Eve Ensler is the epitome of the barefoot frontrunner. Recently in Oakland, California, she presented her new book Eve Ensler In ‘The Body of the World’ at the First Congregational Church. When she took her voice and passion to the stage for ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ she gave reality and structure to the internal dialogue unacknowledged by women, to themselves, even to each other. She filled the stage with laughter and satire and a look at the area of women’s lives that prior to her creating the context had no place to be. Intimate and gripping accounts had every woman, and the men, have knowledge of themselves in such a way that we were forever changed. So the new book, ‘In The Body of the World’, was welcomed by most who knew of her work, were moved by her work and saw this book as a continuation of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and the V Foundation.
The Vagina Monologues
Since ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ Eve took her interest, her passion and her relentless stand for women and their vaginas to all parts of the world. She knew of her own pain, the rape she had experienced by her father, and she opened herself up to conversations with women about their pain. She listened as much as she spoke. State by state, country by country she was introduced to the full impact of the suffering women have experienced around the world. Then she found in the Congo the ultimate discovery of the women systematically raped in the wars there among tribes. Raped as a means to dominate and control the beaten tribesmen conquered by soldiers at war, paid mercenaries among them. These women were raped repeatedly and left for dead in their villages by soldiers, then rejected by their communities because they were raped. Eve -through the V Foundation helped fund the House of Joy where these women could be medically treated for their damaged vaginas and bodies and spirits. Five years ago in San Rafael, California, I heard Eve speak about this experience and the impact it had on her. The rapes and the violence actually had a cause Eve reported. The particular chemical harvested in the Congo used for our cell phones, lap tops and computers was the source of the wars between the tribes. That message resounding through the auditorium was stark as we sat in stoney silence, our cell phones in our purses or back pockets.
In The Body
The “femicide” in the Congo was shocking enough of an experience to stir and awaken Eve. As she reported in Oakland this week, it was a wake up from her “somnolence,” living in a state of half awake and half asleep in order not to see the pain of the world. But then the tumor that was found and her uterine cancer that was diagnosed and that became her teacher. In connecting with her body which she had done her best to avoid, she now discovered the experience of her connection of her body as a connection to the world. This is the material of the new book: ‘Eve Ensler In the Body of the World.’
She questions how the tumor got into her uterus, surmises that the the latin word for uterus is hysteria, and how the work hysteria has been used to disempower, disregard and dismiss women. Eve challenges the understanding of the word hysteria often used as a description of women in a way that demeans their impact. She poses the question: is hysteria a word used as a means to diminish the wisdom of women for feeling what they feel and knowing what they know. If so then, the choice to feel and be alive to the world is to share the pain and respond with responsibility. Another option is the one Eve said she chose for many years, distraction, business, constant change. For Eve, she has chosen to move toward the knowledge and the wisdom and the healing possible in her own cancer, in her own life and in her participation with women around the world.
The book and the work of Eve Ensler is the work of feminism, the global inclusion of the women of the world and the surroundings that create the conditions in which they live. She is a Barefoot Frontrunner who has taken on areas of raw exposure to conditions suffered by women all over the world, From the places of shame hidden by static systems of belief, she presents an understanding and a perspective that allows new understanding, new interpretations and women to be brought to the level of honoring the feminine. Breaking the chain of systematic abuse and denigration, Eve Ensler brings compassion and understanding to the table of life, world wide. Be it the women in our military service, the women in the Congo or the young women who grow up in poverty unseen and unheard. For Eve Ensler our seeing and recognizing our sacred duty as human beings to do our part and wake up to those conditions that allow the assault of women everywhere to continue is our job. And our future.
*Barefootfrontrunner.com soon to be available