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Edward

JD1 SP-B

Statutory Construction

Reaction Paper

ON THE BASIS OF SEX

The movie portrays a long past period of history. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer of

women’s rights, then a struggling lawyer and a mother, faces adversity and numerous obstacles

in her fight for equal rights among men and women.

In the year 1956, where an overwhelming amount of sex-based discrimination that

made it nearly impossible for a woman to pursue a non-domestic career, Ruth Bader

Ginsburg pursued her studies and entered Law School in hopes of becoming a lawyer. She

was one of the nine female law students enrolled in the male dominated and the most prestigious

Harvard University. Despite a callous remark from the dean of Harvard Law School during the

welcoming dinner, she remained unfazed and continued to pursue her studies. While playing a

game of charades at a social gathering, her husband, Martin Ginsburg, collapsed because of pain

and was later diagnosed with testicular cancer. In spite of her husbands’ condition, she started

attending Martins’ classes in addition to her own, doing both their school works and taking care

of Martin and their daughter Jane.

Martin recovers fully from cancer and got a job in New York. Ruth tried to reason with

the Dean of Harvard to let her finish her studies long distance, despite making exceptions for

male students in the past, Dean Griswold coolly refuses her request on the reason that she has no

special circumstance. This decision made Ruth transfer to Columbia University to finish her

studies and ended as top of her class. Despite her academic achievements, after graduation, no

Law Firms will hire her on the basis that she is a woman, with one stating that: “she might

become a reason of jealous wives.”


Unable to find a job to practice being a lawyer, she was offered Professorship, to teach

law. Sometime, in the year 1970, Ruth Ginsburg had become a respected and successful

professor with most of her students being women who are involved in women’s liberation

movements. Her moment of opportunity arises when her supportive husband brings her a

case in which a man is disallowed the opportunity to be the primary caretaker of his mother,

as that is seen as solely a woman’s job. Ruth realizes this is a case of gender discrimination

where the victim is a man. Ginsburg takes the case in spite of the multiple people

discouraging her. She is backed by her supportive husband and children and marches into

the battle of the sexes. She knows this case could be massively important to helping repeal

gender discrimination everywhere.

She went to meet an old friend who is the legal Director of the American Civil Liberties

Union (ACLU), Mel Wulf, and urges him to help her with the case. Despite saying the case is

unwinnable, Mel later on told Ruth that the ACLU is going to back her case. He arranges for a

mock trial at Ruth’s house. During the questioning from the mock judges, Ruth, who has never

been a practicing lawyer, struggles with the aggressive questioning, forcing Mel to decide that

Martin would argue the case with her. Meanwhile, Griswold has moved up at is now working at

the state along with Brown. They will be opposing Ruth and Martin in the case.

At court, Ruth and Martin make their arguments, and the judges are pretty tough on them,

barely believing that gender discrimination even exists. When opposing counsel gets up for their

arguments, they go after Ruth and Martin personally, accusing them of trying to incite "radical

social change." Ruth decides to handle the rebuttal, she tells the court that radical social change

is already happening. She's seen how her daughter is living a different life than she could, and

that the world is continually changing, and the law should allow for that. She asks them to right

the wrong that is in the law. They eventually won the trial and many other succeeding cases,

Ruth started the women’s branch of the ACLU, Martin continued to become a renowned tax

Attorney, and Ruth, after some time, was appointed to the Supreme Court.

This film reminds us of how far we have come, but it also shows us that we need to

continue the good fight in favor of gender equality. Unfortunately, the film shows us issues
that we are still struggling against today. Gender equality continues to be a prevalent issue in

society today due to the persistent gap in terms of access to opportunities for women and men.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right that every human being is entitled to regardless of

their race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion. The roles men and women play in society are socially

determined and as a result the gender gap is wide. Stereotypically, women are known as the ones

to stay home and cook and clean while the men are at their jobs earning money. However,

gender roles in society are constantly changing. Traditional views of men and women have

changed over the years. The contrasts between conventional gender roles and modern

interpretations of it are subtle yet still looming even today. Although much has changed since the

20th century and we are closer than ever to achieving gender equality between men and women,

there are underlying issues and societal norms that prevent this from being accomplished. We

continue to have very traditional beliefs on what is distinctively ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. As a

result, both men and women alike are forced to defy the status quo to pursue their dreams.

Everything we do must conform to societal norms and if it doesn’t, we are stereotyped. However,

gender does not define a person. We are all human beings and women should not be inferior to

their male counterparts.