If you don't know Eve Ensler's name, you've probably heard of her work.
Most famous for writing "The Vagina Monologues," Ensler has tirelessly fought for feminism as a playwright, performer, feminist activist and founder of V-Day, an international philanthropic organization.
In "Insecure at Last: Losing It in Our Security-Obsessed World," Ensler chronicles her attempts to make sense of a conflict-tainted world. From her tumultuous childhood, "security" has been nothing but a concept in her life. With compelling narratives and vivid writing, Ensler invites readers into her scary yet captivating world.
DRAWN TO WHAT I FEARED THE MOST
THE FIRST MELTING
It is difficult to determine where any journey really begins. From a very young age, I was suspicious of the promise of security. Walt Disney cartoons and Father Knows Best gave me enormous anxiety. I sensed an underworld that was not being expressed, and the absence of it made me nervous. As a teenager I read two books over and over: Hiroshima and Death Be Not Proud. In the first, John Hersey documents individual accounts of those who survived the first nuclear attack. I remember melting flesh, bookcases crushing an older Japanese man, radiation sickness, hair falling out. In the other book, John Gunther's son gradually and nobly dies of a brain tumor. I do not know which I feared more, nuclear annihilation or a massive tumor in my brain.
I remember when I became afraid of the dark. It was after I watched the movie The Invisible Man on television. There was something about Claude Rains unwrapping his bandages and revealing that underneath there was nothing, he was nothing. I vomited the whole night. I still feel nauseous thinking about it. The idea of becoming nothing, that we were made of nothing, the dissolution of self, of ego, was then my greatest fear. It was my introduction to death.
The possibility of tumors, disappearance, annihilation, circled my childhood, but it wasn't until I traveled to a war zone in my early thirties that the abstraction of insecurity became a reality. In spite of even my very difficult childhood, I still lived in a comfortable environment. I had a cozy house on a white middle-class street in the USA. There were no air raids. No curfews. There were no bombs dropping around me. There was no one dragging my mother or sister out to be murdered or raped.
Sometime in 1993 I was walking down a street in Manhattan when I was seized by a photograph on the cover of Newsday -- six young Bosnian girls who had just been returned from a rape. A rape camp. A place where soldiers held kidnapped women to serve and pleasure them. A rape camp in 1993. It seemed utterly surreal and impossible. Yet the faces of the girls who had survived indicated the seriousness and reality of the situation. There was something about the anger in their faces, and the shock. There was something about the disassociation and the loss. These girls entered me. Or perhaps they already lived inside me. I knew I had to go and be with them. I didn't really know how or why. I knew I had to go and hear their stories. I had to know the details of what happened to them. I had to be close, to touch them, hear them, smell them, know them.