8 Quotes From RBG On Gender Discrimination

by Kendyl Kearly

Infamous Supreme Court justice, Internet sensation, and opponent of gender discrimination, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the subject of a new movie about sexism called On the Basis of Sex. Natalie Portman will play the young justice during the days of two discrimination cases during the early 1970s. Portman told Ginsburg that she was insisting on a female director because so few women get the opportunity, according to MSNBC.

Ginsburg's late husband's nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, wrote the screenplay, and when he asked for her permission to tell the story, she said, "Yes, if you like to spend your time doing that." According to MSNBC, Marielle Heller, who directed The Diary of a Teenage Girl, is in negotiations to direct.

Ginsburg worked as a lawyer on two gender discrimination cases in 1971. One involved a single man, Charles Moritz, who was denied a tax deduction for caring for his elderly mother because only women and divorced men were considered caregivers under the law. The other involved Sally Reed, a woman whose son died under suspicious circumstances, and her allegedly abusive ex-husband fought her for the right to administer the son's estate. At the time, Idaho law gave preference to men over women, according to the National Women's Law Center. Reed's case made it to the Supreme Court, but Moritz's didn't, though Ginsburg had hoped that a Supreme Court victory for him would show that gender discrimination can affect anyone.


The biopic will also explore the obstacles Ginsburg faced during her fight for female equal rights, according to The Huffington Post. The liberal judge has been known for speaking out in support of women's and gay rights. Here are eight of her best quotes on gender discrimination:

On The Next Generation

Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.

According to MSNBC, Ginsburg described in a 2001 interview her version of equality: shared child raising responsibilities. Her empowering statements have inspired a series of memes that feature her as the Notorious RBG.

On Abortion

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I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex. ... The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.

At her 1993 Senate confirmation hearings, Ginsburg had to answer whether she thought men and women had equal rights when it comes to abortion, according to The New York Times. RBG fights discrimination in all its forms.

On Past Rejection

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images
You think about what would have happened. ... Suppose I had gotten a job as a permanent associate. Probably I would have climbed up the ladder and today I would be a retired partner. So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune.

Ginsburg said this to MAKERS, a documentary series that focuses on powerful American women, when describing how she was discriminated against by a law firm. The firm had already hired a woman and didn't think it needed another.

On A Female Court

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When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.

Ginsburg said this at a 10th Circuit Bench & Bar Conference at the University of Colorado in 2012, according to CBS News. Currently, there are three women on the Supreme Court: Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

On Appearances

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I—try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.

Ginsburg reproached the dangers of discrimination in a February interview with MSNBC. She has also been a champion against racial discrimination.

On Being Who We Want To Be

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Feminism ... I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, "Free to be You and Me." Free to be, if you were a girl — doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s OK too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers — man-made barriers, certainly not heaven sent.

The SCOTUS justice gave her own beautiful definition of feminism to MAKERS in 2012. She has a legacy of fighting the patriarchy for the sake of men and women.

On The Hobby Lobby Ruling

Justices continue to think and can change. ... I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.

The second female justice of the Supreme Court told Katie Couric that she didn't think the male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision. The case allowed employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives to female workers on a religious basis. The statement proves how unconventional Ginsburg is as she criticizes the Court.

On Being A Teacher

Allison Shelley/Getty Images News/Getty Images
I was a law school teacher. And that’s how I regard my role here with my colleagues, who haven’t had the experience of growing up female and don’t fully appreciate the arbitrary barriers that have been put in women’s way.

Ginsburg said this in a February interview with Bloomberg. And with that perfect mix of empowerment and a dash of passive aggression, Justice Ginsburg continues to be an icon for equality and a barrier for discrimination everywhere.

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