Tag Archives: nora ephron

reaction to “having it all” shows need to vet our women leaders

So apparently I’m a cynic. I pointed out that Anne-Marie Slaughter is way too überly-educated to belatedly realize that the structure of the US economy prevents women from “having it all” and therefore needs to be changed. Ah well. No journalist minds being called a cynic. And as Nora Ephron advised, I certainly don’t prefer being nice over being frank. Slaughter’s sincerity or whether she meant well never factored into my reaction, nor should it. In fact, I don’t much care about her feelings; I care about her work-life politics. I prefer to know why they took so long to surface in a policymaker of all people. Gleaning that bright red unmentionable from Slaughter and similarly influential women is more instructive than the kajillionth complaint that work-life is less balance, more gauntlet.

Instead of joining the pity party, it should be pointed out regularly and often that the work-life conversation among women in 2012 is largely the same as it was in the mid-1990s. At least 15 years ago, says noted work-life researcher Sylvia Ann Hewlett, paid parenting leave was on the Democratic agenda. Not so this election year nor the one prior. Apparently commiseration, not policy, is what many American women–with the liberal media’s encouragement–do best. But passing misery like some white women’s grandmothers passed Tupperware is not my story. I come from a different tradition and mine compels me to caution that the conversation surrounding Slaughter’s article moves American women backwards. Advancing the conversation away from a 20-year-therapy session to organizing and advocating for changes in policy will require us to be more selective about who and what feminism is. Right now though, it seems anyone who has a vagina and talks at the same time gets a pass.

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r.i.p. nora ephron, although i hardly knew ye

If I were 22 and lonely in Kathmandu like Ariel Levy I’d never pull out a Nora Ephron book. Home alone on a wintry Saturday evening, yes, I’ll watch an Ephron movie on TBS–and that’s how I knew her, in that limited, younger-woman-browsing-entertainment-for-older-women way. I knew the name Ephron of course; you can’t move in literary circles in New York City, among Upper East Siders or in the magazine world and not know of her. But since I’d never read her work, I don’t know the true measure of her value to letters, the public sphere or to certain women. What I do know is that Ephron, who died this Tuesday at the age of 71, wrote well about life as she knew it. That’s my goal and daily struggle as a writer but she did it. Nuff respect.

I heard her speak once at an early morning invite only breakfast junket. The food was too good, the surroundings overdone. Another famous person–younger, more attractive, not yet needing a lot of Botox–was seated next to her but I only remember Ephron. Witty, sharp, irreverent and seemingly rating the morning’s event no higher than the next opportunity to nap or get her hair done. I understand why she’ll be missed.


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