Saturday, June 16, 2018

RBG, a Real Tear-Jerker

I was busy being a new parent for much of the 1990s. I'm sure I was aware that Bill Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993, but I don't remember thinking about it much. I know for sure I couldn't have come up with her name, based on her work, until she was nominated.

So it's odd that I spent about half of the time in tears while I was watching the new documentary RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. Ginsburg isn't exactly an unsung hero at this point, but she used to be. As one of the commentators in the film says, her work in the 1970s affected every American, especially women (but that affects everyone, of course). And I never knew it until relatively recently.

I have to confess, the first I knew of that work was from a 2017 RadioLab broadcast called Sex Appeal, which tells the story of the Craig v. Boren case RBG tried before the Supreme Court in 1976. I highly recommend it if you can't get to see the film, or even if you can.

Another reason the movie touched me so deeply is that Ginsburg is only a year younger than my mother. They were both smart young women attending college in small upstate New York cities at around the same time. While life took them along different paths, that similarity made me feel even closer to Ginsburg than I would just from her achievements.

Do yourself a favor and see this film. You may not cry as much as I did, but you'll still learn a lot.

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