[if you read nothing else...read the conversation between Leah and Eve under the memorable section...so good]
I am on an Eve Ensler kick these days...I checked this one out from the library and it was finished instantly. I stayed up late. I woke up early. I read during lunch. It is short, with lots of breathing room, but captivating. Mostly I wish I had bought it so my trusty highlighter could have painted its pages.
Every woman has that one part of her body that takes up far too much emotional time and attention. It is where all her anger and self-hatred is pointed. It becomes the reason for all of her pain, and heartache, and lack of success. It is the measure of "perfection." For Eve, that body part is her stomach.
Eve seems to like to make her points by using her own story and mixing it with the real and funny and transparent stories of others like herself. She tells the story of the author and pioneering editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine who is 80+ years old, does one hundred sit-ups twice a day and believes that ninety pounds is only on the way to beautiful. She talks to Bernice and tells us her story. Bernice is an African American Teenager who was sent to fat camp. She loves buffets and going chunky-dunking in the pool. She thinks she looks beautiful "all round and moundy" in the moonlight. Carmen is Puerto Rican and from Brooklyn. For Puerto Ricans, it is the spread they dread. "If you get the spread, you're dead." Tiffany is a model and a completely new woman...literally. She is her plastic surgeon's life project and life partner. She eats ice cream to keep him occupied. My favorite woman that Eve talked to was Leah...the seventy-four-year-old African Masai woman...
This is what Leah had to say...
Leah: Do I like my body? Do I like my body? My body. My body. I love my body. God made this body. God gave me this body. My body. My body. Oh goodness, I love my body. My fingers, look at my fingers. I love my fingernails, little crescent moons. My hands, my hands, the way they flutter in the air and fall, they lead right up to my arms–so strong–they carry things along–I love my arms–and my legs, my legs are long, so long, Masai people, we are tall, I get there fast, my legs can wrap around a man and hold him there. My breasts...My breasts, well look at them, they're mine, my breasts are round and full and fine.
Eve: Leah, wait, I don't know how to do this. I want to feel like you. I want to love my body and stop hating my stomach.
Leah: What's wrong with it?
Eve: It's round. It used to be flat.
Leah: It's your stomach. It's meant to be seen. Eve, look at that tree? Do you see that tree? Now look at that tree. (Points to another tree) Do you like that tree? Do you hate that tree 'cause it doesn't look like that tree? Do you say that tree isn't pretty 'cause it doesn't look like that tree? We're all trees. You're a tree. I'm a tree. You've got to love your body, Eve. You've got to love your tree. Love your tree.
Love your tree!
I think this is a powerful book for woman to digest. I am not sure it would be as meaningful to the man species. Perhaps if the man had a woman in his life that was obsessing about one part of her body....maybe for the hope of understanding he might want to read through this book.
This book was $0.75 at Mckay's. I couldn't put it down once I started that first page. Whoever marked this as only $0.75 had obviously never read Eve Ensler, or maybe the price maker person was a boy, or perhaps they just hadn't discovered yet how captivating her writing can be.
As a playwright, Eve tells stories. True ones...about women all around the world: Bosnian refugees, female prisoners, Katrina survivors, etc. This is also about Eve's story and about how coming in contact with these women have taught her how to take back the power from "security."
Eve is real and raw and penetrating. Unsettling in her quest for understanding and immovable in her stance against violence towards women of every shape, color, language, size, and circumstance. She writes about security because it is something she has been striving for and something she has yearned for her whole life. We are products of our culture and our culture has decided that the female gender, the American, the the mother of 2.5 children has only arrived once "security" has been achieved. We throw away our rights, we destroy faith in humanity and we label all for the sake of this one little word. Security is elusive...it's definition ever changing...it's power ever growing. Eve dives into the question..."What if I were to live insecure."
Agnes Pareiyo was a victim of FGM (female genital mutilation). The pain, the humility, the consequences of somebody else's ignorance...she lives with all of this, but has used it to educate and prevent. Agnes walks from community to community through the hot and dusty Rift Valley for hours or even days looking for the Masai. She carries around a woman's torso and teaches the mothers, the fathers, the boys and the girls about the consequences of FGM. She has created an alternative ritual for girls that celebrates their coming-of-age with dance and music and theater...and NO cutting. Fifteen hundred girls have been saved from being cut because this woman kept walking and kept teaching.
"Today the United States has the highest prison population in the world, over 2.1 million people. This is the population of a small country. We lock people up at a rate that is seven to ten times that of any other democracy. We build more and more prisons, rather than addressing the poverty, racism, violence, that are the roots of crime. In our need for security, we fortify against our fear rather than changing the circumstances that create it."
"The Law of Security goes something like this. It is almost a guarantee that in the pursuit of security you will become more insecure...
Make the world "secure" by spending all of your money on destroying things rather than creating–bomb rather than build, annihilate rather than feed...
Allow corporations to ransack contries you are, in theory, saving, making the majority of the people poor and sick and without resources, then call them security threats, illegal combatants, terrorists, insurgents, when they rise up to fight you...
Control will eventually be mistaken for security."
"Freedom comes not from holding your life more precious or sacred than others'. Not from consuming more than your share...Freedom does not mean I don't have values or beliefs. But it does mean I am not hardened around them. I do not use them as weapons...Freedom cannot be bought or arranged or made with bombs or guards. It is deeper. It is a process. It is the acute awareness that we are all utterly interdependent."
Too bad that is the only quote I can remember from all the Shakespeare I was doused with in 9th-12th grade English Lit. Also, too bad it seems to be a misquote. Oh well.
Sahale and I have lived in the same vicinity now for...oh, about 5 months. Since the beginning of the..."I'm in Seattle!"..."Me too!" texting stage of this hide-and-seek game we have been playing, the plan has always been to hang out in some way, shape or form.
[insert winning sound from "unblock me" when I get the red block free]
Today was our day! We win! It only took 5 months...pathetic, lame. We seem to be busy on the weekends and I guess during the work week too. I guess we are mostly grown up and have jobs and stuff.
Back to Shakespeare...
Sahale had the awesome idea of going to "Shakespeare in the Park." She was already going with her mom and asked if I wanted to join. "Yes!" Free entertainment! outside! A plethora of people watching to be had!!! It is fun to see who treks in for an event such as this. The couple in front of me had their matching REI short chairs and looked like they had stopped at Whole Foods to get some fancy olives and such before staking out the perfect spot. The couple beside us to the left looked like perhaps they liked motorcycles and let their dog just dig away at the park lawn. Perhaps they didn't ride the motorcycle and bring the dog...that wouldn't make sense now would it. The group kiddy corner to the right were the "we picnic like professionals" crew. Salad bowls included. The two ladies to my right looked cool. One of them had something crocheted in her backpack. I saw it as she was rummaging for her Organic Cashew Butter.
Comedy of Errors was the play. At first I thought it was 12th Night, which I love, just by a different title, but nope, I guess Shakespeare had a thing for writing plays about twins. We'll call it his twin phase. It was good...a little bit hard to hear, so I am not sure I grasped fully, but then again...when have I ever grasped fully what Shakespeare threw down.
If all baseball games included this...I might actually want to go.
One of my World Vision friends who also happens to be a Seattle sports fanatic posted this on facebook and I thought I would pass on the few moments of pure delight that I just enjoyed...times two...I pushed replay.