By: Anne Kirby, Staff Writer
Recently, I gathered some friends and ventured out on a rainy Saturday night to see the movie “On the Basis of Sex.” The biographical film follows the early adulthood and career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female in U.S. history to be confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court. As a young woman in law school in the late ‘50’s, Ginsburg constantly challenged gender discrimination in a time when women were expected to remain in the domestic sphere and were penalized for their ambitions. Countless laws discriminated on the basis of sex, a dichotomy which Ginsburg claimed, “helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.” By virtue of her and her husband Martin Ginsburg’s efforts, as well as complementing endeavors by others, women have obtained many of the rights we were once denied. Women are now encouraged to strive for careers and positions of leadership. Thanks to the American Civil Liberty Union, gender discrimination in regard to employment is now strictly forbidden. Although we have come a long way, the fight is not over. Many barriers remain and prevent women from true equality and equitable treatment.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, women all over the U.S. gathered and marched for exactly this purpose. As of 2019, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), an amendment which, according to its organizational definition, would end a legal distinction between citizens based on sex, specifically in regards to divorce, property and employment, has not been passed nationally. According to data gathered by the ERA organization, the single constitutional right that is equal for men and women is the right to vote. There is still no guarantee that any other constitutional right is equal among all persons. While laws such as the Equal Pay Act and Title IX have advanced women’s rights, the lack of an explicit definition of equal rights leaves an interpretive gap that can and has been dangerous for women fighting legal battles based on gender discrimination. The ERA demands that the law treat all beings as equal, regardless of sex. This has been the goal of feminism since that fateful day at Seneca Falls in 1848, sparking the beginning of the Women’s Rights Movement. Feminism was never about superiority; feminism is the culmination of a cooperative group of people who believe that all beings are created equal.
Women’s rights have come a long way, but we cannot give in now. Giving up is not an option until all people are treated equally under the law. I would be proud on such a day, for we are all capable of greatness. Man or woman, black or white, gay or straight, no matter who you are. Fear of discrimination should no longer be something that holds us back from striving to achieve that greatness. It is a fight that will always be worth fighting. As the beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”