Eve Ensler is someone who has changed the world. She is a Maker and when you see all she has done, you get why.
I wanted to write about her because she has done so much to raise awareness about sexual violence and April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
I wanted to write about her because she raises awareness about women’s status in the world using her art.
I wanted to write about her because she is an artist who is also very clearly an activist.
I wanted to write about her because she has changed the lives of many people and has made significant impact on the world at large.
I wanted to write about her because her voice has been necessary in the fight against Patriarchy.
CNN wrote an article a week or so ago that quoted her as saying: “The vagina has become so real, so present, so powerful that people are going after it directly. It’s evidence that we’re winning.”
That’s a statement I haven’t wanted to let go of. These days, there’s so much backlash and so much fight against women, by Republicans in particular, that I need that statement. It’s like carrying around a grain of hope when you see all the crazy things going that leave women less than and in a vulnerable place in the face of violence.
Abuse, rape, harassment, inequality, and sexism/misogyny has put and continues to put shame on women about having vaginas, about being women. Eve Ensler has created a movement within feminism that takes the shame away.
She is best known for the Vagina Monologues, which is how I first heard about her. In 2000, I was a volunteer advocate and advocate liaison to the board for the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center. The Vagina Monologues were put on as a fundraiser for the Center. I read them and then to see them performed was even more powerful. They came to life in a different way.
Women originally told their stories to Eve, a woman. She listened and collected those stories. People all over were reading them in book form. Women were performing them and people were listening to them and taking them in. It was so many layers of truth, of identifying, of emotion. It was the voices of women come to life in a different way than had been seen or heard before.
When I told my partner/husband I was writing this post on her, he said, ‘”Oh write in there that I found “The Vagina Monologues” at a bookstore and I bought the book and read them all. Write that I was fascinated in them as a work of the theater that was empowering to women and because it used the world vagina and wasn’t porn. Well, maybe don’t say the porn part.”‘
Too late. I’m saying that part because it’s important. The Monologues have been important, moving and earth-shattering for many people. Eve put the vagina front and center without objectifying women, without women or the vagina being sexualized. That hadn’t been been done in that way before.
“I think if you tell the story of your vagina, you tell the story of your life in some fundamental way,” she says on her Makers video.
A question to think on: How does what has happened to women via their vaginas affect how women relate with the world and how the world in turn relates with women?
If you think “The Vagina Monologues” is old hat by now, that it’s been going on for years, or enough already about the vagina- realize that this was revolutionary. It still is revolutionary.
Women speak out about how they have been hurt, objectified, and raped. Women speak about sexual pleasure and pain. These are taboo subjects. They are words and stories that say women can and must have control over their bodies.
Sixteen years after it was first out there, The Vagina Monologues are still being performed. Those performances have raised $85 million dollars to fight domestic violence and rape. Amazing. But, that’s not all.
Eve Ensler has been at the forefront of modern day feminism and has won numerous awards for her anti-violence against women work as well as for her work as a playwright and writer. Through art activism, she has brought global awareness about sexual violence and women’s many different experiences living in a world that is unfairly biased toward men and oppressive toward women.
She started V-day, which is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.
I don’t want to attempt to rewrite her Curriculum Vita, but I want to note a couple of the many works of hers.
She has been in several films and has toured her plays. “The Good Body,” a play that addresses why women of many cultures and backgrounds perceive pressure to change the way they look in order to be accepted in the eyes of society. “The Treatment,” is a play about how engaging in military conflict can cause moral and psychological trauma.
In 2006, Eve released a political memoir, “Insecure At Last.” She also co-edited “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer,” an anthology of writings about violence against women. She stood up to say the Mexican government should further investigate the femicide in Juarez. She worked with the women of Afghanistan to create programs addressing their needs. She continues to work with women in prison helping them write their stories.
Eve’s most recent book, “I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World,” was released February 2010.
Also around that time- 2010, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and beat it. She wrote the most amazing speech about being diagnosed with cancer, the relation to the women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, chemo, and how the cancer is now gone. She gave it as a speech. It is poetry. Take a few minutes to read it. Seriously it is so beautifully written. With all there is to read in the world and all that we read, some of it could be missed. This is not one of those things anyone should miss. Read it: The Gift of Cancer
Eve Ensler has given me hope about the incessant backlash and hatred against women today not just by saying, “We are winning,” but by encouraging women to speak about their most intimate moments, about moments that perpetrators and misogynists intended them to shut up about, and by the movement her work has stirred all over the world. Her impact has been immeasurable and unforgettable.
From my vagina, from my person, from me as a woman- I want to thank Eve Ensler for her work and the path life has made for her. The world is better for women everywhere because of it.
There is a War On Women and it’s far from over, but YES, we are winning.