‘On the Basis of Sex’ is the story of, the ‘Notorious RBG,’ or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As I’m sure you know, she’s the Supreme Court Justice who just had a documentary made about her exceptional career and the incredible things she’s accomplished throughout her life. Since being seated, she’s become quite the idol of unity for pop culture, most especially recently. She’s eighty-five! Her presence on the court has been awe-inspiring of late as she battles through broken ribs and cancerous nodules being removed from her lungs. Though ill, she still casts her vote on meaningful bills. Playing RBG in this film is Felicity Jones who does a remarkable job driving home the fact that Ginsburg has always had a passion and a drive to do what’s right for people. She could never be bought to back down on a fight… and never has been. She was in law school when being a female in class, instead of the kitchen, was frowned upon and she vowed to change that.
The film starts by informing us that it’s 1956 and its only been a few years since ‘girls’ were allowed to join the Harvard Law School program. In fact, quite rudely, she’s asked why she’s taking the class when, by being in the room, she was stopping a more capable man from having a seat. Aware of her own capabilities, the sexism frustrates her, but she uses her educated mind to ignore the bigotry and chauvinism and to fight back using knowledge rather than anger. After attending Harvard, she moves on to graduate top of her class at Columbia. She’s uncommonly intelligent and not only completes her own class assignments but when her husband falls ill, she finishes his, too. Wanting every possible advantage a man has, she does what it takes to prove herself. After graduation, she procures employment but isn’t hired as a lawyer as she’d hoped. Aware of the fact that it’s because she’s a woman, she’s crestfallen but refuses to surrender. She finally accepts a job she feels is beneath her, becoming a professor at Rutgers Law. There, she passes on her opinions of civil and Constitutional rights. This is when the film gets really weighty. We move into the 1970s where she litigates a tax case with her husband, Marty (Hammer), and students. It’s during his time she cements her legacy of fighting for equal rights.
‘On the Basis of Sex’ is entertaining and meaningful. The script is written to show us not only the roots of how she became the cult icon she is but to reveal why it was necessary that a vocal advocate of civil rights needed to exist. Even though the tax case where she ultimately makes a name for herself is for a man, she sets a precedent that gender shouldn’t apply. The line mentioning that John Adams forgot the ladies in the Constitution sums up the movie rather well. The script is impressive, Felicity Jones is inspiring and displays tremendous acumen and gumption. Her relationship with Hammer is believable as a couple in full support of one another. I feel I have to urge you to watch this motivating story of success because of who RBG is. At a time when women weren’t desired in the system, it wasn’t easy for her, but she fought that system and won. Luckily for you, she still fights for us all today. Seeing where it all began was uplifting and serves as a reminder of what we could be without.