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Columnist Sharon Nesbit writes this week about the influence of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sharon NesbitStopping at the half way mark.

When I was in Sandy high school gym classes, girls' basketball was a half-assed game played on a half court. You could get the ball, dribble to the mid-court line and then were obliged — I guess because of our delicate constitutions — to throw the ball across that line to your counterpart playing the other half of court.

It was a dumb game, played by us with ill-concealed contempt, but it was the law for girls' athletic education.

Our female gym teacher, big, rangy, fast and capable of humiliating our male varsity basketball players, quietly agreed. But that was the law.

So when class was over and we were no longer in "real" gym class she blew the whistle, the line disappeared and we played full court, just like the boys.

Later came Title IX and athletes — even clumsy folk in gym class — got equal treatment.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was way too short to be a basketball player — but she was a towering figure among women and able to convince men that lines should not be drawn through our lives.

Maybe it was the silly basketball rule that made me a feminist.

Not long after that, I went to work for the first time picking strawberries for a living. I would get to buy my own school clothes with the money. So on the second day of strawberry harvest, my mom and little brother working adjacent rows, the farmer showed up asked the age of my brother.

Disappointed at the answer, he shook his head and said he needed a boy about 15 to work on the broccoli planter.

I had seen the planter roll by with four teenage boys comfortably seated, idly placing broccoli starts in rotating wheels.

"Why do you need a boy?" I asked, unintentionally striking the first blow for women's' rights in the broccoli field. I also set a near record for the shortest career ever in the strawberry field.

Straight out of high school and needing money for college, I took a job with an insurance agency in Portland where I took dictation and wrote letters for well-paid men who would not type — woman's work — and clearly had not mastered their native language.

Mostly through dumb luck, I did not get pregnant, putting me among the first in my generation who did not add surprise cousins to the family tree. We had few choices when it came to pregnancy. Who knew that DNA would come along and expose all our deepest secrets?

And then, like Mark Twain once said, "I fetched up in journalism," where men and women were treated equally and equally underpaid.

I would not learn until much later that a tiny woman of towering intellect was marching ahead, helping to clear the way.

The nincompoops now positioning to replace her are not worthy of the task.

Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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