TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson tells:
A recent donation to the TRC reflects some very interesting social history. The object is a small gold plated necklace (TRC 2018.3367), sold on the internet by a group called Dissent Pins. It is a stylized version of a black and gold jabot (a detachable collar, usually of lace) worn by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court.
Appointed in 1993 Ginsburg was only the second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court. She joined Sandra Day O’Connor on the nine-member court. Both women realized they had a problem. "I didn't know anybody who made robes for women justices, and I think most of what was available was something like a choir robe or an academic robe," O’Connor said. She decided to wear a black robe that she had worn earlier as a judge.
She was criticized for looking like a “washed-out judge” and for not wearing some sort of judicial collar underneath the robe. "You know, the standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie," Ginsburg said. "So Sandra Day O'Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman. So I have many, many collars."
Justice Ginsburg now owns dozens of jabots that she wears with her robe. She is given them as gifts, such as the French lace jabot gifted by the University of Hawaii, decorated with beads from a beach; or the white tatted jabot made by an admirer, who proudly published Ginsburg’s thank-you on the Internet. Her favourite is a simple white beaded collar from Cape Town, South Africa.
The 83-year-old Justice, known for her strong feminist legal opinions, is also famous because her collars are not just accessories. When she is giving a majority opinion she wears a light yellow collar, given to her by her law clerks. Her ‘dissent collar’, when she takes a stand against the majority opinion, is a black and gold embellished jabot. She wore this to Court the day after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. This made her even more of a popular icon.
Her ‘dissent’ collar has been made into enamel pins and stickers, like that in the TRC collection; she’s been the subject of films, comedy skits and a rap song. Wearing a version of her black robe and lace collar is popular as a Halloween costume across the US, with its own Instagram account (#notoriousrbg).
Monday, 10 December 2018