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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 27 EVE ENSLER is best known for her taboo-breaking play, “The Vagina Monologues.” She is also the driving force behind V-Day, a movement to prevent violence against women and girls. V-Day is celebrated on or near Valentine’s Day in more than 700 communi- ties and college campuses worldwide and has raised $35 million for violence-prevention programs. Ensler has just released her first book written directly for the printed page, Insecure at Last: Losing It in our Security-Obsessed World. DAVID SWICK: Why did you write this book now? I am overwhelmed by the obsession in this coun- try with security. Everything seems to be about becoming secure. So I started thinking, Why, when this country is more obsessed with security than ever before, do I feel more insecure than ever before? What is that about? And what is security? Is security possible? Is it the point of our existence? Because it doesn’t feel like becoming secure is why I’m here. If security is not the point, what is the point? To learn how to love, connect, bring about peace, look at justice, look at how to reverse the current paradigm that is desperately rushing us toward our end. The more we become obsessed about being secure, the more narrow we become—the more funda- mentalist, the more terrified of risk, and the more unable to step outside our own little tribes, frameworks, houses, and nations. The point is to become free: free of fear, free of attachment, free of jealousy, free of all those things. In 2003, you wrote a letter to President Bush denouncing a para- digm of domination and violence in America. What is the key to getting more men to oppose violence against women? Men need to start speaking a different kind of truth. I just fin- ished a run in New York of my new play, “The Treatment.” It looks at what torture does to the torturer—how it shatters his soul. In some ways I am more proud of that play than of anything I have ever done, because it was the first time I was able to let myself climb into the heart and being of a man. It was a life-changing experience, because I really felt in my bones, in my cells, in my structure, the tyranny of patriarchy, the tyranny of the militariza- tion of the soul. When men finally get to a point where they can Q&A Just Tell the Truth EVE ENSLER openly fight against that kind of violence and domi- nation, the world is going to shift. What we have to do to bring that about is the big question. I saw a great movie recently, Half Nelson, in which a man com- mitted violence almost because he didn’t know what else to do. If you are brought up in a culture, as men are, that tells you from the time you are born that the worst thing you can do is feel, that the worst thing you can do is cry or express your vulnerability, what options are you left with? I mean, if I couldn’t cry, I would be in an institution. I don’t know what I would do to process the sorrow and loss and rage and heartbreak of being alive in this century. So, I think about men and ask myself, What do they do with that feeling? Where does it go? It seems logical that it’s going to turn into violence. Do you think of yourself primarily as an activist now, rather than a writer? I’m trying not to use any labels like that anymore, because then I get into this duality: am I a this or a that, as opposed to a human being? All of us, including me, like to know who people are. We like to say, “He’s a that; she’s a this.” Then we think we know who they are. What I’m realizing more and more is that I don’t know who I am. This process of living is evolving me all the time. What are some of the challenges and obstacles you are encountering these days in that process of evolution? The way the world is structured, the way the media is structured, the way this country is structured. For example, when I was tour- PHOTOBYJOANMARCUS,COURTESYOFTHEAMERICANCONSERVATORYTHEATER