Friday, May 15, 2015


                                                --  Mohini Dubey* & Ram Krishna Singh**
The paper makes an attempt to analyse and interpret Eve Ensler’s  perception and vision of women’s sex and sexuality, centred round the metaphor of the vagina. It seeks to understand the playwright’s unique feminist view point via the issued related to sexual violence, exploitation, and organized crime against women from America  and Europe to Asia and Africa, and her own political, social and literary activism, as nuanced in The Good Body (2005), The Vagina Monologues (2008), Insecure At Last (2008), and In the Body of the World (2013). She endeavours to create and shape a female discourse of resistance to the violence and brutality that permeates the world today, threatening women’s existence and identity every now and then.  However, it is her vision of women as microcosm of the cosmic energy that makes her different from other feminists. She sensitizes women everywhere to be in harmony with men, nature, society, world, and the universe.

The writer of the Obie award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues (2008), is a feminist activist, who has been advocating the rights of women and girls and making efforts to end the sexual violence, domestic abuse, genital mutilation, and other forms of oppression, perpetrated against the female. Eve Ensler has been raising voice against various parochial bigotries and assault on the female body in the name of race, clan, religion, community, and nationality just as she has been critical of the insular habits and prejudices, as far as the women’s reproductive choices, sexual needs, ostracization, or stigmatization in various parts of the world is concerned.In fact, awareness of women as the hardest hit in various conflict/war zones such as Congo, Bosnia, Croatia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq etc  is crucial to her aesthetic vision, especially as the stories of war sound the same everywhere; only the locations differ, as do the identities of the victims and the aggressors.
In her memoir  In  The  Body  Of  The  World  and  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues, she  speaks  as a woman  for  many  women. As  she  discovers  herself, she  feels  she  is  one  of  many,   a  vaginal  symbol. Her  worldview  integrates  selves  in  sexual  encounters  of  woman  and  man, as  part  of  feminine  wholeness, or  Prakriti. Like  Anais  Nin  she  suffers  cancer  and  undergoes  an  inner  struggle. Despite  immense  physical  pain  and  suffering, her  spirit  remains  serene  and  positive, enabling  her  to  reveal  the  mystery  of  womanhood.
Body   and   Self
In  many  literatures  and  cultures  of  the  world  the body  has  been  given  prime importance. The  Bible  says  ‘Know  thyself’. Knowing  includes  seeing  the  body   naturally,  as  it  is,  with  respect  for  its  outer  and  inner  structures  and  features, knowing  the  physicality  itself. Thus, the  body  becomes  a  tool  to  unravel  the  self  and  the  being  of  women.
Ensler  through  her  oeuvre  indicates  that  the  concrete, tactile  body  is  the  only   means  to  realize  and  acknowledge  existence  of  a  woman. In  the  preface  to   the  play  The  Good  Body  Ensler  quotes  Marion  Woodman, a  great  Jungian  analyst,   saying, “instead  of  transcending  ourselves, we  must  move  into  ourselves.”1
Emphasizing  the  importance  of the body  in  her  memoir  In  The  Body  Of  The  World, Ensler notes, “a  mother’s  body  against  a  child’s  body  makes  a  place. It  says  you  are  here…”2  She  also  points  out  that  the  female  body  is  the  very  cause  of  creation  and  if  treated  badly  it can  turn  into  the  destruction  and  collapse  of  humanity. In her view, the female body is sacrosanct. 
She  emphasizes  different  facets  and  dimensions  of  womanhood  which  includes   woman’s  physical  self, consciousness, and  being, their  relationship  with  other  beings  which  does  not  exclude  men, nature, society, and  world  at  large.
The body  is  divine. It  is  the  gateway  to  know  the  truth  about  the  world. Knowing  includes  the  innermost  physicality  and  divinity  within. Ensler  addresses  herself  to  this  vital  aspect  and  contemplates  that  whatever  wrong  that  happens  to  the  women’s lot  is  the  result  of  their   own  failings.  She  narrates  personal  experiences  of  women  around  the  world  and  concludes   that  there  is  among  women  much  shame, secrecy, and  mystery  surrounding   their   physicality.
Women  do  not  know  themselves. They  do  not  know  their  own  hidden  body  parts. Knowing  the  body  is  to  become  aware  of  it  all  the  time, entering  into  its  complexities  and  demystifying  the  wrong  notions  and  prejudices  that  are   attached  to  it. In   the   preface  to  the   play  The  Good  Body  Ensler  rejects  female  objectification  and  says:
Tell  the  image  makers  and  magazine  sellers  and  the  plastic  surgeons  that  you  are not  afraid. That  what  you  fear  the  most  is  the  death  of  imagination  and  originality and metaphor  and  passion. Then  be  bold  and  LOVE  YOUR  BODY. STOP  FIXING IT. It  was  never  broken.3

One  should  rely  on  one’s  own  experiences  of the body, truth  about  sex  and  sexuality, thereby  shedding  inhibition  and  becoming  free, realizing  the  significance  and  beauty  of  the  body, that  it  is  not  sacrilege. To  know  the  body  is  to  know  the  reality  of  the  world. It  is  the  search  of  a  hermit  for  God,  or the Ultimate  Truth.
Metaphors of  Sex and  Sexuality
Ensler  is  a  pro-sex  feminist  with  a  spiritual  bent  of  mind. She  is  not  against  conjugal  relationship,  which  means  she  does  not  decry  sex. In  one  of  the  monologues  she emphasizes  that  “vagina  is  nude. It  does   not  want  to  wear  anything  anymore”.Sex  is  natural. It  should  be  taken  as  it  is. She  does  not  like  any  kind  of  distortion  to  it. It  already  carries  life  and  beauty. There  is  no  need  for  any  kind  of embellishment  or  affectation. In  the  preface  to    the   play  The  Good  Body  Ensler  says,  “I am  stepping  off  the  capitalist  treadmill. I am  going  to  take  a deep  breath  and  find  a  way  to  survive  not  being  flat  or  perfect, …or  better. I  am  inviting  you  to  join  me, to  stop trying  to  be  anything, anyone  other  than  who  you  are…”4
She  offers  a non-moral  view  of  sex, one  can  have  sex  with  or  without  marriage.  But, one  should  know  its  consequences. So  one  should  not  mistreat  one’s  body,  or  sex. Knowing  the  intricacies  of  sex  means  entering  into  it, exploring  it, experiencing  it,  and  being  aware  of  the  attached  notions  of  sex  and  sexuality, saying  what  happens  to  the  body  when  it  undergoes  sensory  experiences,  to  its  response  to  all that.
She  explores  how  physicality  leads  to  creativity  and  divinity  at  the  end; how  female  stands  in  relation  to  male; how  they  become  the  balance  point  of  each  other; and  how  this  harmony  between  the  two  ultimately  brings  harmony  to  the  universe. In her feminist belief, sex  is  not  bad; talking  about  it  and  knowing  it  is  basically   broadening  one’s  understanding  of  life.  Talking  and  knowing  about  sex  and  sexuality  is  not  something  to  be  ashamed  of. It  is rather the  most  pious  reality  and  truth  to  be  explored  about  the  world, culture, civilization, and  humanity.
She stresses the need for making women  shun  all  the  wrong  notions  ( like  looking  down  upon  one’s  body  parts, and  to  have  hesitation,  shame  or  inhibitions  about  one’s  sexuality) about  physicality, sex  and  sexuality. One  has  to  rely  on  one’s  own  observations  and  experiences  about  life. In  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues  Ensler  reveals  the  fact  about  female  nature  of  seeking  pleasure  in  coition:
The  clitoris  is  pure  in  purpose. It  is  the  only  organ  in  the  body  designed  purely for  pleasure. The  clitoris  is  simply   a  bundle  of  nerves: 8,000  nerve  fibres, to  be precise. That’s  a  higher  concentration  of  nerve  fibres  than  is  found  anywhere  else in  the  body, including  the  fingertips, lips, and  tongue, and  it  is  twice…twice…twice  the  number  in  the  penis. Who  needs  a  handgun  when  you’ve  got  a Semiautomatic.5

The monologues are vignettes, glimpses into the secrets and pleasures of women-types. Each one explores one specific aspect of the vagina, metaphorically, one specific issue  related  to  women’s  sexuality. She  talks  about  hair, adrenalin, menstruation, sex, incest, female  genital  mutilation,  masturbation, rape, pleasure, discovery, moans, female power, derision  against    objectification  of  female  body, lesbian  experiences, sex  outside  of  marriage, redeeming  the  word  ‘Cunt’ of  its  derogatory  designation  through  reclaiming  it  as  an  emblem  of  female  power  and  energy, and   the  difficult  experience  of   parturition. The monologues also offer comic descriptions of what we call vaginas, such as what they would wear if they got dressed, and what they would say if they talked.
 Her  focus  is  not  only  to address women’s self-hatred and fear of their bodies but also  to break through the American culture’s taboo about discussing vaginas. Ensler was inspired by a conversation with a friend who was in menopause, and made self-loathing comments about  her vagina. In her own New Age feminist style, she crusades to erase the shame surrounding female genitals. She deserves credit for presenting female sexuality and the vagina in a more vocal way than has been done before, especially in mainstream theatre performance.

Ensler’s exploration of   sex, which is the investigation of everything,   is  akin  to  the  Chinese  philosophy  of  Yin-Yang:She stresses how  apparently  opposite  or  contrary  forces  are  actually  complementary, interconnected, and  interdependent  in  the  natural  world, and  how  they  give  rise  to  each  other  as  they  interrelate  to  one  another. Male  and  female  are  thought  of  as  physical  manifestations  of  the  duality  of  Yin-Yang; the  feminine  and  masculine  principles  are  the  two  opposing  cosmic  forces  into   which  creative  energy  divides  and  whose  fusion  in  physical  matter  brings  the  phenomenal  world  into  being. Thus, men  and  women  together  create  new  generations  that  allow  the  race  they  mutually  create,  and  come  from,  to  survive. They  transform  each  other  as they  interact.   What matters is the  balance  between  Yin  and  Yang  qualities  within  oneself  that  is  necessary   to  retain  inner  peace  and   harmony. If  Yin  and  Yang  become  imbalanced,  one  of  the  qualities  is  considered  deficient  or  has  vacuity.”6
So,  the  quintessential  truth  about  sex  is  that  both  male  and  female  are  part  of  a  whole  and  their  sole  aim  is  to  create. Both  of  them  are  prominent  and  essential  as  they  lead  toward  creation  and  sustenance  of  human  civilization. They  have  to  be  in  balance  with  each  other, in  balance  with  other  beings, and  in  balance  with  the  universe. In fact, etymologically  the  word  Vagina  has  its  origin  from  a  word  meaning  sheath  and  sword. It  upholds  the  male and  creates,   and  there  will be  imbalance  if  they  are  bifurcated  because  it  is  the  union  of  the  two  energies  or  forces  both  the  male  and  the  female  that  was  there  since  the  inception  of  humanity  and  is  the  very  cause  of  creation.
Women’s  Consciousness   and   the  World
What  Ensler’s  point  is  that  women  stand  in  relation  to  the  world  in  which  they  live. Whatever  wrong  that  happens  outside  affects  women  at  domestic  level. Since the US and its allies decided that Iraqis needed a regime change, for instance, women there have had to  contend with abductions, death, torture, forced marriages, rape, and sexual violence of all sorts. Sexual  violence  against  women  is  pervasive  in  places  like  Congo, Bosnia, Shabunda, Bunyakiri, Goma, Bukavu, Afghanistan, and   Iraq. As  a  social  activist Ensler believes  in  social  reform.  She  is  pro-poor and  seeks  to  transform  the  world  to    a   better  and  safer  place  for  women, particularly the down trodden oneswho  work  as  labourers  and  are  being  physically  and  sexually  exploited  and  raped, women who  are  underpaid  for  their  services  and    deprived   of  civic  amenities.
Ensler  cherishes  the  dream  when  these  underpaid  people  would be  paid  the  most  and  would  be  free from  sexual  slavery. In  her  Memoir  In  The  Body  Of  The  World  she  shows  a  Leftist  leaning.  While  lying   in  the  hospital  bed  she comes  across  a  nurse  named  Cindy  who  is  not  paid  for  the  services  that  she  provides  to the  patients. Ensler  broods  over  this  injustice  and  wishes  that  when  the  world  is  right  then  these  people  will be  on  the  top. She  waits  for  the  day  when  women  will  indulge  in  social  and  political  affairs  and  will  drift  away  from  all that  limits  their  inner  and  outer  growth. In  the  preface  to  the  play  The  Good  Body  Ensler  says:
This  play  is  my  prayer, my  attempt  to  analyse  the  mechanisms  of  our imprisonment, to  break  free  so  that  we  may  spend  more  time  running the  world  than  running  away  from  it; so  that  we  may  be  consumed  by  the sorrow  of  the  world  rather  than  consuming  to  avoid  that  sorrow  and suffering…. 7

Upliftment  of  humanity  lies  in  the upliftment  of  the  soul  of  an  individual. In  the  introduction   to  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues  Ensler  says, “the  trick  has  been  to  live  in  the  contradictions  while  maintaining  principles, beliefs, and  purposes…”8 Thus,  she  indicates  to  women  to  never  let  themselves  down  or  feel  disheartened  while  surrounded  with  problems.Rather  one  should  have  the  courage  to  surpass  everything  that  least  matters  and  is  harmful  in  achieving   full  growth  of  one’s  personality  and  evolution  of  one’s  spirit. 
Ensler  believes  in  human  goodness  and  meaningful  existence. Compassion  and  hard  work  are  the  keys  through  which  the society  and  world  would  become  a  better  place  to  live  and  grow. In  the  Memoir  In  The  Body  Of  The  World  she  cites  the  example  of  Muhammad  Ali and  says:
I put on my signed Muhammad  Ali  gloves. I  box  with  myself  in  the  mirror. I watch When  We  Were  Kings  for  the  sixth  time. Kinshasa. Ali  and  Foreman. The Rumble  in  the  Jungle. Biggest  upset  in   history. That’s  what  I’m  going  for. It  was Ali’s  staying  power. Foreman  was  young.  He  gave  him  everything  he  had  in  the  first  round, just  like  this  infection. Ali  stayed  on  the  ropes  absorbing  the  hundreds of  blows  to  his  body. Even  Ali’s  greatest  supporters  had  their  money  on  Foreman. But  he  was  fighting  for  other  things, bigger  things. He  dropped  Foreman  in  the Eighth  round.9

            Thus  Ali  through  his  perseverance  and  endurance  won  the  battle  against  Foreman.  Ali  outlived  hundreds  of  blows  of  bad  fortune  because  he  was  fighting  for  other  things, bigger  things.
Reality  has  to  be  accepted  as  it  is.  One  should  not  be  passive  or  inactive. One should make efforts to transform  ones  situation,  to  flourish, to  grow  as  oneself.  She  believes  in  losing  everything  to  achieve  ones  own  identity  and  self. Suffering  least  matters:“ …it’s  one  of  those  almost  impossible  photographs  where  time  has  stopped.Ali  is  standing, Foreman  is  on  the  ground.  Ali  has  clearly  won,  but  it’s  not  the  glory  that  hits  you, it’s  the  shock  and  the  stagger  of  the  struggle…”10
Likewise  Ensler  ponders  over  death  and  love.  She  suggests  not  to  be  afraid  of  anything  and  to  abandon  everything  for  the  greater  love,  that  is,  love  for  the  entire  humanity,  and  particularly  women. She  quotes, “Live  as  if  you  were  already  dead.’ Zen admonition.”11 Further  she  insists, “ Your  dying,  my  dying  is  necessary  and  irrelevant  and  inevitable.  Do  not  be  afraid, no, death  will not  be  our  end.  Indifference  will be,  dissociation  will be…”12
Ensler’s  belief  about  love  is  also  idiosyncratic. She  loves  humanity  and  especially  women. It  is  just  an  elevation  of   love   to    higher  plane  and  greater  ends.  She   says:
Now  I  see  my  fear  was  not  about  sex. It  was  about  being  caught, determined, lined up. It  was  about  being  cornered  in  the  love  stall. It  was  about  packaged  love, couple  love, dead-and-done-with-permanently-in-the-house-with-the-children  love. About  love  that  screamed  isolation  and  church  and  control. That  screamed,”care about  your  own, protect your  lot.” About  parsed-out  love  and  regulated  love  and prevented  love.13

All  her  values  are  aimed  at  social  good  and  benevolence  toward  women. One  can  trace  strong  influence  of  Oriental  Philosophy  and  Religion  on  Eve  Ensler’s consciousness. She  believes  in  the principles  of  Buddhist  Philosophy  and  Hinduism. She  refers  to  Hindu  Goddess  Kali  and  Buddhist  Goddess  Tara. “Tara  who  came  through  Buddha’s  heart  and  appeared  in  a  woman’s  body.” Kali  stands  for  female  sexual  power  which  controls  the  creation  and  destruction  of  humanity.
            In  Foreword  to  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues,  Gloria  Steinem mentions  that  in  Hindu  Religious  Culture   in  ancient  times  women  were  being    worshipped  as  a  vaginal  symbol  in  temples. The  oval  shaped  structure  that  holds  Lingam  half  inside  and  half  outside  is  the  Vagina.  It  is  because  of  patriarchal  domination  over  matriarchy  that  made  it  shift  to  the  Tantric  practice  and  Occultism  which  is  again  not  included  in    the  mainstream  Hindu  Religion. Then  she  goes  on  explaining   how  several  religious  temples  around  the  world  resemble  female  anatomy  and    modelled  vagina  in  their  texture  and  sculpture.
The  basic  agenda  and  strategy  of  the  playwright  in  writing  and  performing  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues  has  been  to awaken people by giving them a  shock.. On  being  asked  how    she  had been  working  to  overcome  objections  to  the  play  by  religious  communities  in  order  to  move  V-Day  forward, Eve Ensler  responded to the questioner, “ well, the  people  who  seem  to  be  opposed  to  the  play, in  my  experience, are  usually  people  who  haven’t  been  to  it. So, part  of  what  we  have  been  working  on  is  inviting  people  to  come  before  they  have  objections….”14
The playwright’s  aim  is  to  make  people  aware  of  the  issues  related  to  women  and  expose  their  perception  about  female  sex and sexuality, as also to  make  them  accept  a  new  belief  and  value. She  is  not  against  religion. Her  aim  is  to  make  one  think.In an interview with Carolyn Roark, Ensler defends Vagina monologues saying, “Part of what we are trying to do here is that the vagina is sacred, is honoured, is to be cherished and is to be protected, and so in some ways, we are not at all at odds with the Church or any church. I think that our differences are that we believe in speaking about it openly and it is important because where things remain hidden, and dark, and isolated, usually abuse occurs and usually some forms of perversion occur.”
Ensler as a social activist visited  university  dormitories  and  pleaded  to  turn  those  places  Rape  Free  Zones. As she  believes, “ the  task   of  all  Christians  is  to  work  toward  the  end  of  violence  because  all of  us  as  God’s  children  deserve  to  live  in  a  safer  world….”15 Ensler  looks  forward  to greater  tolerance  and acceptance of  differences  of  thoughts. 
Social Concerns  
Ensler  condemns  rich  people, industrialists, corrupt  politicians, and  corporations  that pillage  African  nations  of  their  oil, gold, minerals,  and  crops  and   that  are  indifferent  toward  native  people’s  suffering. Instead   super powers  send  militaries  to  rape  women  there, as in Congo.
She  decries  the  monopoly  of  a powerful section that has   access to  and  privilege  over  wealth  and  the  rest of  the  people are condemned to suffer  perpetual   poverty  and  hunger. Ensler  draws  attention  to  the  issues  related  to  women  where  one  out  of  three  women  will  be  raped  and  beaten  up  around  the  planet.
She thinks  that  change  is  necessary. In  fury  she  envisages    uprising, bloodshed  and  revolution. But   this  is  against  her  humanitarian  values. So, she  wants  transformation  in  the  situation  of  women with change in mind and attitude.  In  the  play  The  Vagina  Monologues  she  expresses her  concern  for  women,   finding   it  bizarre  that  they  were  being  raped  and  mutilated  in  Bosnia in  the  Middle  of  Europe  in  1993  through  a  systematic  tactic  of  war  and  none  of  the  institutions, people, organizations, and  nations  paid any attention to   their  insuperable  plight. She  spent  two  months  in  Croatia  and  Pakistan  in  1994,  interviewing  Bosnian  women  refugees  and  rape  survivors  of  1993. She  says:
When  I  returned  to  New  York  after  my  first  trip, I  was  in  a  state  of  outrage. Outraged  that  20,000  to  70,000  women  were  being  raped  in  the  middle  of Europe  in  1993, as  a  systematic  tactic  of  war, and  no  one  was  doing  anything to  stop  it. I  couldn’t  understand  it. A  friend  asked  me  why  I  was  surprised. She said  that  over  500,000  women   were  raped  every  year  in  this  country, and  in theory  we  were  not  at  war.16
Ensler seeks to   free  women of  sexual  slavery which is possible with   each  woman’s  personal  growth.Women   should  be  actively  involved  in  public  affairs  rather  than  sitting   back  at  home.  They  have  to  actively contribute  to the processes of social change as independent   individuals, rather than be satisfied with   marriage  and  parturition.
Wherever  war  occurs  it  harms  women  to  a  great  extent. Women  are  being  physically  and  sexually  exploited  in  countries of  Eastern  Europe, West Asia, Africa, and  Middle  East  due  to  war.  It  is  not  only  that  their  bodies and sex organs  are  being  mutilated or distorted. Distortion  extends  to  the  level  of  their  self  and  being.  Their  body  is  dislocated  and  their  soul  splits  off. Ensler  interviewed  Bosnian  rape  survivors  and  was  in  awe  of  their  spirit  and  strength, “  My  vagina  a  live  wet  water  village. They  invaded  it. Butchered  it  and  burned  it  down. I  do  not  touch  now.  Do  not  visit. I  live  someplace  else  now. I  don’t  know  where  that  is.”17
Sexual  and  physical  abuse  splinters  their  psyche. She believes that women’s  emancipation  lies  in  their  self- empowerment. They  have  to  be  self- reliant  and  have  to  shun  self-pity  and  self-hatred. They  have  to  overcome  their  victimhood  and  have  to  struggle  for  their  survival. Women  have  to  come  out  of  the  shell of  propaganda  and  accept  reality  as  it  is.  Through  their  own  efforts  they  have  to  undo  the  wrong  that  happens  to  them.
Ensler also understands that violence  leads  to  spiritual  degeneration  of  both  the    perpetrator  and  the  victim. In  order  to  live  with  the  guilt  of  the  wrong  that  is  done  to  harm  someone’s  person,  the  perpetrator  has  to  turn  into  “the  other”. In  the  same  way  to  bear the  pain  being  inflicted  , the  victim’s  personality  splits off.  Violence   degrades  the  self  and  harms  both  of  them.18
Yet, Ensler  envisions  a  better  future  for  women. She  has  established  sanctuaries  to  save  female  species  from  extinction.  She  has  established  City  Of  Joy  in  the  Congo  for  empowering  women.  She   says:
We  are  the  people  of  the  second  wind. We, who  have  been  undermined, reduced, and  minimized, we  know  who  we  are. Let  us  be  taken. Let  us  turn  our  pain  to power, our  victimhood  to  fire, our  self-hatred  to  action, our  self-obsession  to  service, to  fire,, to wind. Wind. Wind. Be  transparent  as  wind, be   as  possible  and  relentless and  dangerous, be  what  moves  things  forward  without  needing  to  leave  a  mark, be part  of  this collection  of  molecules  that  begins  somewhere  unknown  and   can’t  help but  keep  rising. Rising. Rising. Rising.19
The second  wind  is  symbolic  of  recuperation  and  revival  of  the  self  to  transmute  bad  into  good, worse  into  better  and  beautiful,  and  ultimately  to  change  society  for  the  common  good,  to  transform  the  world  seeking  welfare  of  all  humans,  including  women.
Ensler’s Vision
WaThiong’ONgugi,  one  of  the  most  prominent  Kenyan  writers  of  contemporary  African  Literature, in  his  book  Decolonising  The  Mind, mentions  that  all  human  beings  are  born  in  a  situation  that  to  a  great  extent  determines  their  being. One  faces  nature  and  other  humans  as  two  forces  that  influence  one’s  understanding  of  human  situation. These  two  forces  in  turn  are  responsible  for  the  making  and  unmaking  of  the  self  of  an  individual. It  is  encountering  these  two  forces  and  evolving  out  to  be  oneself  that  determines  one’s  being  and  self  into  the  world.20
Ensler   focuses  her  attention  on  everything  including  human  relations, nature, society, and  the world  at  large. That  is  how  one  discovers  one’s  own  worth  as  an  evolving  entity. It  is  in  relation  to  the  other  that  one  defines  oneself, and connects.A  tree  by  the  hospital  window  where  she  was  being  treated  for  cancer  turned   out  to  be  the  point  of  connection  and  meditation as  mentioned  in  her memoir.  She  associates  infection  in her  liver  with  the  gulf  oil  spill  of  Mexico  destroying  sea  life. She  says:
As  Michaela  washes  my  naked  head, I  realize  this  water  holds  the  best  and  the worst  of  us. The  greed, and  the  recklessness  that  led  to  the  drilling  explosion, and  all  the  lies  that  got  told  before  and  after. It’s  the  gulf  that  I  swam  in  at the  age  of  sixteen  reciting  T.S.Eliot’s “The  Love  Song  of  J. Alfred  Prufrock.” The gulf  where  both  my  parents  died, their  last  gaze  directed  out  on  that  horizon. It’s the  gulf, the  wide  hole, between  my  mother  and  me. The  gulf  dividing  tribes,  Families, continents, and  colours. The  gulf  washing  over  my  head, melting  in Michaela’s lap, suddenly  indistinguishable  from  my  salty  tears.21
She  goes  on  reflecting  human  relations. Her  relationship  with  her  father , Arthur, who  molested  her; her  relationship  with  her  mother, Chris,  who  made  her  feel  alienated; her  relationship  with  Laura, her  sister,  who  did  not  undergo   childhood  abuse  like  Ensler did; her  relationship  with  her  brother, Curtis, her  stepson Dylan, her  daughter-in-law  Shiva, and  her  granddaughter,  Coco. Ensler  reflects  her  relationship  with  Coco  and  says,  “ she  once  told  me  I was  “her  person”  and  she  was  mine”….not  merged  so  much, but  joined  in  affinity, in  worldview, in  energy, in  lifetime  of  connections…”22
She  extends  this  relationship  to  the  women  of  Congo, Shabunda, Bunyakiri, Kosova, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and  Goma,  considers  them  as  her  own  tribe,    wants  to  save  them  from  sexual  violence,  and    make  them  sexually  free.
Spiritual influence
Stressing her essentially spiritual being, she observes: “What I believe is that we have this extraordinary spirit inside ourselves, which for me is our Buddha nature. I believe we are in the process of opening and getting closer and closer to our Buddha nature and stripping away all that is covering it….I think to be honest, that being is inside.” She  refers  to  the  five  elements,  namely  Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spiritual Sky or Akash and  how  these  fractions  of  molecules  are  the  catalyst  to  form  the  matter,  or  Rupa. They   uphold  this  very  Body,  Soul,  Self,  Being,  and  Consciousness  of  every  human  being.
In  Buddhist  philosophy  it  has  incorporated  all  these  elements  as  the  basis  for  understanding  that  leads  one  through  unbinding  of  ‘Rupa’ or  materiality  to  the  supreme  state  of  pure  emptiness  or  ‘Nirvana.’ Our  body  or  any  solid  material  is  the  physical  manifestation  or  ‘Rupa’  born  out  of  these  great   elements. The  result  of  these  qualities  are  the  inputs  to  our  five  senses, colour, smell, taste, and  sensations  of  body. The  matter  that  is  perceived  in  the  mind  is  just  a  mental  interpretation  of  these  qualities.
But the  matter  is  not   something  that  is  constitutive  of  external  mind-independent  reality.  It  is  how  one  perceives  or  meditates  through  mindfulness.
“just  as  if   a skilled  butcher  or   his  assistant,  having   slaughtered  a  cow, were  to  sit  at  a  crossroads  with  the  carcass  divided  into  portions, so  a  monk  reviews  this  very  body…in  terms  of  the  elements: ‘ there  are  in  this  body  the  earth  element, the  water  element, the  fire  element, the  air  element’, so  he  abides  contemplating  in  body  internally…”23
Not  only  one  body  but  all  the  other  bodies  and    creatures  and  living  beings  are  born  out  of   the  synthesis  of  these  great   elements. Ensler  indicates  these  elements  as  the  energy  that  propels  her  around  the  planet  looking  for  human  connections. The Body  is  not  something  derogatory. It  should  not  be  desecrated.  Rather it  is  the  means  to  attain  spirituality  and  to  know  the    truths  of  life.
It  is  the  centre  of  women’s  existence  and  the   way  home  for  them. She  juxtaposes  the deadly  disease  cancer  that  has  invaded  her  body  with  all the  wrong   and  horrendous  acts  of  violence  that  is  perpetrated  against  women  in  the  Congo  and  around  the  world. She  elevates  this  crisis  of  the  female  body  to  the  spiritual  plane . The cancer  of   the  body  and the  acute  danger  surrounding  female  existence  work  as  a  talisman  for  Ensler. Throughout  this  process of  love  and  care  she  realizes  that   millions  of  women  are  in  dire  need  of  cure, love  and  respect. Women   are   in   need  to  be  rescued  and  conserved.
However,  there  has  to  be  radical  change  in  women’s  attitude  and  perspective  to  view  themselves  in  relation  to  their  body  and  the  world  outside. They  will have  to  view  their  body  as  important,  not  bad. They  are  in  need  of  company  of  other  self –conscious women. It  is  basically  seeking  a  way  home  as  one  is  comfortable  with  one’s  own  body  and  being.
There  are  innumerable  possibilities  awaiting. This  harmony  within  female  community  will  bring  other  beings  in  harmony  and  finally  will culminate  in  a  balanced  human  existence,   balanced  world,  and  a  balanced  universe.
Eve Ensler  is  a  feminist  in  her  own  right. She is  her  own  brand. She  seeks  sexual  freedom  for  women. Sex  is  biological  and  it  should  not  take one   into  dark  corners.  She  talks  about  sex  in  concrete  and  clinical  terms  to  shed  all  the  taboos  and  prejudices. Through  several  religious, cultural, and  literary  anecdotes  she  emphasizes  the  significance  of  female  power  and  their  crucial  role  in    society.   Women  stand  in  relation  with  men,  nature,  society,  world, and  the  universe. They  are  the  very  centre  of  creation  and  destruction  of  humanity.
Finally,  women  are  their  own  revolution. They  carry  inside  them  that  sparkling  light, that  ultimate  consciousness  which  can  vanquish  the  hard  shell  of  the  lesser  self  and  transform  them  into  a  fully  conscious  being. This  is  what  Ensler  believes  and  she  wants  women  to  be  their  own  Messiah. They  can  change  themselves  through  realizing  their  fully  grown  Buddha  nature and  it  is  in  the  process  of  knowing  themselves  that  they  will surely  come  to  know  the  reality  about  the  world. Thus  Ensler’s  approach  is  self- emancipatory.
Eve  Ensler  speaks  with  the  voice  of  a  world  citizen  who  places  her  personal, racial, and  national  experience  within  the  context  of  the  human  experiences  as  a  whole. She  shares  her  self-discovery  with  every  woman  who  is  persuaded  to  explore  her  inner  body, mind, and  self  for  emancipation  from  physical  exploitation  and  sufferings  on  the  one  hand  and  ignorance, prejudices, and  fears  on  the  other.
Ensler’s  apparent  physical  agenda  is  in  fact  her  spiritual  agenda  culminating  in  the  Buddhist  sanctuaries  for  empowering  women  inwardly  with  a  sense  of  pride  in  their  sex  and  sexuality  and  inner  freedom  to  view  themselves  and  the  universe  in  accordance  with  each  other ever-expanding, ever-rising, and ever-evolving.
She understands the truth of her being by living the questions she raises. Her bodily adventure is to realize the spiritually illuminating ‘sat-chit-ananda’.  She seeks ‘bliss’ (ananda) boldly, without fear as it brings her, and every woman, both her consciousness (chit) and her being (sat). She speaks with awareness of her ‘core’ or ‘centre’, metaphorically ‘vagina’,  which is inside her, and knows when one is on the beam or off the beam, that is, when one stays in the centre, one has one’s bliss.

Works  Cited
1Ensler, Eve.The  Good  Body. United  Kingdom: Arrow  Books, 2005. p. xiii. Print.
2Ensler, Eve. In  The  Body  of  The  World. Noida: Random  House, 2013. p.1. Print.
3Eve  Ensler, op. cit. p. xiii.
4 ibid, p. xiii
5Ensler, Eve. The  Vagina  Monologues. New  York: Villard  Books, 2008. p.51. Print.
6Wikipedia contributors. “Yin and yang.” Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia the  free encyclopedia, last modified on 09/04/2015, at 14:04. Web. accessed  on25/02/2015 on 11 Apr. 2015.
7Ensler, Eve. The  Good  Body. United  Kingdom: Arrow  Books, 2005. p. xii. Print.
8Ensler, Eve. The  Vagina  Monologues. New  York: Villard  Books, 2008. p. xiii. Print.
9Ensler, Eve. In  The  Body  of  The  World. Noida: Random  House, 2013. p.73. Print.
10ibid, p.110.
11ibid, p.210.
12ibid, p.212.
13ibid, p.167.
14Roark, D.Carolyn.’Interview  With  Eve  Ensler’, Baylor  University: p. 36. Web. accessed  on 12/12/2014
15ibid, pp. 36, 37.
16Ensler, Eve. The  Vagina  Monologues. New  York: Villard  Books, 2008. p.60. Print.
17ibid, p.63.
18Roark, D.Carolyn.’Interview  With  Eve  Ensler’, Baylor  University:  p.36. Web. accessed  on 12/12/2014
19Ensler, Eve. In  The  Body  of  The  World. Noida: Random  House, 2013. pp.216,217. Print.
20WaThiong'o, Ngugi. Decolonising The Mind. 2007. Delhi, India: Worldview Publications, 2007. 114. Print.
21Eve  Ensler. op. cit. pp.176, 177.
22ibid, p.96, 97.
23Wikipedia contributors. "Mahābhūta." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed  on 28/02/2015, modified on  8 Feb. 2015. Web.  Retrieved   on 11 Apr. 2015.

*M.Phil Researcher;
**Professor of English, Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad 826004, India

Published in Modern Research Studies, Vol.2, Issue 2, June 2015, pp. 248-263


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