On Jan. 19, I found myself marching in downtown Ventura in the third annual Women’s March.
Surrounded by signs and chants about freedom and rights, I felt part of the battle to which so many women before me have dedicated their lives. Marchers waved signs bearing the image of one woman in particular, who set the precedent for what we as women in the 21st century should expect in the eyes of the law. That woman is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
On Dec. 25, 2018, “On the Basis of Sex” premiered. This film shows the journey of young Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) and her personal battle with discrimination, first as a law school graduate in New York City, and then as the architect of legal challenge to sex discrimination, as she successfully argued the case of “Charles E. Moritz V. Commissioner of Internal Revenue” before the federal appellate court in Denver, Colorado.
Ginsburg went on from there to develop and argue many gender discrimination cases in the 1970s and 1980s, to attack all areas where the law treats people differently based on gender and to bring to the public eye the fact that gender-based discrimination is not only a problem for women, but for all people.
“On the Basis of Sex” joins documentary RBG released earlier this year and Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik’s book “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” in providing a detailed account of the life and legal career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today Ginsburg remains an active member of the Supreme Court and in the public eye as a leader of women’s rights. Whenever Ginsburg is asked when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, she always responds by saying, “When there are nine of us.”
I went to see this movie. Twice. All my life I have heard about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the powerhouse that she is. Over fall break, my parents took me to see an exhibit about her life at the Skirball Museum. I was in awe of her accomplishments and how she did it all purely on her own drive to succeed. I am a Jewish feminist, and it is empowering to see someone like me out in the world making real change. While the law is not my passion, I am inspired to apply the same confidence, determination and skill to whatever field of study I pursue.
In the beginning of the movie, a scene shows Ruth at Harvard running to get to her ill husband Marty’s law classes after attending her own. This scene really spoke to me because it showed how she let nothing stand in the way of achieving her goals — for herself and for her family. Watching this movie showed me the struggle she went through to connect with her children and her family life, while never losing momentum in fighting for a cause that she believes in (earning her the nickname Notorious RBG). More importantly, I see that it is possible to be a loving and nurturing parent while simultaneously being a dedicated and fierce career woman and a public figure working toward important changes in our society.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodies so many of the qualities I want to strive for as I chose my own path. She is a role model for me, and I was so excited to see her on posters at the Women’s March and understand how she has become a symbol of this movement.
Seeing RBG’s story through the Skirball exhibit, the documentary and the movie “On the Basis of Sex,” helped me understand what the battle for gender equality is all about and what we, as women, have won, and what we still need to fight for. For young women like me, coming of age during President Donald Trump’s administration and the #MeToo movement, RBG’s story is a wakeup call — a call to march. To march for the right to equal pay, to march for the right to make choices about our bodies and to march for equality in all aspects of the law.
I urge you to go out and watch “On the Basis of Sex” to understand the women’s movement better. Where we started, what we have accomplished and who led the way, and where we have yet to go.