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European University Institute/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
While appearing on a panel to discuss the biographical documentary RBG at the Sundance Film Festival, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed her support for #MeToo by sharing her own experience with sexual harassment.
Ginsburg, known as a champion of women’s rights, stressed that older women, who had to fight for the opportunity to even have careers, are no strangers to sexual harassment. However, few had a name for it until relatively recently.
“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,” Ginsburg spoke, the Cut reports. “The attitude to sexual harassment was simply, get past it. Boys will be boys.”
In one case, Ginsburg said, she was studying for a chemistry test at Cornell in the 1950s when a professor sexually harassed her. She called it “just one of many examples” that women her age experienced while building a career.
“He said, ‘I’ll give you a practice exam.’ So he gave me a practice exam,” Ginsburg said, according to the Cut. “The next day, the test is the practice exam, and I knew exactly what he wanted in return.”
Ginsburg subsequently went to the instructor’s office, saying, “How dare you? How dare you?” Afterward, she said, “that was the end of it.” When asked by a reporter if she aced that chemistry test, she said she “deliberately made two mistakes.”
Ginsburg’s experiences with discrimination and harassment play into her own views on #MeToo, which she says is “about time” happened. For her, the movement signals a long-needed change for women.
“For so long women were silent,” Ginsburg told listeners. “I think 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.”
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.