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Ice Cream Activism

Last week, I wrote a post calling for Ruth Bader Ginger ice cream. The post was inspired by Amanda McCall's "10 delicious solutions to Ben & Jerry's women problem," which included suggestions for ice cream flavors honoring a variety of women, from S'moria Steinem to Chocolate Chip Cookie Doughprah Winfrey.

An imagined ice cream flavor named after Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Courtesy of Amanda McCall hide caption

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Courtesy of Amanda McCall

An imagined ice cream flavor named after Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Courtesy of Amanda McCall

My post was really a discussion of when — and why — female underrepresentation can so easily go unnoticed, requiring a stunt like McCall's for most of us to pay attention. But since writing that post, the call for Ruth Bader Ginger has taken on a life of its own. To use a technical term, it has become "a thing."

Shortly after my post, there were two important developments: Amanda McCall created Ruth Bader Ginger in full visual splendor; and Yael Mazor-Garfinkle, who works in marketing in the Boston area, started a petition on change.org to create Ruth Bader Ginger ice cream. Mazor-Garfinkle explains:

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my personal hero... not only is she an accomplished legal scholar, she's also become a cultural icon for young women like me; my friends and I — and lot of people on the internet — lovingly refer to her as 'the Notorious RBG.'

"I think it's important to recognize women heroes everywhere we can. So when I read that only two of Ben & Jerry's honorary flavors over the past three decades have featured women, I started this petition asking the ice cream company to honor Justice Ginsburg with her own flavor: Ruth Bader Ginger."

Of course, the call for Ruth Bader Ginger hasn't been without controversy. Robyn Pennacchia, a writer for The Frisky, agrees that "we definitely need Ruth Bader Ginger ice cream in our lives," but questions the details: Maybe a Nutella swirl would be more appropriate? (Would that make it The Nut-orious RGB ice cream?) And my husband insists that Ruth Bader Gingersnap is the better flavor name.

Ice cream activism turns out to have a longer history than I realized. Sonia Weiser at Mental Floss found five fan-made petitions for Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors at Change.org, including Mint Romney and Carbonite Crunch. None, alas, have made it to production, but with over 850 signatories as of this weekend, Ruth Bader Ginger has garnered the most support.

Will this be enough to prod Ben & Jerry's to action?

I contacted them last week for comment. No word so far. But, in the meantime, you can support Mazor-Garfinkle's petition here.


Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo.