Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has weighed in on the #MeToo movement, saying “it’s about time,” while sharing her own experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination.
“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,”she told NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. “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 also opened up about her own experiences with discrimination, including confronting the Rutgers Law School dean to ask why she was paid less than a male colleague “Ruth, he has a wife and two children to support. You have a husband with a good paying job in New York,” the dean replied. In response, Ginsburg and other women at Rutgers filed an Equal Pay Act complaint, which Rutgers settled.
In another example of gender discrimination, Ginsburg recalled teachers frequently calling her about her son’s behavior. One day she told the school: “This child has two parents. Please alternate calls. It’s his father’s turn.” After that conversation, the school barely called either parent. “They had to think long and hard before asking a man to take time out of his work day to come to the school,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg might have given society a little bit too much credit, however, when she said, “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 and that’s a good thing.” A social movement like #MeToo was necessary precisely because the criminal justice system has not done a great job at taking women seriously, but the movement certainly may become the impetus for permanent, institutional change.