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Eve Ensler Calls on Girls to be Their 'Authentic Selves' (Marin Independent Journal)


Originally published in:
Marin Independent Journal
02/23/2012

http://www.marinij.com/lifestyles/ci_20016230

By Vicki Larson

EVE ENSLER WANTS to start a revolution. A girl revolution.

The playwright and author whose play "The Vagina Monologues" sparked a global discussion about violence and launched the V-Day movement, which has raised more than $70 million for anti-violence programs, is worried about today's girls.

Wherever she has traveled, she says, girls are silenced.

"It's one universal story with different manifestations, depending on the class, the culture, the community, the religion: How does the culture in any given place, mutate, censor, undermine, diminish and eradicate girls, and the power of girls?" she asks.

Her book, "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World," features fictional monologues that she says speak to what she's observed about girls all over. High school peer pressure, female genital mutilation, rape, being sold into marriage, self-starvation -- Ensler's writings are "a call to girls, about girls, for girls, around the world, to be their authentic selves."

Ensler comes to Marin on Feb. 24 for a talk, "Eve Ensler In Conversation With Isabel Allende," at Dominican University. Her play "Emotional Creature," based on her book, will have its world premiere in June at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Whether she's in Africa or the suburban malls of America, Ensler says there is an underlying theme in the lives of girls: Pleasing.

"There's an overall mandate that girls are meant to please," she says. "There are so many ways girls are still being pressured to be something else, somebody else's idea of what they should be. How do girls break away from pleasing others?"

She wants to change the verb "to please" to some other verb -- engage or create or educate or imagine. She wants girls to "take responsibility for who you are."

Although there has been somewhat of a power shift in recent years -- there are more women in college and the workplace than ever before, and girls growing up today have many more options than women in the past -- "we have power and we don't have power," Ensler says.

"Girls have a different sense of themselves, they're more liberated and carefree, but in many other ways things are challenging and disturbing," she says.