“In the Body of the World”: Eve Ensler Reconnects With Herself

“When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet.” Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues, and author of new memoir In the Body of the World

Eve Ensler knew a lot about women’s bodies and their connection to the world when…

  • …she wrote The Vagina Monologues.
  • …she wrote The Good Bodyas well as other plays and books.
  • …she advocated for so many women and girls all over the world who’ve suffered various forms of physical and sexual victimization.

But Ensler remained disconnected from her own body. Why? In large part because of being sexually abused by her father in childhood.

A couple years ago, Ensler offered in her TED Talk this tidbit about that past self: “I actually had a therapist who once said to me, ‘Eve, you’ve been coming here for two years, and, to be honest, it never occurred to me that you have a body.'”

Now Ensler, in her new memoir In the Body of the World, fills us in on a recent and significant personal change. Getting diagnosed with uterine cancer a few years ago has forced her into an awareness of her body she’d never had before.

Furthermore, her publisher states, “As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.”

Publishers Weekly, in its In the Body of the World review, provides more details related to this transition:

At the age of 57, she was blindsided when she discovered that her own health emergency mimicked the ones that women were enduring in the developing countries she had visited: ‘the cancer of cruelty, the cancer of greed… the cancer of buried trauma.’ Her narrative, she writes, is like a CAT scan, ‘a roving examination—capturing images,’ recording in minute, raw detail the ordeals she underwent over seven months. These include her crazed, ‘hysterical’ response to the diagnosis and her treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as well as extensive surgery, chemo, radiation, and caring by a ‘posse’ of companions in misery, like her estranged sister, Lu, and far-flung friends such as Mama C, the head of the City of Joy women’s center in the Congo. Her anatomy of the invasion of women’s bodies is often difficult to read; the lesson she learns is that in order to heal, she has to submit her body to a renewed source of love and joy.

Ensler explains to interviewer Marianne SchnallThe Huffington Post, that her own story is a variation on a theme common to many who “leave home” for various reasons and who try any number of ways to reconcile this:

I think what the book is really about is how we can be forced to leave our bodies at a young age, how exiled we are from our bodies, due to whatever the circumstances are. In my case, it was enormous abuse and violation. But I think many ‘leave home.’ For me, so much of my life has been this attempt to find my way back into my body. I tried various forms, from promiscuity, to eating disorders, to performance art. And I think it wasn’t until I got cancer, where I was suddenly being pricked and ported and chemoed and operated on, that I suddenly just became body. I was just a body. And it was in that, in that finally landing in myself that I really discovered the world in my body. That world where we are connected.

Below the author puts a face to what her memoir is all about:

From an interview by clinical social worker Jean Fain, The Huffington Post: “Whatever happens, if I wake up tomorrow and the cancer’s back, I’m grateful because I will die in my body. That means I will die connected to the earth and other people.”

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