Nora Ephron on Crazy Salad
"It’s okay being a woman now. I like it. Try it some time.” - Nora Ephron, in a 1975 interview with Studs Terkel
(jazzy piano music)
- [Nora Ephron] I wrote this piece that was called
A Few Words About Breasts, and I said at the end
that I have a lot of friends who always used to tell me
that I had nothing to complain about and that it was much,
much worse to have big breasts.
And I don't, I'm sorry I don't believe it,
and I still get letters about it.
I still get these endless letters saying
you're wrong, you're wrong.
- [Studs Terkel] My guest this morning is Nora Ephron,
most perceptive young journalist, and the name of the book
based on a Yeates quote is Crazy Salad.
- Yes it's from A Prayer For My Daughter, and the lines are,
it's certain that fine women eat a crazy salad
with their meat, and I thought it was a nice title
for a book about women.
- [Studs] Now you're a feminist and a journalist
at the same time.
This creates something of a conflict, doesn't it?
- [Nora] It certainly does.
You know, I have to say that I never believed
in objective journalism and no one who is a journalist
in his or her right mind does, because all writing is
about selecting what you want to use
and as soon as you choose what to select,
you're not being objective.
For someone like me who was sympathetic
to the women's movement, I was trying to cover it as
a journalist, it always seemed that if I wrote the truth
about the movement, it would somehow hurt it.
If you write that the women spent the Democratic convention
squabbling among themselves, aren't you giving people
who want to put it down the ability to say,
oh, that's women, you give them a little power
and they just behave like cats and dogs toward each other?
You know, one of the lines in the women's movement is
that all of us who care about it say, we don't want women
to do anything really, what this movement is
about is choice.
And really one means that I don't want everyone to go out
and get a job if she doesn't want to, she can do exactly
what she feels.
But, deep down I think there's this sneaking feeling
that if everyone really got it together, the choice
they would make is the one that I made.
I think that's true for a lot of women in the movement,
and it's the reason why we have so much trouble talking
to one another.
We say that but we don't really mean it.
There's a book I reviewed by Alix Kates Shulman
called Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen.
The entire novel is about how difficult, how absolutely
bismally difficult it is to be beautiful.
Well, I can't get into it, and I don't believe it
because I was not beautiful and I don't believe for a second
that she wishes she weren't.
She's trying to tell me something that'll make me say,
oh yes I recognize your pain, and I don't.
The other night I was at a restaurant in New York where
I've never been to without a man.
I went there with a woman friend of mine, and there was
no table and we went to the bar to have a drink.
And the bartender said, are you women unescorted?
I said, yes we are unescorted.
And he said, I can't serve you.
So, I turned to the men to our right at the bar, and I said
this bartender won't serve us unescorted.
Will you do me a favor?
And the man said, of course I will.
That was all the bartender needed
and he served us the drinks.
Now, we have to wait 45 minutes for a table while men
who come in later than us are being seated right and left.
It's a kind of men's hang out.
And I realize that I have lost my right to complain,
because I hadn't walked out when that bartender said that.
- [Man] You are a young woman, gifted, a writer.
Here is the latter third of the 20th century.
Being a woman right now, I imagine is
a very exciting moment.
- Yes it is.
It's terrific, absolutely terrific.
Don't you wish you were one?
- Ha ha!
That's interesting isn't it?
- Well, there is an androgynous strain in all of us.
- It's okay being a woman now.
I like it.
Try it sometime.
- [Studs] That's a good way to end this conversation.
- [Studs] Nora Ephron, thank you very much.
- [Nora] Thank you, Studs.
[Nora] It's always amusing to me when I hear women in the movement
saying that if only women ran the government,
we would not have war.
And we don't have really great role models to draw
that conclusion from.
- [Studs] You were in Israel and Golda Meir,
her whole approach is that which has been hitherto
a very macho approach.
- [Nora] Well, and I think it's absolutely necessary,
given that she's the head of state of Israel.
I don't know what would have happened to that country
if she had been a pacifist, but she isn't a feminist.
Israel, it was a great shock to me when I went there
to cover the war.
Well, as it turns out, Golda Meir is the only woman
who has ever held cabinet rank in Israel.
And the women in the Israeli army perform
all the clerical tasks.
You cannot get a divorce in Israel
without your husband's consent.
You cannot marry in Israel if you are a bastard,
and a bastard only means that your mother was not married
in the eyes of the law.
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