An open letter to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the SNL writers,

Last Saturday, SNL debuted a new catchphrase on Weekend Update: Ya Ginsburned! Kate McKinnon, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “ginsburned” everyone from Hobby Lobby to Madonna, as part of a sketch that recapped Justice Ginsburg’s recent dissent from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (where the Supreme Court decided that corporations with religious owners can’t be required to pay for contraception). 

Ginsburg is a last name that lends itself to ridicule. Ruth, I know you feel me on that. How much easier would life have been for you as an Addams? Or a Foster? Over the years I have been called Ginsburger, Burgermiester, Gay-insburg (middle school was rough), Ginny, Ginny-goo, Ginsby, and finally, Gins.

It’s a name that carries a lot of assumptions around with it – like “Oh you’re Jewish then?” and “So you’re German Jewish?” As with many other Ginsburgs, my name is a misnomer, a mistake made at Ellis Island – I’m not German, and I’m technically not even Jewish.

As a kid, I longed for a more conventional last name, like Smith or Williams – I know I’m not alone in that sad little wish. My mother’s maiden name is Texeira, which is a very common Portuguese last name. Unfortunately, she does not live in Portugal. She always wanted to change it because no one could say it correctly, no one could spell it correctly, and she was tired of being asked about her “Italian” heritage. She’s now a happily married Foster. In Korea, many people have changed their names from the traditional “Ee” to “Lee” because “Ee isn’t really a name, it confuses people.” Let’s be honest here — it confuses Americans, who are easily confused by anything that isn’t white bread. For better or worse, our identities are attached to our names, as Tom Haverford can attest.

So I have always appreciated you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You rose to the height of the judiciary in a world made for male WASPs, and you did it without pretending to be someone else. And now you’re Ginsburn-ing Hobby Lobby, your male counterparts, and their absurd decision which will basically deprive many women of birth control. You make me proud to be a Ginsburg, and I definitely wish you were my grandmother or great-aunt. I’d settle for second cousin. Seriously, you are fantastic.


To the SNL writers – thank you for thinking of such an awesome use for my name. People will be getting Ginsburned left and right. I can almost guarantee that if you guys print a “Ya Ginsburned!” shirt, I will be receiving five for my birthday. Thank you for giving a Supreme Court justice a catch phrase instead of doing another skit about adult babies (but I’ll be honest I laughed really hard at Baby Boss). Thank you, because it allowed me to write about these issues on a pop culture website.