I had the privilege of seeing Eve Ensler kick off her latest book tour for In The Body of the World on Friday, April 26 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her absolute honesty about her own suffering through abuse and cancer and the experiences of the women of the Congo roared through the historic Lensic Theater in such a way that no one could leave there untouched, asleep, still pretending that there is not horrific violence against women and girls in the world. I was inspired to fight harder, more honestly, more radically for the rights of women through the work of The Girl’s Guide to Swagger.
Ensler was sexually abused and beaten as a child. As a result, she learned to emotionally leave her body so that she wouldn’t feel the pain. While she was writing The Vagina Monologues, she heard stories from women about their sexual experiences. “I wish I could say that the stories that I heard were about pleasure and satisfaction and desire and orgasm, but 99 percent of those stories were about women being abused, incested, raped, being forced to leave their vaginas disconnected, never knowing their vaginas,” said Ensler. “That was the beginning of whole consciousness radicalization for me…I had no idea of the epidemic proportions of violence on this planet. It is like a hidden story.”
Ensler also said that women are fractured and cut off from ourselves by the trauma that they have experienced; that we are asleep. But rather than staying in this “semi-sleep,” Ensler woke up and came out fighting. She broke the taboo regarding talking about vaginas with her play The Vagina Monologues.
After she had been performing the play for awhile by herself, Ensler became restless. She wanted to do something more.