Whether it’s her witty and outspoken quotes, rousing portrayals of her no-nonsense persona by Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live, or her meme fame as the Notorious RBG, perhaps more than any justice in Supreme Court history Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a revered American icon with a degree of cultural adulation usually reserved for rock stars.
After 250 years the nation has at last reached a point when a woman can win the most votes for president and SCOTUS legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg reigns Supreme. Women’s voices coast to coast are getting stronger and changes are rapidly happening, as we turn the tide in the fight for equal rights. It’s a goal we’ve always dreamed of achieving, and we certainly have a way left to go, but women like Ginsberg stand at the forefront to remind us how very far we’ve come.
Ginsburg is the subject of a new documentary, RBG, from filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen. It’s a must watch — thoroughly informative and absolutely riveting.
I haven’t yet read Ginsburg’s 2016 My Own Words, but watching RBG made me want to go out and learn more about this woman who has spent her life fighting for gender equality and defying decades of sexism to rise to the highest seat in the American judicial system.
RBG charts Ginsburg’s childhood as the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Brooklyn. Just before she was due to graduate from high school, her mother died. Following her undergraduate work at Cornell, she went on to study law at Harvard and broke barriers at Columbia, becoming one of nine women in a male-dominated school and her class of over 500 men.
While at Harvard in 1955, Ginsburg married and gave birth to a daughter. She cared for her newborn child and her husband who had fallen sick with testicular cancer, finding time to study at night until the early hours. Though she graduated tied for first in her class at Columbia, Ginsburg met with further barriers as she sought to make a career in the legal world.
The rejection didn’t stop her, it only strengthened her and redirected her determination to do it her own way, as professor of “Gender and Law” at Rutgers
As Cohen and West chart the obstacles that Ginsburg faced and overcame, it lays down the foundation for the huge undertaking this singular woman dedicated herself to pursuing. She gained renown arguing before the Supreme Court cases about racial discrimination and gender inequality, bringing attention to preposterous, unjust laws many states had pertaining to mortgages, education (United States v. Virginia, 1996) and equal pay (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, 2007).
She spearheaded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU and continued in her efforts to challenge discrimination at a time when the women’s rights movement was becoming a burgeoning force.
Accomplishment after accomplishment is charted throughout RBG and if you haven’t heard her story before, this film will enthrall and educate.
Intertwined with her remarkable achievements and her ascension to the Supreme Court, we learn about her personal life with husband Marty, her daily routine, and stringent gym regimen. The filmmakers follow her TV debut as she is featured on Saturday Night Live for the first time. It’s an especially charming moment to see her smile while watching McKinnon impersonate her. Likewise the pleasure she takes in nights at the opera, another of her deep abiding passions.
Cohen and West deliver us a delightful watch, a film as motivating as it is inspirational. Serving up fascinating fact after fact after fact of a true hero, delving deeper into details that we knew and revealing more that we might never have known about. The arc of her life reminds us that the fight still continues, and how lucky we are that there are women like Ginsburg who fought long before us and continue to fight to this day.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is iconic for a reason, a real-life superhero who puts lace on her “Cape” as she notoriously and fearlessly dissents on some of today’s most important court cases, always protecting us and our freedom. She.Is.Female. Her brand is RBG and even if you thought you already had an appreciation for her life and life’s work, this film will serve to make you love her even more — a documentary that needs to be seen by American’s youth as a lesson in integrity and stalwart resilience. Whenever she attends public events and panels, the crowds range all the way from teenagers to elder peers her own age. She is an icon for this generation and will be for generations to come.
When it ends, be sure to stay for the closing credits for another outstanding anthem penned by Diane Warren, “I Fight,” sung by Jennifer Hudson. RBG reminds us that Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to be a force to be reckoned with, a fantastic film that will inspire and touch everyone who watches it.
RBG is released on May 4