Ginsburg Reigns Supreme In The New Documentary RBG

Photo courtesy of film.avclub.com.
Photo courtesy of film.avclub.com.

At the age of 84, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an icon, a rock star, and a heroine. In a culture that downplays the value of people over 40, Ginsburg herself seems flummoxed at her newfound fame. “I’m 84 years old and everyone wants a picture taken with me,” she says in the documentary RBG which screened recently at The Michigan Theater. Though mainstream awareness of her equal rights work has peaked in recent years, her contribution in helping women to take the battle for equal status under the law from the streets to the courtroom has been life long.

RGB follows Justice Ginsburg’s life, starting with her childhood, as her mother was one of her biggest influences, with advice like: “Be a lady, but be independent.” Ginsburg explains that to “be independent” meant don’t rely on a man to be the breadwinner. Pretty radical advice for the early 1950’s, when women who attended college were essentially there to meet a husband. Ginsburg laments that many of her female classmates at Cornell (where the ratio of men to women was four to one) suppressed their smarts so as not to surpass what the culture expected of them. While in college she met her husband, who she describes as “the only boy I ever met who cared that I had a brain.” They were supportive of each other’s careers, nurturing a marriage that would last all of their lives.

Not marching, but advocating

The film goes on to explain that Ginsburg entered the women’s rights movement, not marching in the streets, but by spending much of her legal career as an advocate for gender equality (for both women and men) as well as women’s rights. Choosing her legal battles both wisely and strategically, Ginsburg, for example, argued in favor of a husband receiving benefits he was initially denied after his wife died in childbirth. She argued six legal cases on gender equality before the Supreme Court in the early 1970’s, winning favorable rulings in five of the six. In 1993, while in her early 60s, President Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court, when many questioned whether she was too old to serve. As the Court has become more conservative, she has won the hearts of a new generation as she was forced to move from a more centrist philosophy to that of a dissenter.

It’s important that girls understand there was a time, not long ago, when women couldn’t be all that they wanted, with a lesson of vigilance to ensure equal rights under the law for ALL people. There will likely be a tendency for women to take their daughters to see this film, but to really want to further the understanding of the fight for gender equality, they should bring their husbands and sons as well.You still have a chance to catch RBG at The Michigan Theater through May 31.

UPDATE – RBG extended through June 14th at The Michigan!

Trending

Ann Arbor Derby Dimes—All Welcome to Lace Up and Race

Taking a hit looks like as much a part of the sport as skating is, and the players bounce back into play moments after hitting the ground. “Roller derby is the only place where I see people lay each other out, and then high-five,” Spareparts says.

Meet ZZvava

I’ve been writing for The Current for almost 10 years now…, which is crazy to think about. But I’ve known musician Jeffrey Freer for longer than that, from previous bands as well as some of his solo material. He was an Ypsilanti and an Ann Arbor regular for years, but moved away for a spell.

10 Best Venues for Live Music in Ann Arbor and Ypsi

Need to catch a great live show this summer? We’ve got the ten best local spots.

$2M Mystery: Crime Thrills in Mark Beyer’s First Novel

Terry Holbrook heads home from downtown Ann Arbor to Dexter after working his shift as a video editor. It’s a winter night. The highway is icy. The car ahead skids, then crashes. Terry, the everyman in author Mark Beyer’s new page-turner crime thriller, Hired Man, pulls over and rushes to the aid of the injured