Nora Ephron, the author, filmmaker, essayist, and feminist, died yesterday at age 71 from complications from a blood disorder. Known for movies such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, as well as her books and essays, Ephron was celebrated for bringing a woman’s voice to a male dominated industry. An article in the Atlantic said, “We lost the world’s funniest feminist” and in a profile in the New Yorker in 2009, Ephron was described as “the funniest feminist, or pseudofeminist, depending on whom you ask.”

Ephron herself was known for her poignant remarks on inequality and misogyny. In her Wellesley College commencement speech in 1996, she told the graduates, “whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” She also challenged the class, telling them, “there’s still a glass ceiling… don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had.”

The Huffington Post said, “She toppled barriers… But most of all, she opened doors. By putting the female experience on the screen and on the page, she made it visible, and worthy, and she elevated it to the level of art.” In the Atlantic article, Alex Leo wrote, “Nora Ephron will be remembered for many things — that she loved her family, that she helped change the voice of journalism, that she was one of the first great female directors — but I will always remember her for what she did for women be they her friends, women she mentored, women she advised, women she employed or women who read/heard/saw her work. Thanks, Nora, from all of us.”

The Atlantic 6/26/12; AP 6/26/12; Huffington Post 6/26/12; New York Times 6/26/12

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