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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

AIRED: November 04, 2016 | 0:05:34

(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.

(jazzy music)

- [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?

(jazzy music)

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.

(jazzy music)

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.

(jazzy music)

- [Studs] That's a good way to end this conversation.


- [Studs] Nora Ephron, thank you very much.

- [Nora] Thank you, Studs.

(jazzy music)

[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.

(jazzy music)


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