The Notorious RBG


Griffin Kelley, Opinion Writer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton during 1993, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme of the United States of America and the topic of a new Hollywood film On The Basis Of Sex. Ginsburg starts as one of only a few women in a Harvard law class consisting mostly of white men. The Dean invites all nine women to a dinner where they are left in shock after being asked, point blank, why they’re “occupying a place at Harvard that could have gone to a man.” The question clearly catches the group of women off-guard as a question they had not considered. The group all answer with short and simple responses not mentioning how every one of them had earned the right to be in Harvard Law School.

Following the dinner, Ruth’s husband, Marty, has a brief health scare involving cancer. During Marty’s recovery, Ruth takes the responsibility of attending all of her husbands classes as well as her own. Ginsburg ends up completing law school at Columbia due to Marty finding a job in New York. Despite her prestigious educational history, Ruth is unable to find employment with any New York Firm, not possessing the same advantage as her husband of being male. Rejected by over a dozen firms, Ginsburg turns to becoming a professor and results in teaching a diverse group of students. During her professorship, Ruth is challenged by both her students and her now teenage daughter who is empowered by the popularizing feminist movement sweeping the country to take action against sex-based discrimination.

A reoccuring theme that can be noticed throughout the film is the odd for the time undying support Ruth receives from her husband Marty. Considering the time period this movie takes place, it was extremely rare to find a woman employed in as illustrious of a field as law. It was even more unusual to find a husband that would support his wife as much as Marty does. Marty, being a tax lawyer, begins to take increasing interest in Ruth’s project. He is able to pinpoint the perfect case involving a caregiver who is denied a deduction available to others because he is a man. It incorporates both a tax aspect of law which Marty is able to cover while also addressing a discriminatory law against males that Ruth dissects.

After gathering a considerable amount of information on the subject, Ruth invites some of her colleagues to have practice trials. After multiple reruns, Ginsburg’s friends believe Marty should be the one to present the entire case. Ruth considers this her case and her chance to prove her skills as a lawyer and Marty is determined to do what Ruth wants. The group comes to a consensus that Marty will begin by displaying the tax portion of the case and after Ruth will step into connect sex based discrimination. Ginsburg is portrayed as overconfident and inexperienced toward the opening of the trial and easily shaken up. When the case seems as though it is too far gone for Ruth to convince the court, she rises to the challenge and regains control over the trial. This case was the start of an incredible career by an incredible woman.  

While women’s equality has come a long way in consideration of employment, it has yet to become completely equal. Women can now be seen moving into positions previously occupied by men and the United States has a record number of women serving in congress. In fact, women now make up 40% of the global formal labour force. Despite these encouraging employment numbers, an International Labour Study of 83 countries showed that women earn 10-30% less than men. Even in the US women working full-time jobs earned only 77% of the male wage. It’s fair to say the fight for women’s equality has made considerable strides toward their goal, but have to remain fighting for the equality and justice they deserve.