Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg '54 shares her #MeToo experience and declared support for the movement.

January 23, 2018

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shares #MeToo Experience at Cornell

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 shared a personal #MeToo experience from her time at Cornell and voiced support for the movement on Sunday.

Ginsburg was attending the Sundance Film Festival for the premier of RBG, a documentary that covers her life and career, according to The Washington Post. During an interview with Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for NPR, Ginsburg recalled that her chemistry instructor at Cornell once gave her a practice exam that she later discovered was the same as the actual exam.

“I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” Ginsburg said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”

Despite what Ginsburg described as the dominant “boys will be boys” attitude toward sexual harassment at the time, she did not let this incident go. Ginsburg said she deliberately made two mistakes on the exam and also went to confront the professor.

“I went to his office and I said, ‘How dare you? How dare you do this?’” she said. “And that was the end of that.”

The justice also declared her support for the #MeToo movement and said it was “about time” for women to be able to stand up against sexual harassment.

“For so long, women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it,” she said. “But now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment, and that’s a good thing.”

After sharing her experience as a student, Ginsburg discussed her fight for women’s rights and gender equality after she entered the teaching profession.

The Cornell alumna filed a lawsuit against Rutgers University in 1964 for pay discrimination and another one against Columbia University in 1972 for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex along with several other characteristics.

When asked whether she fears a backlash against the women who have spoken out about sexual harassment and abuse, Ginsburg replied that she will wait to see what happens but “so far, it’s been great.”

“When I see women appearing every place in numbers, I’m less worried about backlash than I might have been 20 years ago,” she said.