Justice Amy Coney Barrett was recently nominated and confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. She is the fifth woman to serve on the court and the first and only mother of school-aged children. However, because she was nominated by a conservative president and is herself a conservative woman, she received a lot of pushback from feminists, despite the fact that she embodies everything they hold dear. Women on the left scoff when they hear the use of the words “conservative” and “feminist” in the same sentence. Justice Barrett embodies feminism and should be considered a role model to all women. Barrett is a reflection of the feminist fight, representing its true beliefs and platforms.
The direct definition of feminism is the advocacy for equality between the sexes in all aspects of life and under the law. This idea should be apolitical and usurp party lines. The 19th Amendment gives women throughout the country the power to vote — thus, women are equal and should be considered so under the law. By extension, the left should not shout down a woman simply because they do not agree with her political standings. Political beliefs and party affiliation should be separate from feminism.
A woman ascending to the highest court in the land should be revered, no matter her political affiliation. After all, that is exactly what feminism is supposed to represent — the equality of opportunity relative to male counterparts. Historically, the Supreme Court has been dominated by males. In fact, men comprised the entirety of the Supreme Court until 1981, when Sandra Day O'Connor — a conservative woman — was appointed. Still, men are far more likely to hold a judge position today, with women making up less than a third of appointed judges. However, Barrett is working to open this industry for women and break the glass ceiling in her profession by working in it herself. Barrett also worked as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, in a profession where women are vastly underrepresented.
Barrett represents a brand of feminism that many women personally align with, a brand of feminism where women can indeed have both a career and a family if they wish. Too often — under the guise of feminism — women are told that a career is more important than having a family. However, a woman’s decision to have a career or a family — or both — is a personal choice that no one else should dictate. In fact, many women see themselves having a family and many women also see themselves having a successful career. Barrett is the perfect example of a woman who can do both — she is both a mother to seven children and a wildly successful individual in her field. She is living proof that women can truly have the best of both worlds.
Yet, some on the left attack her over the fact that she is a mother — a hypocritical double standard. Some feminists on the left are tearing her down for having a career and for “not being a good mother.” These attacks go directly against one of the core advocacies of feminism — the ability to have both a career and a family. Today, women are still assumed to be less committed to their jobs if they have children at home, and many companies still participate in some form of pregnancy discrimination. Feminists have fought for equality in the workplace and will continue to do so. Women and men are both penalized in their career if they leave the workplace for a time to raise their children. Barrett was able to overcome all of that to achieve the highest position in her field.
Barrett working with her husband to create a home for her kids and have a successful career is yet another example of her feminism. She and her husband are on equal footing in their relationship and neither of their careers outshines the other. This dynamic — in which they have both taken the time to focus on raising their children — shows that her career isn’t any less valued than his.
Above all, feminists tout the ideal of autonomy — the concept that women should be able to freely choose their commitments, relationships, jobs and identities. That is exactly what Barrett has done. She has picked her own course — exactly what feminists claim to advocate.
Another woman on the Supreme Court is a good thing for all women. Less than 60 years ago, women were not even represented on the Supreme Court. Now, Barrett is the fifth woman to sit on the court. She has opened many doors for women in the legal field and beyond. Barrett hasn’t just shattered a glass ceiling for working women with school-aged children, she has pushed past a concrete wall. Regardless of political differences, feminists should be excited about another female justice. Barrett is a feminist, and one that everyone can be proud of.
Devan Coombes is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.