As the mother of a teenage girl (and too-soon-to-be-teenage son, too, egads!), I vacillate constantly between nervous fear and proud elation. My daughter is a miracle in so many ways … as soon as she was able to speak (full sentences by 11 months, this wonderchild), the one reply I taught her early was “and I’m smart and strong, too!” for every time someone told her how cute, adorable, pretty, gorgeous she was (and, and of course, still is). And the words were made true. She is all of the above – and then some. She is, after all, an emotional creature …
Eve Ensler became an international force by giving voice to – no other way to say it – vaginas. Her defining one-woman show, The Vagina Monologues, was vaginal empowerment personified. She created V-Day, “a global movement to end violence against women and girls,” and has raised more than $70 million towards that cause.
In her latest creation, Ensler takes on the emotional lives of girls all over the world. “You are one of our greatest natural resources,” she directly addresses the ‘dear emotional creatures.’ “You possess a necessary agency and energy that if unleashed could transform, inspire, and heal the world.” What a rallying peace-cry!
With her signature frankness, Ensler gives voice to the nervous wannabe who doesn’t know what true friendship means, the pregnant teenager who doesn’t know how to tell her mother, a young girl discovering she’s not gay-not straight-she’s “Stephanied,” and a battered fan begging Rihanna to take back her Chris who still loves her even “after one bad thing.”
Out in the world beyond status symbol allure and privileged starvation and self-mutilation, Ensler finds a hopeless prostitute who is nothing more than “only flesh,” a kidnapped rape victim who will take her baby when she flees “because deep down you know she is yours,” a would-be suicide bomber who turns away from making “more missing pieces,” a factory worker mechanically assembling Barbie dolls who reveals that Barbie “feels bad about all the girls who are starved to make her and are starving to be like her,” and a village girl who refuses to be sold to an old man for “five cows and a calf.”
Ensler opens with a disturbingly questioning “You Tell Me How to Be a Girl in 2010,” and ends with a galvanizing and empowering “Epilogue: Manifesta to Young Women and Girls,” that clearly outlines “Here’s What You Will Be Told:” and answers with a defying “Here’s What I’m Telling You.” Girls – and their mothers – need to listen … and then be heard.
This summer, Ensler heads to Poughkeepsie for the Powerhouse theater festival (brought to you by Vassar and NY Stage and Film) to give livetime voice to her emotional creatures. Her work culminates with a free reading the weekend of July 30 to August 1 … mark your calendars. We should all be so lucky to bear witness …
Readers: Young Adult, Adult