Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”
But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body—pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.
Unflinching, generous, and inspiring, Ensler calls on us all to embody our connection to and responsibility for the world.
This insomniac's opinion:
This memoir was a stunning work of art. It is simultaneously brutally honest and beautifully eloquent. It should have been a short read, but I had to keep stopping to read and reread passages that stopped me in my tracks and made me think of the world in a completely different way. Eve Ensler is, without a doubt, a brave pioneer of a woman. She calls herself a "force of nature" in this memoir. Underneath that tough veneer is a vulnerable, emotional woman and she let that lesser known part of herself shine in this exquisite book.
As I mention quite a bit on this blog, I am a nurse. As I was reading this memoir my primary thought was that every medical professional should read this book. Ms. Ensler has a lot of very profound things to say about the way we treat our patients here in the United States. It is time to listen. Time to treat our patients for what they are- people, not diseases. Whether or not Ms. Ensler meant for her painfully honest account of her experiences to be a war call- I believe it is. May we all demand the care that is deserved by all of us- ourselves, our children, our parents and those who have no one to speak for them. Let us come together and demand better for the sick and ailing in this country and around the world.
Just a few of my favorite insights from the memoir:
"Doctors never believe how simple it is to give patients dignity. It takes a sentence. It takes a short walk around the table."
"What if our understanding of ourselves were based not on static labels or stages but on our actions and our ability and our willingness to transform ourselves?"
"We are the people of the second wind. We, who have been undermined, reduced, and minimized, we know who we are. Let us be taken. Let us turn our pain to power, our victimhood to fire, our self-hatred to action, our self-obsession to service, to fire, to wind."
And, here I am- crying again just typing that last passage out.
This memoir will be published on April 30, 2013. It is a do not miss memoir, my friends.
Worth staying up all night to read?
Yes. You must. Especially if you are a woman.