The Notorious RBG isn’t worried about a backlash, she told NPR during a Sundance interview
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s verdict on #MeToo: “It’s about time.”
“For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it, but now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment,” the much-memed Supreme Court Justice told NPR’s Nina Totenberg during a Sundance Film Festival interview Sunday. “And that’s a good thing.”
Asked whether there might be a backlash to the nationwide movement to combat sexual misconduct, Ginsburg replied, “So far it’s been great. When I see women appearing every place in numbers, I’m less worried about a backlash than I might have been 20 years ago.”
Ginsburg, subject of the Park City-debuting documentary “RBG,” went on to recount her own experience with sexual harassment: During a chemistry class at Cornell University, she said, the instructor offered to give her a practice exam — which, a day later, turned out to be the actual exam. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” Ginsburg said. “I went to his office and I said, ‘How dare you? How dare you do this?’ And that was the end of that.” She made two deliberate mistakes on the test, she added.
“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,” Ginsburg said. “The attitude to sexual harassment was simply, ‘Get past it; boys will be boys’ … This was not considered anything you could do something about, that the law could help you do something about.”
The octogenarian, an early crusader against gender discrimination, also dispensed with wisdom on the fight for equal pay. As a Rutgers Law School faculty member asked to take a sizable pay cut, Ginsburg said, she asked her dean how much a male colleague with similar experience made. “And the dean replied, ‘Ruth, he has a wife and two children to support! You have a husband with a good paying job in New York,’” she said. “The very year the Equal Pay Act passed, that was the answer that I got.” The Rutgers women “didn’t make a big fuss,” she added, but filed an Equal Pay Act complaint and won a university settlement.
Ginsburg’s colleagues have been “judiciously silent” on her cult celebrity status among liberals, she told Totenberg. As for her own “Saturday Night Live” portrayal, RBG invoked impersonator Kate McKinnon’s signature catchphrase: “I like the actress who portrayed me,” she said. “And I would like to say ‘Gins-Burn’ sometimes to my colleagues.”
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