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Eve Ensler's Journey

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Eve Ensler shared her journey as a playwright, author, and activist against violence during a lecture and film screening in the Memorial Chapel on Feb. 6.

It was the goal of Johnston student Megan Welles ’14 to bring Ensler to campus sometime before her graduation.

“I became interested in women’s studies as a sophomore,” she said during her introduction of Ensler. “I was inspired by Eve, and may we all be inspired by the great work you do.”

Ensler is the Tony Award-winning playwright behind “The Vagina Monologues,” which has been translated into 48 languages and performed in more than 140 countries.

“I had no intention of writing a play about vaginas,” she said. “I was writing about homeless women and nuclear war.”

Ensler performed the play in New York City, and was astounded by the amount of women who came to her after the show to share their stories. After hearing about cases of rape and violence, Ensler found it to be “overwhelming,” and in 1998 decided to take a stand.

“I thought, ‘How can we use this play to end violence against women and girls?’” she said.

Ensler enlisted celebrities to perform “The Vagina Monologues,” with Marisa Tomei the first to agree. Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez, and Glenn Close also took part, and the money they raised went to New York City groups helping those who had been abused.

“It was a miracle,” she said. “Miracles are not magical. They are phenomenal events. We can create miracles. They don’t just happen. You have to do what you’re not supposed to do, to be audacious.”

Ensler noted that since then, times have changed dramatically.

“When I started, no one said the word ‘vagina,’” she said. “CNN did a story about it and never used the word ‘vagina.’ You could say penis, but not vagina, and that tells us everything you need to know.”

As the play began to make its way around the world, Ensler started V-Day, a movement to stop violence against women and girls that has helped people in Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Afghanistan and other countries. More recently, Ensler created One Billion Rising, with the name referring to the fact that one in three women around the world – or one billion – will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. This campaign strives to end violence and promote justice for women, and on Feb. 14, 2013, women and men around the world danced as a way of promoting change.

“In Peru this week, for their version of Super Bowl, they were wearing One Billion Rising shirts,” Ensler said. “Amazing things are happening. It has invigorated the women’s movement in India. In Mogadishu, they danced in the streets for the first time.”

At the end of her speech, Ensler shared with the audience “One Billion Rising,” a film comprised of clips from the 10,000 videos she received from One Billion Rising participants around the globe.

“I love this film so much,” she said. “I love it because it was made by the world.”

Posted: Feb. 6, 2014
Written by: Catherine Garcia


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