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Lions Roar : July 2019
Eve Ensler once feared what she’d face when she was alone with her mind in nature. Today, at 65, she welcomes the connection to herself and the natural world. The Fierce Love of Eve Ensler As creator of The Vagina Monologues, she changed the way the world regards women’s bodies. Then she started a global movement to stop violence against women. Now, Eve Ensler tells LINDSAY KYTE about the long journey of coming home to her own body. F AMED FOR HER FEARLESS WORK as an activist, author, and theatre artist, Eve Ensler has found peace in a quiet country home where a statue of Tara sits in the stillness of the pond in her yard. “ Tara has been for me a beacon of the way, being the mother of all the buddhas,” she tells me. “As the first feminist buddha, she is a powerful force of guidance and inspiration. She has to do with compassion, wisdom, and connection, and that is essential to my life here in the country.” A quiet life in the country would have been unfathomable to the younger Eve Ensler, who used to view the earth as her enemy. “I have been afraid of trees,” she writes in her memoir In the Body of the World. “I did not live in the forests. I lived in the concrete city where I could not see the sky or sunset or stars. I moved at the paces of engines and it was faster than my own breath. I became a stranger to myself and to the rhythms of the earth.” More than that, she viewed her own body as an enemy. “My body was a burden,” she writes. “I saw it as something that unfor- tunately had to be maintained. I had little patience for its needs.” Yet it was trying to understand this enemy of a body that set Ensler on her path to changing the way the world regards wom- en’s bodies—through her plays, books, activism, and the candor with which she describes the experience of being in a body that never felt like home. SOMNOLENCE IS A WORD Ensler uses to talk about her childhood growing up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the 1960s in Scarsdale, New York. She defines it as “a self-produced narcotic state triggered by extreme danger, a kind of splintering of self, a partial leaving of one world with one foot or semiconsciousness in another.” Young Eve had to find such ways to leave her body when her father committed horrific acts to it. “In this semi-sleep,” she writes, “I did not have to unravel the madness of what it meant that the person I loved the most in the world was exploiting me, raping me, abusing me.” As Ensler grew into early adulthood and attended college in Vermont, she sought to feel something, anything, in this numbed-out prison her body had become, while also silenc- ing what she didn’t want to feel. She turned to drugs, alcohol, LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 34