser realms of "body" and "flesh."
Ginsburg's collars forestall such presumptions. By drawing attention to the specific person beneath the robe, they disrupt the amorphous collectivity of nine black-clad jurists. Her collars re-inject the concept of "body" into the dis-embodying judicial robe, signaling not only the presence of a woman, but by extension, the presence of a biological human body -- which demands acknowledgment and consideration.
To re-establish the body within the robe is a progressive political statement: Theoretical (and visual) bodiless-ness is a privilege available only to those whose bodies do not hinder them. Those with the most "noticeable" bodies (including women, gay people, the disabled, transgender people and people of color) are always, paradoxically, at greater risk of not being noticed by the law -- susceptible to having their needs overlooked (needs for reproductive rights, gender and marriage equality, or racial justice, for example).
On other women, frilly adornments -- bows, ruffles, lace, ribbons -- hardly suggest righteous power. This remains a problem -- the decorative suggests the less central, the less important, a side embellishment. Perhaps then it would be liberating to read Ginsburg's frilliness as irony, as permission (or as an invitation) to reclaim femininity in fashion for its subtle, surprisingly undermining power. Now might be the right time to proclaim the dainty lace collar the next pink pussy hat.