As if this year could not get any worse, on September 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. I was in my living room with my roommates when all of our phones buzzed with notifications announcing the tragic passing of RBG. I’ll never forget the way we were all speechless for a moment and stared at one another with fear in our eyes. We spent the next hour or so talking about what had just happened and about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and the impact she made on not just the law but on the individual lives of so many women, ours included.
During our conversation, I realized that, while I knew who RBG was and some of the amazing things she had done throughout her career, I didn’t really know a lot about her and her past. The next night, one of my roommates and I sat in our living room and started the biopic, On the Basis of Sex, which is based on RBG’s life. The movie stars Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and it starts off when Ruth and her husband, Marty, are at Harvard Law School. The rest of the movie chronologically depicts Ruth’s life and career, and it stops and really focuses on the first few cases that she works on with the ACLU. The movie specifically focused on the case Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. On the Basis of Sex helps viewers gain a more comprehensive overview of all that RBG did to pave the way for the American people in regard to gender equality.
That really happened?!
Since I didn’t know a lot of details about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early life and career, there were a lot of things at the beginning of the movie that shocked me and had me asking “Did that really happen?” or “How could that have really happened?” For example, RBG was number one in her class in law school, yet she still couldn’t find a job in New York City with any law firm. But a lot of what the movie recounts did happen. Ruth really did attend her husband Marty’s classes while he was sick; She really did struggle to find a job as a lawyer in New York City even though she had graduated as number one in her class; And her husband did really look at her as his equal (and yes, he really did all the cooking).
A lot of these things that were actually true were shocking to me. Because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, if I graduated number one from my class in law school today I would not struggle as much as she did to find a job, and for that I, among many other women, am thankful. It was also shocking to me that Ruth went to not just her own, but also her husband’s law school classes at Harvard because he was sick. The pressure and amount of school work that one student has to juggle for themselves is usually too much. To know she juggled the classes of two law students is honestly amazing and something I don’t think I could ever do. On the Basis of Sex does a great job of pointing viewers to Google to find out “Did that really happen?!” In turn, that leads to learning even more about RBG and her life.
The impact On the Basis of Sex had on me
After watching On the Basis of Sex, I went down my own Google search rabbit hole and looked up so many facts about RBG and her life. Knowing she made the world a better place for other women with her work regarding gender equality, I felt pulled to learn more about this icon after her passing.
I ended up also watching the documentary RBG. During a part of this documentary, one of RBG’s granddaughters talked about how they called her ‘bubbe,’ which is the Yiddish word for grandmother and a very popular name for Jewish grandkids to call their grandmothers. I grew up calling my grandma bubbe and my grandfather Zadie, which means grandfather in Yiddish. It was refreshing and shocking to see that RBG was called bubbe also. Even though I knew RBG was Jewish, it’s not something I ever saw discussed when her name was in the news.
After watching On the Basis of Sex and the documentary RBG, I was inspired to see this Jewish woman that had accomplished so much in her field.
I am a Jewish woman that is currently studying for the LSAT, the exam to get into law school, and seeing how hard she fought to be successful invigorated me. RBG became an icon for a reason, and she will always be one to me and to countless other women around the world.
There is no better time to watch On the Basis of Sex and the documentary RBG. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an amazing lawyer, judge and person. By learning more about her through these films, I was able to begin to comprehend just how massive of an impact she had. Since first watching On the Basis of Sex last week, I have already seen it twice and could honestly watch it many more times. The acting in the movie is good and makes it impossible not to become invested in the story that they are telling on screen. But it is the story itself that is so inspiring and caused me to want to learn more about not just Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, but also about the cases and laws that were changed for the better because of her and her role in our country’s judicial system.