On The Basis of Sex inspires young and old alike

Caroline O'Shaugnessy, asst. a&e editor

“I ask no favors for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” On Christmas day, a film titled On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer took to the theaters. This movie is about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the first women to sit on the United States Supreme Court. The film focuses on her miraculous journey to the top of her class in law school and later to a seat on the Supreme Court.

The film begins at Harvard Law, where Ruth sets out as one of nine women in her class of hundreds. Throughout her education, Ruth is consistently patronized because of her gender. While raising her children, caring for her home,  assisting in her husband, Marty’s, cancer treatment, and attending classes for both herself and her husband, Ruth still finishes at the top of her class.

Her journey then takes her to Columbia Law to complete her education as Marty, newly recovered, looks for work in New York. Ruth begins her job search and is denied employment by multiple law firms for reasons such as “women are too emotional to be lawyers,” or “we already have one woman, why would we need two of them?”

Discouraged, Ruth turns to her Plan B: teaching. After Ruth is denied an opportunity to follow her dream, she takes a position at Rutgers University as a professor. While Ruth is a dedicated teacher, she feels unfulfilled, as her dream is to be in the courts fighting for women’s rights.

One night, everything changes when Marty comes across the case that will alter their lives forever: the case of Charles Moritz. Moritz’s case is special because the premise of his case was unlawful gender discrimination. Against a man. This was unheard of, as during this time men were put on pedestals, and most were in denial that gender discrimination even existed. Charles Moritz was denied financial aid because he was a man, not a woman. It is this simple fact that the Ginsburgs take and run with.

After months of preparation and countless obstacles, Marty and Ruth Ginsburg bring Moritz’s case to court. Battling a male jury with little comprehension of the concept of sex-based discrimination, Ruth has her work cut out for her. Ruth is clearly nervous. Stumbling over her words, she is ready to forfeit her remaining time to her husband for defense. But suddenly something sparks inside of her after an especially sexist comment from the opposing side. Ruth stands up, with the undivided attention of everyone in the room, and delivers  a moving statement about the prevalence of sex-based discrimination in America, tying it all back to the case of Charles Moritz.

In November 1972, the court ruled for Mortiz. Ruth had won. This was a monumental victory for not only Ruth, but also for the demolition of sex-based discrimination and the women’s movement. People were slowly becoming aware of the five-foot-one female powerhouse: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And it was about time.

On June 14, 1993, Ruth was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. She was confirmed with a 93 to 6 vote; people knew she was a force to be reckoned with. Ginsburg is now in her 26th year on the Supreme Court, surviving several bouts of cancer and numerous other ailments. At age 85, Ruth is still fighting every day for her fellow women on the most important bench in the world.

On the Basis of Sex gave me a new perspective of my role in society as a woman. Just a few decades ago, women were essentially powerless in society, being typecast into nursing positions or school teachers— women aspiring for more were laughed at and urged to “remember their place” in society. But, why was that a woman’s place? Women are just as capable as their male counterparts, but for so long have been treated as so much less.

This movie made me grateful. It made me grateful to be born in 2002, when little girls can grow up in an environment where they can land on the moon or save someone’s life in surgery. It made me grateful to follow powerful, brave, unrelenting women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg that dedicated their lives so that the women after them would be able to live their lives without limitations.

Everyone should go see this movie because, while in 2019 things are immeasurably better for women, there are still faults in our system and society. People should see this movie so they can be aware of the women that came before them and to serve as a reminder that one cannot take societal injustice sitting down. This movie will remind people to unapologetically fight for what they believe in. People should watch this movie because one must remember that we are all equals, and as the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”