"Conversation with Eve Ensler," Interview by Marianne Schnall, Feminist.com, 3 Oct. 2006.
[Eve Ensler created the Vagina Monologues] What patriarchy has done more than anything I think is divide the mind and the heart, the body and the soul. It’s made this huge split that allows people to do all kinds of terrible practices and be highly disassociated from what they’re doing. It seems to me, until you connect your personal life experience, history, feelings with the world, the world does not change. And I think the more people stay away from what they know, what they feel, what they see – the more powerless they become. That’s what fear does, doesn’t it? It robs you of your instincts, it robs you of your knowledge, it robs you of your voice, and so that you become more and more powerless in a system, which then begins to spin madly out of control. To me, I’ve always trusted that my personal experience is connected to the larger story. What you know inside your own story is a reflection of the larger world. I grew up in, as I said, a really beautiful, so-called upper middle class environment, where everyone was telling me I was secure. There was a huge disconnect going on – my father was a corporate president, my father was beating me, my father was molesting me. I was told not to believe that it was true even while it was happening to me. So I learned how to dissociate and disconnect for a long, long time. When I started putting it together I understood: father = empire, father = family, father = having all the control, father = determining the way the family thinks, father = president = having all the control = determining what the country thinks. You start to make these associations – they begin somewhere. It’s not accidental that we grow up and don’t question the President. It’s not accidental we grow up and we don’t question doctors. It’s not accidental that we grow up and we don’t question the media. We’ve been taught to relinquish our authority from a very young age. And in many circumstances we’ve been forced to because of violence. [Available at http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/interviews/eveensler.html]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. How can we empower ourselves and others despite the fact that some of us have "relinquished authority from a young age"?

2. How do and can innovators harness these difficult experiences for the sake of advocacy?

Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)