Nora Ephron & Cioux


There have not been many direct applications of feminist criticism on the 1989, Nora Ephron film When Harry Met Sally. Many examinations of the movie focus on how enjoyable the movie is or how it reflects the lives of the people who made it. Feminism positively asserts itself in the movie through the career equality, independence, and intelligence of the main characters. Applying feminism to cinema has evolved over time with woman moving from object seen in a film, to subject feeling and expressing desires. However, the movie is written about the story of a real man with a fictional woman who is tailored to be a counterpart of the main character. The movie shows the improvement of a woman’s role in film and is written by a woman, but its main character keeps her desires silenced throughout the film, and follows the path towards marriage and patriarchy.

Cixous’s theory in “The Laugh of the Medusa” calls for a radical feminism where women’s biology is nearly written into text. She demands women to write not in the manner established by a male-dominated history, but through fluid, visceral prose. Escape from the treacherous order of hierarchy is key in French Feminism. Women in Cixous’s school of thought break away from old philosophy and make their imprint on the world through the play of Post-Structuralism, especially as defined by Derrida. Although Cixous’ theory of “feminine” writing is difficult to actually imitate and implement into coherent writing, her rousing plea for women to “write themselves” into

life cannot be ignored.

Literature Review

French Feminism

The move away from patriarchy began in part by Post-Structuralist philosophers, like Saussure, who revealed that language arbitrarily corresponds to various meanings contingent upon cultural practices. Once this was established, cultural practices and traditions like patriarchy began to be recognized, questioned and fought against. This belief is based on the existential notion of language coming after material reality, which impacts both literary and social theory.

French feminism is dominated by women like Cixous, Irigaray, and Kristeva. Molly Hite, Andrea Nye, and Clara Junker all write about how these three women moved into the intellectual realm of a male-dominated world of philosophers. Without the influences of French philosophy, like that of Derrida, these woman would not have the vocabulary to describe binary oppositions created by word pairings like male versus female. Lacan’s insights concerning symbolic order also show how women begia to understand themselves in the world. Moving outside of Post-Structuralist theory, Cixous and Irigaray push beyond linguistic knowledge, attempting to change the treatment of women in society, attempting to change the world by dissecting whole systems of thought, seeing even the patterns in math and reason as establishing patterns of marginalization.

All three authors seem to worry that the effects of this feminism will not last. Nye postulates that the demands of French feminsm are so radical that they will require a whole new

language. Specifically, Nye questions Cixous’s overly emotional emphasis on language.

Hite gathers excerpts from literature that reduce women to categories, like that of a receptical, vessel, or giver; all ways that women exist only for men. Juncker emphasizes how French feminism is characterized by the need to not focus on physical woman, but on writing that is feminine. However, there is still an element of the physical in the carnal metaphors used in these somewhat erotic writings, writings that radically re-write stories and ideas of the past, like Freud’s concept of phallocentricism. Also, this feminism calls for women to put their personalities into their writings. Juncker compares American and French feminist traditions, showing how much the American tradition works within the patriarchal system of reason and logic, leaving the the French traditions as a non-academic sphere.

Cixous and Feminism

Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa” promotes a new type of writing that stands in opposition to the rational, aggressive prose produced by men, known as “écriture féminine.” This type of writing is one where women should literally write their bodies into words, and no longer remain repressed and silenced. Although Cixous writes this manifesto with passions and eloquence, critics, and even Cixous herself, have found it extremely difficult to figure out how to write this way and to be able to recognize this writing as distinct from other forms.

Christiane Makward interviewed Cixous in 1976 and questioned her about her methods of studying literature, and the importance of sign and signifiers in discourse. Like Makward, Todd and Rabine sought to better understand “feminine” literature. They have trouble identifying a certain type of writing that exists in a world of male texts. The problem with this may be that you

it is hard to construct a methodology that is essentially anti-systemic.

In Janet Todd’s book Feminist Literary History, she notes how both French feminists and their Post-Structuralist predecessors are attempting to break free from Western rationalism and patriarchy. However the difference is Cixous’s feminine writing is a graphic representation of physical woman who write in ink, like a mother’s milk, and reacts to the world with blood, like a menstrual cycle. Leslie Rabine further explores the nature of feminine writing, comparing Cixous to Claire Demar, an early feminist French writer, contemplating how women can actually get outside of the structure of language in order to speak. Rabine traces 1830s French feminism to the Saint-Simonian movement that claimed that God had male and female natures. Both Cixous and Demar write about a woman who self-validates, and is nearly as deistic as the God in Saint-Simonianism. Also, both women use literal and figurative language writing themselves into multiple discourses. Both Rabine and Todd recognize the the movement outside of language is not only happening in Cixous’s works, but also the world around her. Cixous does give an example of a male writer, Genet, who invokes the spirit of feminine writing. Mairead Hanrahan wrote about Genet in The French Review. She notes that Cixous coined the word “sext,” showing how sex can be voiced through gendered writing. This article explores the call, the prerogative, for woman to write with a “feminine libidno.” Genet’s and Cixous’ writings provide a discourse on breaking previously established gender roles, without eliminating them completely. In order to reveal Genet’s writing as sometimes misogynistic, Hanrahan refers to how Genet writes about a rape which is caused by a woman’s desire to be raped. Also, Hanrahan points out that Genet writes as a man, using a feminine style, while Cixous writes as a woman who celebrates the ways she is Other.

Cixous and Theater

American cinema is not often the place where Cixous’s theories are applied, but Cixous wrote plays which are useful to examine as forms of entertainment that employ feminine writing. Sue Thomas and Bernadette Fort wrote articles on Cixous’s plays, “Sorties” and “The Purjured City,” respectively. Thomas looks at how Cixous recognizes that traditions of love deprive women of desire, and, also, how alterity cannot be understood so much as lived, then overcome. Part of overcoming means re-structuring the idea that the mother is part of “feminine” writing.

Fort interviews Cixous about about a play on a real AIDS breakout in France. Cixous dramatizes this historical event, using a similar style to the one Shakespeare uses for his dramas, to show what justice means for society throughout time, and what kind of burdens people carry. Cixous chooses to write about French hemophiliacs in the 1890s to how a specific group suffers as sort of genocide.

Ruby Rich situates the dilemma of feminist criticisms of films as following the traditions of men making cinema for both fiscal and artistic purposes, and also needing a new vocabulary to describe how women have been silenced. In reclaiming cinema, Helene Cixous uses humor and sexuality to confront men, in what Rich dubs as a “Medusan” approach.

Cinema and Feminism

Sally Staford and Annette Kuhn write about the ways feminism, broader field as a whole, influences film. They are just a few of the many who have begun comparing feminism and film, e

specially after Laura Mulvey’s studies on the male gaze.

Staford reviews feminism’s impact on film through five stages that relate to the sociological and psychoanalytic studies of women. The first stage of feminism was a reaction to the sexist portrayal of women’s images, but had little to do with analyzing why culture produced these films. The next stage brought women to the stage as directors and producers, new creators on the scene who broke out of the traditional molds of patriarchal representation. Following this phase women moved the focus from quality to difference, supported by the philosophy of semiotics. Finally, Staford uses The Long Kiss Goodnight to show how gender lines continue to blur, representing that societies ideologies are not the same as their biological realities. The variety of themes concerning women in films shows how complex the idea of having a fixed gender stipulation is. Kuhn focuses on much older films than Stafford, and looks at not only stories in films, but the entire production process. She compares how films are made with political theories of women’s subjugation. Clearly influenced by Post-Structuralism, Kuhn discusses how women in cinema function as signifiers.

Articles that are examples of the literary theory of feminism applied to contemporary movies in a scholarly discussion are “Thelma and Louise: on the road to feminism?” and “The (Un)Speakable FEMININITY in Mainstream Movies: Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’.” The authors, Jane Arthurs and Jaime Bihlmeyer try to determine if films actually deviate from the Western traditions. Arthurs questions the authenticity of a film which has a primary goal of entertaining as really adding to the feminist discourse. Bihlmeyer questions the way cameras and lenses are used in the film to manipulate the focal point of the male gaze. These articles serves as a template for this analysis of When Harry Met Sally.

Romantic Comedies, and the biography of Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner

Articles on Nora Ephron, and Rob Reiner, and how they collaborated to make the film are a useful source for analyzing the motivating factors and implications of the film. Patricia Mellencamp and Peter Williams Evans both write about the role that Meg Ryan, giving life to Nora Ephron’s stories, plays in film. Partrica Mellencamp mourns the ways women are portrayed as only sexual and not intellectual creatures. She searches for where women’s desires exist in film, if they are only see themselves as beautiful, glamorous, tragic girls. Mellencamp notes that When Harry Met Sally distinguishes that men want physical relationships and women want emotional promises. However, despite that gulf, Nora Ephron manages to celebrates women as clever, where writers like Woody Allen are either disparaging or ambiguous in their portrayal of women. Evans sees Meg Ryan as pro-heterosexual functional couples in a time of burgeoning independent, non-traditional roles.

George Keller provides background information on Ephron, referring to her interactions with Bennington College and Boston University — where she humorously but pointedly related the private lives of the faculty, claiming that it was about people, not a commentary on higher education– and her work concerning university gossip for Esquire magazine. Keller recalls an interview with Ephron where she discusses her desire to be appropriately feminine and passive, yet also feminist and conservative. Ephron is described as a liking the mediocre and lower aspects of culture, yet connecting to these niches by using to a combination of honesty, wit and knowledge of contemporary culture.

Romantic Comedies

Focusing primarily on When Harry Met Sally, David R. Shumway, Daniel Kimmel, and Frank Krutnik explore Ephron and Reiner’s working relationship. Kimmel provides biographical information on Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s family’s, showing how their familiarity with Jewish neurotic characters impacts their movies. Kimmel notes that a key element of the story is that it does not focus on the jobs of Harry and Sally, nor is the movie propelled by events, but instead dialogue. While much of this dialogue is based on Reiner’s life, written while he was coping with a divorce, Ephron created Sally as a fictional character, existing to compliment Harry. Krutnik compares the role of romance in Annie Hall and When Harry Met Sally, showing how the couple in the former film searches for self-realization and the story focuses on Annie’s inability to become like Alvy, whereas in the latter the couple are set on equal planes, and search negotiate their relationship to find commonality, a way to experience their counterpart’s otherness.

Shumway, Kimmel and Krutnik all recognize how romantic comedies are formulated to represent not how reality is, but how people want it to be. Another aspect of romantic comedy they point to is the importance of hearkening back to older stories of love, adding current sexual ethics, then using a facade to combine the two. shows how movies that are romantic comedies confuse there viewers about what marriage is, instilling the desire for marriage as the alternative to isolation. Shumway’s article notes the changing film industry in a society that seeks to understand divorce, remarriage and women who have their own agency. Despite these changes, movies still follow heterosexual and patriarchal rules, emphasizing the importance of a father’s approval. Even when women challenge normative gender rules, there is an implication at the end of films that they must change for relationships to work.

Shumway’s article shows how movies that are romantic comedies confuse their viewers about what marriage is, instilling the desire for marriage as the alternative to isolation. The article notes the changing film industry in a society that seeks to understand divorce, remarriage and women who have their own agency. Despite these changes, movies still follow heterosexual and patriarchal rules, emphasizing the importance of a father’s approval. Even when women challenge normative gender rule, there is an implication at the end of films that they must change for relationships to work.


While none of these texts are focused solely on applying Cixous to When Harry Met Sally, the combination of feminist theory, Cixous’s specific ideas about feminine writing, Cixous’s views on theater, how feminism and film are connected, and how this movie was produced, can still used to analyze the movie. All of these fields can help to examine if feminism is a force in films today, or if society is still promoting the virtue and ideologies of marriage, patriarch and silencing women.


When Harry Met Sally was the product of conversations over a few years between Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron. The movie they were to make was to deal with men and women being friends. Ephron wrote Harry’s character based on Rob Reiner himself, and Riener spent time telling her the difficulties of being divorced. Although she based some of Sally’s quirks, like the pi

cky way Sally orders off of herself, the character is primarily fictional, a compliment to Harry’s sad character (Krutnik 17). The fact that the woman in this story is not truly based on a real woman shows how Nora Ephron refrains from writing women into the text. She writes women as the solution to man’s problem, as the counterpart to a real person. She is also follow the rule of the producer which might keep her from telling the, gasp, truth about women. Cixous describes the how male dominated power relationships work, saying “big bosses don’t like the true texts of women – female-sexed texts. That kind scares them” (1644). A screen-writer would have difficulty is sext in screenplays was upsetting their producers.

Cixous insists that “woman must put herself into the text– as into the world and into history– by her own movement” (1643). Although Ephron is a successful screenwriter, she still answers to producers, and even claims to be motivated not be the desire to give women a voice, but sometimes to have revenge on men (Keller 39). Yet, she punishes women by leaving them stuck in the same situations, needing to be rescued by marriage, the theme of the movie. The goal of the characterized is realized at the end, as they speak about their wedding, showing the prominence of marriage as the end all, be all of society. Cixous does not see men and women and the goal of life as marriage being the sum of all things. She boldly states, “I refuse to strengthen them [the marginalizing traditions] by repeating them, to confer upon them an irremovability the equivalent of destiny, to confuse the biological and the cultural” (1643). Ephron shows a repition of marriage throughout the story, with distinct gender roles that silence women and let men reign as the head of households.

Before looking at how the plot unfolds into a stifling portrayal of the long road to marriage, it is important to note that at this point, when the movie was made, feminism had brought about c

hanges in the way women lived in reality and on screen. First, there is the fact that Ephron is a movie writer. Women have more and more opportunities in media, and Meg Ryan, even if she does follow somewhat stereotypical feminine roles, has grown wealthy from her work as an actress. Also, the gaze of the male, physically objectifying the female throughout the film is not really prevalent in this film. Harry and Sally have nearly equal screen time.

The occupations of men and women in this film do not reflect hierarchy, careers are barely even mentioned in the film, and both Harry and Sally have nice apartments they supposedly pay for themselves. There are no parents in the movie urging them to settle down and get married. However, where older movies might have portrayed a father telling his daughter what to do, in this movie Sally and all the characters have already absorbed the goal of getting a family. Cixous’s goal in “The Laugh of the Medusa” is twofold: to eradicate the past and to look to a future where women can speak (1644). The film neither voices the frustrations of women in the past, nor shows any signs of changing. So, while there are some ways that feminism has made women appear as equals, the plot and the dialogue point otherwise.

The Problem

The great tragedy that many women is poignantly laid out by these words of Cixous. “We the precious, we the repressed of culture, our lovely mouths gagged with pollen, our wind knocked out of us, we the labyrinths, the ladders, the trampled spaces, the bevies — we are black and we are beautiful” (1645). Women have not been “seen.” Cixous does not plan to continue living in this troubling reality, but proclaims who she is boldly. When Harry Met Sally is a story that portrays men and women as equals in jobs, but does not accurately show the history of how men and wo

men have had complex, painful relationships where women are dominated. Culture, in the words of Cixous “either obscures women or reproduces the classic representations of women (as sensitive – intuitive – dreamy, etc.)” (1646). Meg Ryan is the epitome of the classic woman in many films; cutesy, considerate, naive, and kind. She’s a good girl who would not hurt a fly. This is not the New Woman that feminism fights for. This is a reiteration of the old.

When Harry and Sally Meet

Cixous seeks to fight against the “conventional man” (1644). Harry is an example of the conventional, American man, showing up in the film’s first scene wearing a baseball tee, like a good sporty all-American kid. He spits grape seeds at her window, and once in Sally’s “space,” her car, and crawls around with his butt in her face. His physical body emerging on the scene with and an apathetic, abrupt attitude. He’s unabashedly honest; she’s polite.

Sally begins the story upstaged by a couple kissing each other, but does not get out of the car, does not say what she is thinking, but only clears her throat. This shy entrance is polar opposite of Cixous’s ideal women who is bold, one “seizing the act to speak, hence her shattering entry into history” (1647). Sally’s first lines are asking Harry is he wants to drive, to have control. Then, when he offers her a chance to speak about herself, she responds “The story of my life isn’t even gonna get us out of Chigaco. I mean, Nothing’s happened to me yet.” Sally is given the opportunity to say who she is, and yet claims to not have a story. Cixous would claim that woman both necessarily have a story and must tell the story. Cixous begain writing at twenty seven (1645), and Sally at around twenty-two is about to become a journalist, yet has nothing to say about herself, a self that Cixous would say is bursting to get out.

“O” the lies

Sally does the opposite of expressing and exploring her sexuality, suppressing “inappropriate” desires. While Harry can talk loudly about whether or not he’s had decent sex, Sally starts to speak up and a restaurant falls silent, so she lowers her voice. Cixous would not lower her voice, but proclaim her sexuality. Later Sally mentions that her craziest fantasy involves someone taking off her clothes and nothing more. She may be participating in casual sex, but she still wears childish “days of the week” panties. She keeps herself from the place Cixous defines as “a world of searching, the elaboration of of a knowledge, on the basis of a systematic experimentation with the bodily functions, a passionate and precise interrogation of her erotogeneity” (1644). This exploration that Cixous refers to brings women actually pleasure; it does not necessitate that they pretend they are enjoying themselves, like Sally who fakes orgasms.

According to this Sally, women are rational about their sexual choices, and she considers it like someone doing a cost/benefit analysis. Sally even claims that “she would prefer a passionless marriage” over “the best sex,” as would “any woman in her right mind.” Sane Cixous would violently disagree that a passionless marriage was a good way to live, but longs for women to encourage their passion. Cixous describes how writing will allow “a woman’s body, with its thousand and one thresholds of ardor – once, by smashing yokes and censors, she lets it articulate the profusion of meanings that run through it in every direction” (1650) Cixous uses sexual metaphors and at the same time is telling women to discover their sexuality.

The scene where Sally fakes an orgasm might be understood by some as a success for feminism, since Sally is basically flouting unapologetic sexual pleasure, reflecting the freedom of the sexual revolution, yet Sally admits that the action is forced, not actually reflecting the heights of

physical pleasure. Cixous urges women to experience the limits of their bodies, not their imaginations. She does not want women to write themselves into text as something that is distant and contrary to who they are and what they feel. “Feminine” text is a way to unite with an existing self, not move towards an ideal self. Passion rings loudly in Cixous’s work, showing her honest, authentic insights. Cixous’s desires are explicitly laid out. Sally, in voicing a fake orgasm, is silencing her own desires.

Cixous call for women to write is supposed to womankind with “her goods, her pleasures, her organs, her immense bodily territories which have been kept under seal” (1647) With this woman can find pleasure, can have organs that relate to what their bodies feel, not what they think they should feel.

Joe silences Sally

Sally represses other physical desires throughout the film. Cixous remembers how she used to be before she progressed into a bold woman, saying “I didn’t open my mouth” (1644). Sally carries on a live-in relationship with successful, good-looking Joe, but does not voice her desire to have children and be married. Although she admits wanting children and marriage, both very visceral realities, to Harry, and even to wanting sex on the kitchen floor, she does not act on these instincts. Concerning the desire to have children, Cixous writes “Let nobody threaten you; in satisfying your desire” (1653). Sally stays silent in her relationship until Joe, finally tells her he does not want the same things as her. One tiny step is taken in the overarching world of feminism, by giving voice to repressed desires, but Sally does not take action. Harry, on the the other hand, gets married when he wants to. Although he goes through a difficult divorce, he is not deprived of being able to admit to his desires, chase them and be disappointed by them.

Another example of someone who like young Cixous “didn’t open [her] mouth” (1644) is Sally’s best friend who stays in a relationship with a married man who will never commit to her. Although Marie says “He’s never gonna leave her,” she silences this truth and lives in a lie. The lie includes sending flowers to herself to make the married man jealous. Her desires are silenced, just as her existence is hidden from the man’s wife. Both women are in ways victims.

So Happy

While Cixous articulates that women should feel joy and physical pleasure, part of her philosophy encapsulates the ebb and flow of emotions, specially if writing is supposed to be hormonal. Sally describes herself saying, “Basically, I’m a happy person,” which stands in opposition to Cixous, who states that in reality, women are “ever seething underneath” (1645) and goes on to proclaim: “I, too, have felt so full of luminous torments that I could burst” (1644). For only five minutes of the movie does Sally actually burst in anger, after she and Harry discuss their “mistake” of having sex. The whole movie Sally seems fairly content to watch her friends marry, without doing anything about it herself.

Gender Problems

At one point, Sally and Harry discuss sex and Harry mentions how he thinks about leaving immediately after. Perhaps his reason for leaving is explained is this explanation by Cixous: “One can understand how man, confusing himself with his penis and rushing in for the attack, might feel resentment and fear of being “taken” by the woman, of being lost in her, absorbed or alone” (1645) Harry describes cuddling as a chore, saying all men are waiting“until we get to leave.” Perhaps what really occurs in some male psyches is this fear of losing self through intercourse.

In history, men have generally been the ones to sneak out in the night and leave wives, b

ecause they could have a feasible life without their wives. Their ability to make money provided this freedom, this out. In this film, the formula is switched, and Harry’s first wife leaves him. His sadness after could partially be caused by loneliness, but also “by his fear of being a woman” (1649), since he has been abandoned, an attribute of men that Cixous critiques.

Parrot talk

Egotism in men is similar to what Cixous dubs “Self-admiring, self-stimulating, self-congratulatory phallocentricism” (1646). Harry fits this mold, partly as he is the one who provides Sally with confidence, telling her she is attractive, implying that he can see objectively what she can’t. He sees “empirically, you are attractive” showing how man holds rationalism and enlightenment truth as fact. At the start of the movie, Sally feels that she should not be complimented since Harry is involved with her friend. But Harry is certain he can. Sally also wears frumpy clothes, albeit this was made at the end of the eighties, and Harry tells her to wear skirts. What’s troubling is that Sally has not considered this herself, and is still seeking to please.

Harry is also the one who comforts Sally when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Joe, and is able to tell her it will be alright. He is the problem solver. Whereas, when Harry sees his ex, Sally cannot help him. He does not go to her, but even rejects her comfort. Harry has the autonomous quality of being able to posit truth, whereas Sally cannot do those things herself, but must turn to Harry. Cixous says that woman has two responsibilities. First, she must “return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her” (1646). Sally’s insecurities reveal that she is unable to take her body back, to accept herself without the help of someone else. She is passive in her choices, reacting to the world around her.

Her friend Marie also plays at the male ego, when she quotes Jess, Harry’s best friend, to him, unaware it is him.

“I read that in a magazine somewhere,” she says.

“I wrote that” Jess says.

“Get out of here” Marie says. “I’ve never quoted anything from a magazine in my life. That’s amazing.”

“Well, it spoke to you and that pleases me.”

Jess and Marie’s relationship begins with her mimicking him, showing how men are still taking the lead. Both Harry and Jess are examples of how “writing has been run by a libidnal and cultural – hence political, typically masculine – economy . . . where woman never has her turn to speak” (1646). Women speak in the movie, but sometimes only after they are spoken to.

Another responsibility that Cixous demands from “feminine” writing is that change will be highlighted by women’s “seizing the act to speak, hence her shattering entry into history.” The famous lines of the movie consist of a man “seizing the act to speak,” when Harry says his reason for confessing his love is that “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” The male gives this speech, and the female willing goes along. Though she had realized this before, then she could only express that she is frustrated with Harry, not that she loves him. The urgency of Harry’s confession is similar to what is going on in “The Laugh of the Medua,” as Cixous has really that she can speak, so is determined to speak as much as possible. If only feminism were approached with Harry’s certainty and fervor.

It is about marriage

Throughout the film, Harry and Sally deal with loneliness. Much of their relationship is based on companionship to avoid feeling isolated. However, there is not a commonality or similar passion that keeps them together. They seem to only see the other as really desirable when no one else is around. Cixous questions her readers, saying “What’s a desire originating from a lack? A pretty, meager desire”(1654). This is the type of desire that brings Harry and Sally together. They are lacking partners, so they accept each other, unlike Cixous’s women who are “not afraid of lacking” (1645) The romance of the film is really found in the fear of alienation.

Thus far, a significant portion of the movie has not been examined, and that is the many “marriage commercials” throughout the film. Little snipets show clips of couples telling the cute story of how they met. It’s the continuance of “the familial-conjugal enterprise of domestication” (1651), where women are “led into self-disdain by the great arm of parental-conjugal phallocentricism” (1644) A male voice begins the movie telling a story: “Author, you see that girl? I am going to marry her . . . And two weeks later we were married.” This is the story that is told and retold throughout the film by couples, reinforcing the the institution of marriage and the way that patriarchs begin relationships and conquer women like imperialists take over land. While politely women occupy their positions on the couch and mostly listen to their husbands speak for them. Cixous says “Hold still, we’re going to begin doing your portrait, so that you can begin looking like it right away” (1655) -which is similar to the way the couples are arranged like a family portrait that would hang on the living room wall and attest to their greatness, the feats of partriarchy, the reign of the father.

And the wives and Ephron sit idly by, so that the woman “is reduced to being the servant of the militant male, his shadow” (1647). Finally, they marry, and Sally gives into the sometimes

rude and gloomy all-American boy, to be his wife. Sally is so far from the “she’s as her-she, it’s in order to smash everything, to shatter the framework of institutions, to blow up the law, to break up the “truth” with laughter” (1952). Ephron has the ability to make audiences laugh., but only “within the discourse of man” (1651).

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