January 23, 2018
She was sexually harassed in college. When she finished law school, at the top of her class, she only found a clerkship when her professor promised the prospective employer that he had a man in mind to take over if she didn’t work out. As a young law professor, she was told she could be paid less than a male peer because she had a husband to support her. In her current job, which she has held for 25 years, her male colleagues often interrupt her.
Some of this may sound familiar.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice of this story, has always been someone women from all walks of life can relate to. She grew up poor in Brooklyn and made a career on the force of her intelligence; she’s a mother and had a long and happy marriage; she blends female gravitas and earthy humor.
At 84 years old, she’s of the generation that came up in the proverbial “man’s world,” when behaviors and attitudes now being denounced were considered unremarkable. She knows that sexism can be so ingrained in a culture that the same men who tell themselves they respect women and consider themselves devoted “family men” can offend and objectify women daily at the office.
She of all people, can appreciate the transformative potential of #MeToo for men and women, and the historical meaning of its appearance during the rule of a president, Donald Trump, who has made political capital out of asserting white male domination.