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Girl Power Can Save the World by Eve Ensler (CNN)


Originally published in:
CNN.com
02/02/2010


http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/02/02/ensler.TED.talk.girl.power/index.h...

Editor's note: Eve Ensler wrote the play "The Vagina Monologues" and founded V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day has funded more than 11,000 community-based anti-violence programs and launched safe houses in the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Ensler's book, "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World," will be released February 9 by Villard/Random House. Ensler spoke at the TED India conference in November 2009. For more TED Talks, click here.

(CNN) -- The future is "girl." Imagine girl is a cell that each of us -- boys and girls -- are born with. Imagine this girl cell is central to the evolution of our species and an assurance of the continuation of the human race.

Now imagine that a few powerful people, invested in owning this world, understood that the oppression of this cell was key to retaining their power, so they reinterpreted this cell, undermining its value and making us believe that it is weak. They initiated a process to crush, eradicate, annihilate, humiliate, belittle, censor, reduce and kill off the girl cell.

This was called patriarchy.

Imagine girl is a chip in the huge microcosm of our collective consciousness, which is essential to the balance, wisdom and future of humanity.

Imagine that girl is the part of each of us that feels compassion, empathy, passion, intensity, association, relationship, emotion, play, resistance, vulnerability, intuitive intelligence, vision.

Imagine that compassion informs wisdom. That vulnerability is our greatest strength. That emotions have inherent logic and lead to radical saving action.

Now remember that those in power essentially taught us and conditioned us to believe the opposite:

Compassion clouds your thinking.

Vulnerability is weakness.

Emotions are not to be trusted.

Don't take things personally.

To be a boy means not to be a girl.

To be a man means not to be a girl.

To be strong means not to be a girl.

To be a woman means not to be a girl.

To be a leader means not to be a girl.

It must be very powerful to be a girl if everyone Is taught not to be one.

Having traveled the planet for 12 years, visiting more than 60 countries and living in the rape mines of the world, I have been with girls. I have witnessed their realities.

I have seen girls with knife wounds and cigarette burns, treated like garbage, beaten by their brothers and fathers and boyfriends and mothers, starving themselves to death to look the way they are supposed to look -- which is close to invisible.

We are so accustomed to prohibiting girls from being the subjects of their own life that we have turned them into objects: commodities in the marketplace, bodies to be bought and sold and plundered and married off or raped in war. Buying a girl is cheaper than buying a cow in many places.

I have been with boys as well, watched as they have been ridiculed, censored and abused for their tenderness, their doubts, their grief, their need for comfort and protection. I have seen how the tyranny of masculinity has forced boys and then men to cut off their hearts and cast them into a brutal, lonely state of disassociation and isolation.

The state of girl, the condition of girl -- in the world and in us -- will determine if this species survives.

I believe unleashing the intensity of girl, the outrage of girl, the passion of girl, is the only way to chip away the thick sludge of denial, oppression and indifference that has led to our insane acceptance of a world spinning us toward our end.

What I have witnessed across this planet is the wild natural resiliency, fierceness, grace and nobility of girl.

The girl cell is our greatest resource, a renewable, untapped energy field like the wind. It is there for us, if we activate it and allow it to resist, dare, challenge, feel and connect.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eve Ensler.