What Makes Eve Ensler Ill: Cancer or the Congo?

I just found out that Eve Ensler has uterine cancer. Her prognosis, she reports, is good, but uterine cancer is nothing to fool around with. If caught early, 5-year survival rates can be as high as 96%. Ensler does not share at which stage her cancer was detected. At any rate, she has been through hell physically for the past few months. But, she insists, it is nothing compared to the hell she goes through every time she hears of the latest atrocities being committed in the Congo.

In her article, which appeared in several newspapers simultaneously, she writes:

The stories of continued rapes, machete killings, grotesque mutilations, outright murdering of human rights activists – these images and events create nausea and weakness much worse than chemo or antibiotics or pain meds ever could. But even harder to deal with, in the weakened state that I have been in, is knowing that despite the ongoing horrific atrocities that have taken the lives of more than 6 million people and left more than 500,000 women and girls raped and tortured, the international power elite appear to be doing nothing.

She describes all the attempts she and her foundation, V-Day, have made to interest world leaders in the plight of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and how those appeals have fallen on deaf ears. When she appeals to Michelle Obama (through a high-end official), she is told that “femicide was not her ‘brand.’ Mrs. Obama was focusing on childhood obesity.” (Ensler’s reaction? “It surprised me that a woman with her capabilities lacked ambidextrous skills.”)

I realize that the U.S., or any one entity, for that matter, can’t solve all the world’s problems. But does that mean that we should ignore them? Women and children are the real victims of war. But the revenge-rapes and brutal massacres, not to mention being left without husbands and fathers, are largely written off as “collateral damage.” The death of soldiers is tragic enough, but women and children don’t even have any means of defending themselves.

If the Congo were in our own back yard, we might be moved to do something about the conditions there. But because it is half a world away, we  feel that we can put it out of our minds. But Eve Ensler, even though you might think she has more important things to worry about, can’t put it out of hers.

For more background on the situation in the DRC, read Ensler’s article from a year ago, “An apathetic, greedy west has abandoned war-torn Congo.”

What Is V-Day?

V-Day is a global movement that supports anti-violence organizations throughout the world, helping them to continue and expand their core work on the ground, while drawing public attention to the larger fight to stop worldwide violence (including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual slavery) against women and girls. V-Day exists for no other reason than to stop violence against women. In ten years, the V-Day movement has raised over $70 million. V-Day was named one of Worth magazine’s “100 Best Charities” in 2001 and Marie Claire’s “Top Ten Charities” in 2006.

Poster for Nepal's First V-Day

V-Day stages large-scale benefits and produces innovative gatherings, films and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women. Some of the highlights include the December 2003 V-Day delegation trip to Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan; the Afghan Women’s Summit; the V-Day documentary Until the Violence Stops, which premiered at Sundance in 2004; the March for the Missing and Murdered Women of Juarez; the March 2004 delegation to India; the Stop Rape Contest, the Indian Country Project, Love Your Tree, and the V-Day: UNTIL THE VIOLENCE STOPS festivals. In 2008, V-Day celebrated its 10-year anniversary with V TO THE TENTH at the New Orleans Arena and Louisiana Superdome, featuring two days of speakers, art, performances, and wellness programs which were attended by over 30,000 women and men and raised over $700,000 for local efforts in New Orleans to end violence against women and girls.

In 2008, more than 4000 V-Day benefit events – produced by local volunteer activists and performed in theaters, community centers, houses of worship, and college campuses – took place around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls and raising funds for local groups within their communities.

To find V-Day events in your community, go here.

For more information about V-Day, go here.

By the way, the ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina!

Meet Eve Ensler

The following is copied from vday.org:

Eve Ensler

EVE ENSLER, playwright, performer, and activist, is the author of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, translated into over 45 languages and performed in over 130 countries, including sold-out runs at both Off-Broadway’s Westside Theater and on London’s West End (2002 Olivier Award nomination, Best Entertainment.) Her experience performing THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Ms. Ensler’s performance in THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES can be seen in the HBO original documentary of the play (2002).

Ms. Ensler has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive. THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is based on Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength.

Continue reading “Meet Eve Ensler”