For those of you that don’t know- International Women’s Day is on Tuesday, March 8th. The University of Idaho’s Women’s Center would like to pay tribute by giving our readers a week of us celebrating what this day means to the world—and us as women—and highlight the accomplishments of feminists around the world. I will be starting this week off by applauding one of my favorite feminists: Eve Ensler.
Eve Ensler’s most noted works is The Vagina Monologues, and 2016 is its 20th anniversary. For twenty years this play has touched the lives of many women, inspiring them to love themselves and their bodies. Even though this play was written 20 years ago, it is still prevalent in today’s world and Eve Ensler has not stopped her advocacy for feminism. She has created many different non-profit organizations like V-Day and One Billion Rising to raise awareness of violence against women, has written many different books and plays, and has even been a guest speaker on TEDTalks a number of times.
For those of you that have seen the Vagina Monologues, you’ve already gotten a little taste of the author, Eve Ensler. The Vagina Monologues is her most notable work, and for good reason. It was a revolutionary play that openly discussed, and glorified, the vagina and womanhood. American culture is extremely sensitive to sexual liberation, especially when it comes to women.
Eve Ensler was frustrated with the lack of familiarity and comfort women found in their own bodies, so she dedicated her time to write a play in ode to vaginas. It was written in 1996, and first performed in a cafe basement. It was a hit. America had never seen a play which spoke so candidly and appreciatively about a woman in such blunt terms. She spent years researching and interviewing women to create the series of monologues, and first performed them all by herself. Over the years, it has been translated into 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Many celebrities have performed in The Vagina Monologues including Oprah Winfrey, Idina Menzel, Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Oh, Jane Fonda, and many more. She has received many playwright and performance awards for it.
Eve Ensler described herself as a militant feminist growing up and in college, upset at the pain many women go through – especially when it comes to victims of sexual assault. She herself was sexually and physically abused from a young age, and she commented about how that anger and sadness stayed with her for a long time. She struggled with future abusive relationships and a dependency on drugs and alcohol—it wasn’t until she was married that she went to rehab and received help.
Eve Ensler has faced many of the struggles that she writes about – miscarriage, abuse, divorce… but one thing I’ve always admired about her is that she writes for ALL women. Her Vagina Monologues brought together stories from women of all backgrounds. Women of different color, age, orientation… she also was very notable in writing about transgendered women’s experiences in a monologue, which this year became a required monologue.
Eve Ensler has written 11 plays and 7 books, and has participated in the creation of 5 different movies. The most recent one? Mad Max: Fury Road.
Although her time working on this movie was brief, she was a consultant for it. The director asked her to fly in for a discussion with him and the actors, to give insight as to how this movie can become a piece about feminism.
I am in LOVE with Fury Road. My boyfriend and I are both obsessed with it. One of the best action movies to date, AND it’s jam-packed with feminism? I’m all about that life.
Eve Ensler is one of my favorite writers and outspoken feminists, and knowing that she had a hand in creating this movie just increases my love for it. She spoke with the director about its importance to make Furiosa stand on her own as a character. “All the women in the film maintain their inherent woman-ness,” Eve Ensler commented to Time.
In many action movies, women end up falling into a cliché role of the sidekick or the damsel in distress. She becomes a prop versus a character, and Fury Road was determined to not let this happen to any of the female characters. All of the women are complete badasses that know how to fight and lead and stand up for themselves – but they also still have value as tender and compassionate women. The movie does an excellent job of highlighting that femininity is also a part of strength. Eve Ensler also took the time to speak with the actors playing sex slaves about how real, emotional, and dangerous that reality is. There are women in today’s world that ARE struggling with this reality. It is emotionally and physically damaging, and movie roles need to treat this with respect. These women are not just “sex slaves”- they’re real people. Fury Road did an excellent job of encompassing that.
Eve Ensler is a personal idol. Her words have such an impact on people that she inspired a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. This movement is called, “V-Day.” Eve Ensler has dedicated her life to the empowerment of women and she continues to do so by her speeches and her writing. V-Day raises awareness and provides to women all across the world. Eve Ensler has proven to me the power that words can have and believing what you say and write can make all the difference. She has been able to help many different all across the world, and it was the Vagina Monologues that started it all.
Tune in for the rest of the week to hear more about International Women’s Day and the feminists that inspire us!