Ruth Rymer’s memoir, Raising the Bar: A Lawyer’s Memoir, took me by surprise. I anticipated a standard story, but as I read it, I realized Rymer was a rebel.
For a slim volume, a lot of rebellious living is packed in the pages. First, she married a man whom her parents didn’t approve because he was Jewish. Her parents were well educated but extremely narrow minded and prejudiced. Rymer chose her husband and became estranged from her family for decades. Secondly, her marriage wasn’t quite what she perceived, which took me by surprise. Rymer conformed outwardly to social convention of the day, but she chose to live according to her own convictions.
Becoming a lawyer at 40, Rymer forged new paths for women in California. She described some of her cases and how she handled the rapidly changing landscape pertaining to women and the law. I enjoyed reading how her life coincided with the evolutionary women’s movement.
It has never been easy to be a woman, but Rymer’s experiences highlight the pivotal juncture women faced in the mid twentieth century. Her memoir provides meaningful dialogue for readers contemplating the fluctuations for women during changing times.