Guest Author - Sarah Elise Stauffer
Eve Ensler is the internationally known playwright whose work serves to bring into the light the struggles we as Women face. Her newest play is The Good Body. Ensler was refreshingly forthright in fighting the shame surrounding vaginas, but finds the subject of her newest play to be much more complex to divulge. “It’s much more scary,” says Ensler. “The part of the body you hate the most is the worst secret.” This part, for her, is her stomach. She found this in her talks with other Women to be a resounding symphony of collective shame and self-loathing the world over.
In her own poignant and stirring words, "This journey has been different from the one I undertook in The Vagina Monologues. I was worried about vaginas when I began that play. I was worried about the shame associated with vaginas and I was worried about what was happening to vaginas, in the dark. As I talked about vaginas and to vaginas, I became even more worried about the onslaught of violence done to women and their vaginas around the world.
There was, of course, the great celebration of vaginas as well. Pleasure, discovery, sex, moans, power. I suppose I had this fantasy that after finally coming home into my vagina, I could relax, get on with life. This was not the case. The deadly self-hatred simply moved into another part of my body.
The Good Body began with me and my particular obsession with my “imperfect” stomach. I have charted this self-hatred, recorded it, tried to follow it back to its source. Here, unlike the women in The Vagina Monologues, I am my own victim, my own perpetrator. Of course, the tools of my selfvictimization have been made readily available. The pattern of the perfect body has been programmed into me since birth. But whatever the cultural influences and pressures, my preoccupation with my flab, my constant dieting, exercising, worrying, is selfimposed. I pick up the magazines. I buy into the ideal. I believe that blond, flat girls have the secret. What is far more frightening than narcissism is the zeal for self-mutilation that is spreading, infecting the world."
I read the book and found it to be another life affirming and startlingly honest examination of the insidious culture we live in. Eve puts her vision into the world and infuses us with awareness, healing, and an ability to turn violence into peace. In one of my favorite Tori Amos songs, Tori sings, "I'm piecing a potion to combat your poison, She is Risen.." That is what Eve is doing, giving us tools to combat the poisonous messages of our culture and create a new reality for future generations and ourselves.