Cool interview with both Erica Jong (Fear of flying) and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast. It is obvious that they are close, although they scrap in the interview! Both are authors and they have an exchange in this interview that highlights the differences between the language of generations. Check out the embarrassment about the lack of thought over word choice.
Here is Erica Jong describing what she thinks is the biggest challenge to feminism today. And her daughter’s retort.
EJ: Waking up the women who don’t realize the risk they’re in. Getting the conversation going again. It’s hard to get the conversation going again, because people think they have it all. And meanwhile all these states are going to outlaw not just abortion, but birth control, which is what they were always about. If you read successive UN reports on the status of women, there is one thing that leads to prosperity in poor countries, and it’s controlling fertility. Once women can control the number of children they have, everybody’s life gets better – economically, and healthwise, and in every other way. It’s been proven. So to see our country going backward in this way is ridiculous. There are probably many unconscious factors, like the fear of being outnumbered by brown and black people.
MJF: You can’t say it like that. It sounds inherently racist when you say it like that. “Fear of being outnumbered by” – it’s not a race war! First of all, you can’t say it like that. To say someone’s “brown” or “black,” you can’t say that. Every liberal bone in my body cringes. And the reality is that it’s not; America’s going to be more Hispanic, but it’s not going to be more “brown.” I don’t know what “brown” is. Is that tanned people? You can’t, I mean, what planet do you live on, “brown?” Mulatto? Did you mean Mulatto? Quinteroon? You can’t say that.
For the record, I don’t think that Erica Jong said anything all that unsettling. But I appreciate the willingness of her daughter to challenge the simplistic language. It is a loving call-out — one which asks her mom to reflect on the simple story of race. I suspect that Erica Jong’s last sentence is spoken in the-voice-of-other-people. Good artifact and good luck on the next linguistic clash! Thank you feministing for the interview.