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Eve Ensler: Girls Around the World

In this photo released by V-Day, Eve Ensler is joined by two women outside Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, eastern Congo. The hospital sees about 3,500 women a year suffering fistula and other severe genital injuries, victims of what a U.N. expert called the worst violence against women in the world. (AP)

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Eve Ensler made the language of female anatomy an open book in “The Vagina Monologues.”

A decade and more on, her one-woman play has morphed into a rallying point against victimization of women worldwide.

Now, Ensler is turning her attention to girls. In her new book, “I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World,” she animates stories of girls abused, trafficked, mutilated, locked up in Facebook and lost.

And she champions girl power — which could and should, she says, save the world.

This hour, On Point: Eve Ensler on girls.


Eve Ensler joins us from New York. Performer, activist, and Obie-winning playwright, she’s best known for “The Vagina Monologues.” Her new book is “I am an Emotional Creature: the Secret Life of Girls Around the World.” You can read an excerpt here. She is also founder of the group V-Day, which works to end violence against women and girls across the globe.

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  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    There is a Male version of the Vagina Monologue.

    “Big Dick Asian Men” saw the show at Northeastern University in Boston.

    Great acting it is really about how people view Asian men from racism,politics and genitals.

  • Kye

    *snap snap snap snap snap*
    THat was AWESOME! Even thought that monologue is intended for girls, I think the sentiment is universal for young boys too, and the confusion that young people experience with growing up in our society.

  • Mike M

    My GOD that was long. Can we cut the diatribes in the future? I don’t care that it’s a monologue – cut that thing down. I had to turn the dial for a short bit to stop the pain.

  • Edith

    How to be a human being in 2010. Boys are suffering too. It breaks my heart the way boys are made into things as well. (I am the mother of a son, by the way) We are all emotional creatures. I wish we could break away from limiting roles on both sides. We all need to strive toward more humanity. That was a beautiful, powerful reading, by the way.

  • Chris

    I just heard that MONOLOGUE!!!! Not only TRUE, but COMPREHENSIVELY TRUE!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    (By the way, the material within that monologue is JUST what the Tea Party-ers REFUSE to look at while they “show off” by sounding outraged. They LOVE to hear the sound of their own voices. This monologue, on the other hand, is truly AWARE of the voices all around us, and in us! Thank you! Thank you! This is one of the most amazing pieces of writing in the Whole History of the World! That is NOT hyperbole, that’s the way it is!

  • GHU

    The overwrought, phony-poetry reading style of Ms. Ensler cannot disguise the shallowness of her critique. My friends and I–well, any sentient being over the age of 15–could make a list of things wrong with the world and wrong for women. Will there be any actual analysis (as opposed to sensationalistic emoting and sweeping generalizations) to accompany the litany of complaints? My previous experience of Ms. Ensler’s performances and writings would indicate otherwise.

  • Chris

    Mike, above, says that was too long???!!! Try LIVING thru those situations in REAL TIME!

  • Amanda

    It may have been long, but there’s a lot of injustice, so the least we can do is turn the dial up and face it. It should be painful to hear, but it’s every human being’s responsibility to listen and act, rather than turn away. Thank you, Eve.

  • Faith Justice

    Wow what a powerful monologue. I have a 17 year old boy and I see how all of this effects him and his friends, many who are girls. Their generation has so much on their ‘plate’ and I think it is overwhelming them. The way technology interrupts real one on one communication and how ‘hooking up’ which includes everything short of intercourse, is not sex. All the information that is constantly bombarding them. They see how the ‘haves’ get away with murder. How can they process all this. Thank you for giving them voice Eve.

  • Renee

    I have just listend to Eve and found myself locked to my computer listening. I am shaken and full of emotion from this monologue. I feel connected like never before. Thank you.

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    Ms. Ensler’s opening monologue today surpasses ‘Vagina Monolgue’ and becomes a ‘Human Monologue’. Brava! Thank you for addressing issues of economic and social inequality globally as a human issue which particularly falls on young women and those who are different, such as people who are GLBT.

  • Ed H.

    The problem women face today is that they are told that they can kill their children in abortion, this causes all kinds of inner conflict and problems for them and it is a lie. We all need to be pro-life, if only for women’s sake.

  • Jim

    I like this show. and I strongly believe in and support girl’s rights, not today’s American womens’s rights. we need to help these girls in this world… Eve is one of only a few people bringing this topic up. the other person i know who is actively working on this area is Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times reporter.

  • Chris

    Tom, you just asked if it’s really true that girls learn that “it’s bad to be a girl”. That is what the tone-deafness in YESTERDAY”S female guest had at its base. Two of us commented on it. NOW, I realize, that yesterday’s guest’s stated sense of her own achievements had that quality, sometimes seen by perceptive women in other women, of having at their base the deeply held belief (often NOT articulated explicitly by the holder of the belief, even to herself) that “it’s bad to be a girl”; that one’s WORK should not look like it was “done by a girl”. I don’t want to single out that guest, but she WAS expressive on air of a set of notions that ARE up for discussion.

  • http://kisu.org Darci

    I am a 27 year old woman living in America, and three of my best friends (having known them for 9 years or longer) have been molested or raped, all three had eating disorders and have lifetime problems now because of these experiences, and 2 tried to kill themselves. I have met many more women who have experienced this horror on some level, and in 2004 participated in an outreach effort in Washington for V day called the Vagina dialogues. The group I participated in consisted of 9 women total – 8 of which had been sexually or physically assaulted in some way. This is just in a very small part of America. I have heard stories of women in Ethiopia having battery acid thrown on their face for rejecting a romantic advance of a man. I don’t think that Eve Ensler is overstating the issue. I think she’s right that we don’t WANT to look at the issue, because we are constantly told not to make mountains out of molehills. Well this is a mountain that has been made a molehill, and I am so greatfull that she is so active in making this issue known. Women need to band together, not compete..and at least in America…we are conditioned to view each other as competition for men. We are pitted against each other from the start, so then it is even harder to come together in a stance against violence we all incur on varying levels. Thank you so much Eve, I truly admire and respect you and would love to accomplish even a fraction for humanity that you have.

  • rachel chevalier

    My husband just called me and told me to buy the book, he was touched deeply by the introduction that was read on the radio. Thank you Eve

  • Mary Pelham White

    As I listen to this discussion, all I can say is that spirituality it so hard to convey. So often, the questions are defensive and always regarding access to conventional positions. It’s so hard to convey a different way of thinking, a spiritual dimension, that embraces the male and female dimensions. The 3rd way of… thinking, rather than opposites, is very uncommon

    Thank goodness for Eve Ensler and now for the book, Half the Sky, and for the work of World Pulse. These avenues for documenting factual information about women and girls worldwide will certainly pave the way to a new dialogue.

  • Josh


    One reason for the fear of Emotion in a “Man’s World” is the fear of “Magic”. Where we live these days in a pinnacle of logical techno-society, the Yang to the Yin of Man is the emotional world where Women rule. That burbling beneath the surface is the Proto-Gods of the Ancients…the World on the other side of the surface, that mirrors in size and scope the world we see. Man must strive always to unite the worlds. Strive Always for the Whole.

    Happy V-Day ! :)

  • brian

    I’m being introduced to the world of the girl through the constant drama of my almost 15 year old girl. She has so little control and understanding of her emotions that it’s just raw chaos — and I’m at a loss to help her nurture it all.

  • Marcia

    Eve Ensler is awesome, and her opening poem was sensational!

    But here’s the point that’s not being made. Everyone has emotions and should feel and respect them. The important thing is to feel and respect emotions, BUT we need to make conscious, rational choices whether or not to act on them. That’s how we can respect emotions, but not necessarily let them control everything we do.

    This point has not come through at all.

  • Erin Hoernig

    I am blown away by Eve Ensler! Her reading of “I Am An Emotional Creature” was DEEPLY affecting, and I suddenly realized that in that monologue, she has accessed an ancient, primal feminine–actually Goddess energy–that has been buried, denied, ignored by the patriarchal society which dominates the globe.
    Thank you, Eve, so much! Blessings and continued energy to you! May you fan the spark of the ancient feminine that flickers in the heart of all persons!

  • Susan Turnau

    I am so glad to see the amount of dissent is minor and that the majority of listeners relate to the truth of Ensler’s condensation of her experiences with girls and women around the world. I was also encouraged by the male responses to the radio.

  • Corinna

    A caller said that his first wife’s emotions were more important than what was going on in reality and that it ruined his marriage. Eve Ensler did not even understand what he meant! The passage she read from her new book made me cringe. Logical thinking gets replaced by irrationality way too often. We need less of that, not more! I’m saying that as a happy woman, loving wife and caring mother.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    Loved it! Loved it! SOOOOOOO true. I will buy it, read it and pass it on to my Renaissance daughter who is away at univerisity. She got kicked off boy’s travel baseball in the north country for “being a girl” . She won numerous awards but the parents couldn’t stand the fact that she was better at baseball than most the boys. Got ignored at her high school award ceremony for having ” ATTITUDE” Duh, no kidding, how do you think she got to the top of everything she does? EMOTION. ATTITUDE. Emotions SCARE people. I was told by a counselor when it came to an up coming lawsuit, I wasn’t to be “emotional” at the trial. Hello, the trial would be sexual misconduct, sexual abuse…sorry it is EMOTIONAL. I love being a woman, I am an artist, a sister, a mother, an activist and when I have to be, I can blow my emotions through your wall. Women have a loooooong way to go, so let’s get walking.

  • http://www.marathonphysicaltherapy.com Jessica

    Great show, amazing message!
    Tried to call in, but the line was consistently busy…
    I am a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction, first saw Vagina Monologues as my career was just beginning, and am consistently amazed at the marginalization of women with pelvic floor dysfunction here in our “advanced and developed” society and am so energized to advocate for women here and for women abroad. Traveled to Goma to teach about pelvic floor rehab last year and still am involved with HEAL Africa. Eve, thank you for your voice for all women and specifically for your work for the women of DRC!

  • BARB

    I have not been so deeply moved by the spoken word in years. In one way, it scares me deep inside due to covered up stuffed away past issues not yet fully delt with, or even fully remembered. In another way, it fills me with hope for change, not just for myself and the lives of other women, but also for the human species as a whole.
    The first step in changing a problem is to acknowledge its’ existance. Then we must recognize our own role in it and move past any socially generated apathy or self-protective numbness regarding the issue.
    All too often we, Homo sapiens, expend enormous amounts of angry energy focusing on social problems which do not require any personal change in our own life, be it change of attitude or of behavior. Consequently, we become quite uncomfortable when confronted with moral transgressions of which we are a participant, however inadvertently or naively. The first monologue Eve read certainly does confront us with many of those moral transgressions.

    I would suggest to any person experiencing deeply negative reactions to the reading that they gather the personal courage to ask themselves what is going on in their own psyche to trigger such feelings.

    Thank You Eve.

  • Cillia

    Recently, I spoke up against sexual harassment, that, altho it had happened decades ago, had de-railed me personally and professionally and which still had its talons in me in the form of low self-esteem and self doubt. I spoke up because I thought that, surely, there would be other women present who might benefit from my revelation, especially if they, too, had had a similar thing happen to them in that particular context. One woman assaulted me verbally for speaking up, saying, “you should have been able to handle that!” But, at a second, related event a month later, a woman did indeed reveal that she, too, had been very adversely affected by the harassment. She also revealed that the harasser had eventually lost his position DUE TO his behavior, which was apparently rampant. The person who chairs that particular setting now is fully aware of how trenchantly situations like I described can imbed themselves in the “victim” and how they are now also seen as illegal (Title IX). With more discussion & awareness of this “complex” of cause and effect, women may be able to head off SOME of the consequences before they imbed themselves. BUT, the caveat there is: AWARENESS. If young women, as they emerge into various stages of their lives, are not MADE AWARE by their elders and mentors of the traps they must beware of while they are on their way to taking advantage of the opportunities that will also be coming their way, the traps can re-rail them in ways that mimic the “olden days”, when we did not UNDERSTAND the importance of UNDERSTANDING! Eve’s work helps us understand! (And, I do believe Eve means it when she says, almost in Jungian terms, that there are also “girl” archetypes inside our males. And there are.) Thanks!

  • John

    Eve Ensler’s thesis that the world would be better off if men where more like women is just plain silly. What she calls “emotionally cut off” is normal behavior for men just as women being “emotional beings”. The author misses the point about how the two sexes balance each other out. Clearly she is no social scientist or philosopher.

  • James

    I was cheering during Eve’s monologue today as I listened to her great truths and revelations for men and women..

    Could you transcribe that monologue on line so we can share it with family, friends, neighbors and enemies… ?

    Thanks for a terrific show !!!

  • Robert Dente

    A stunning jeremiad–thank you for sharing Ms. Ensler’s efforts and thoughts!

  • Jackie

    Yikes. “MONO-logue” is the right word for this. I tuned in expecting to really feel inspired by her message, and while some of her ideas hit home, I felt that her approach was very one-sided, aggressive, and not encouraging of dialogue. I think this took away from her message.

  • Susan Lowry

    I was driving into San Francisco as Eve read this and nearly had to pull off the freeway, I got so emotional. Students and faculty at our college are performing VM for Women’s History month (our 7th year), and I wanted to immediately call my fellow cast members and share it with them. I’m waiting for one to arrive now so I can at least share with her.

  • cory

    Ed H,

    I won’t take a position either way on abortion, but…

    I’d like to know your credentials to make such an in depth psychological analysis of women who make any particular reproductive choice.

    Do you think having a child created by rape or incest would have any negative effects on a woman’s psyche? How about the mental pressures on a single parent teen mother?

    I understand that you have an ideological drum to beat. Perhaps it would be best not to confuse this with psychanalysis.

  • Theresa J

    Just tuned in…. great message for both genders and for intergenerational learning…..perhaps if we felt more for the humanity of one another, we could stop fighting war …. humanity is in perpetual crisis because they love individually and collectively less and war ever the more so….keep on revealing truth to humanity Eve…. mother of life.

  • Ryan T

    It was nice traveling to outer space with all of you today.

    If only we could just learn to appreciate each other and then realize how special we all are. For it is only then that we will achieve the utopian society that we all know is possible.

    Happy V day!

  • Liz

    Eve was great this afternoon and so are most of the comments. I am a former Vagina Monologue actress and it was a very powerful and empowering experience for me. Today’s monologues were definitely tough to listen to but worth it, especially when Eve points out how utterly uninformed most of us are about what goes on in the world, and how we play a role in it (I didn’t know the US was fueling violence against women in the DRC although I probably shouldn’t be surprised). I am very heartened at the many men who called or wrote in who really “got it.” I am frustated at others who don’t get it. John’s comment was exactly what Eve was talking about – boys and men are socialized to believe that the sexes are so different and boys have to be tough and emotionally distant. Not all social scientists and philosophers believe in the same theories, you know. There’s plenty of research that supports Eve’s view, which I strongly agree with. I was also a little surprised at the way Tom was interviewing Eve – I didn’t feel he was really taking her seriously. Anyway, I am thrilled that Eve was on the air and doing the amazing work she is doing for girls, women and humanity.

  • Paul Hodel

    Ms. Easler’s message is vitally important and I will do what small things I can do to join this international effort to stop violence against women and girls. I can empathize with those persons who are equally concerned with boys and men yet think everyone will benefit once we confront the patriarchal roots of violence and the social and cultural doination and violene against women.
    Thank you for this very important book and program.

  • Tammy S

    The topic was interesting.
    The only problem I had with the conversation was that Eve Ensler DOES appreciate the praise she received from her audience; she did not do so well when she had to defend certain critisms about her work.

  • Lisa

    For Ed who stated the problem women face is abortion. Did you listen to anything that Ms Ensler said? Are you kidding me? Becoming or being Pro Life will not change most of the ills that face women, men or the planet today.

    I thought this was fabulous and alarming at the same time. Violence against women and men seems to be on the rise not just in America but everywhere.

    As a victim of rape in 1973, I needed hear something like this back then to help me through and give me confidence in myself and not feel like I was to blame.

    I, for one, am grateful for Ms Ensler’s work and hope more people hear it!

  • Susan Turnau

    Since yesterday I’ve had two additional thoughts:

    With a debt to Jessica Benjamin’s intersubjective theories I would like to suggest that it is not necessarily a male-female dichotomy that is causing the problems Eve Ensler writes about so skillfully but rather one of “doer vs. done-to.” Looking at it that way one sees that respectful equality is what the world needs.

    I would also like to point out that not every child is born 100% female or 100% male and that we need to respect the rights of individuals whose sexuality is not distinctly one or the other.

  • http://OnPoint Doug in Vermont

    I enjoyed and was moved by Eve Ensler’s comments and work, but want to comment on Tom Ashbrook’s “attitude” as the program concluded. As with his interview with Queen Latifah a few months ago, it seemed to me that Tom became rude and disrespectful near the end of the interview. I did not notice either woman being provocative, although Queen Latifah did finally redress Tom’s tone. So common, Tom, treat your guests with more respect. “Got it”?

  • ruralcounsel

    That was so excruciating and nauseating that I had to switch over to listening to music.

    Please, if the fairer sex needs some ego-boosting and cheerleading about being irrational and all in tune with their emotional side, in the future, make it pay-per-view or something.

    Or how about putting some Fairness Doctrine to work, and do something about how we are educationally short-changing and feminizing our boys, to their long term detriment.

  • Molly

    I too was surprised by Tom Ashbrook’s tone. I had not heard him be antagonistic and dismissive of a guest before, and it made me wonder what part of Ensler’s contributions made him feel so threatened.
    I was disappointed and put off by his responses.

  • Kim from Newton

    I am a long time listener and was VERY disappointed in Tom’s hosting of this guest. He had a dismissive and negative attitude and apparently hasn’t even seen the Vagina Monologues. This reflects particularly badly on you, Tom, since part of her message is about women’s concerns not being taken seriously and here you are not giving this woman the respect she deserves, especially when she’s clearly doing so much to try affect positive change in the world.

  • Jane

    I have to agree to with Kim!! And this is not the first time either. I have felt discomfort coming from the host during other similar themed segments. Also something of a negative attitude. Perhaps Tom should go to some sort of retreat where he can get in touch with his inner woman.

  • Boone

    I love Tom and I loved Eve with her eye-opening message. As a 62-year-old with a degree in mathematics and an avid amateur cosmologist, I’d say I’m more on the ‘intellect’ side, but now more sympathetic with the emotional.

  • Susan

    On the contrary, I thought Tom was a little too soft with Eve. While some of what she said resonated with me, she basically would not engage with questions/comments from callers that had any flavor of critique to them. There were a few times I wished that Tom would have pushed her more to engage. Her tone was often very off-putting.

  • George Shaw

    I saw the Vagina Monologues performed once–me and about five other guys and 250 women. It is a chic’s performance, and we were really out of place, I felt. I don’t think it did me any harm; but I don’t believe it unlocked many of the mysteries that make communication between the sexes so interesting.

    I have to write a note about the interview with Eve Ensler, though, because I find the notion that men and boys need to find “their inner girl” to be preposterous, and maybe harmful. What men and boys need to find is their inner man. Especially in the cases of boys growing up without fathers at home, but for all young men, what is needed and often too hard to find today are solid masculine models to help them come to grips with our common male identity and to learn how to tame the testosterone. That is our challenge. Men are, nonetheless, sentient beings, in our own ways, and, let’s not forget, the true romantics. Women, especially mother, are the true pragmatists. Eve’s notion is as off-kilter as Professor Henry Higgins’ lament “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” It’s humorous precisely because it’s absurd and no one would want it!

  • Tim

    Wow – I’m listening to that opening monologue. What a pile of angry crap – sounds like everybody is horrible except her vagina.

  • http://plimspiration.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/on-two-inspiring-interviews-first-eve-ensler/ DrPlim

    I’m very grateful to Tom and Eve for making that show happen. I imagine many people around the world listened to it and thus the ideas have been spread a little bit more.
    I was very moved by how passionate Eve spoke. She has a lot of direct experience with women, hearing thousands of their stories, across cultures, across the globe. I don’t think she needs a degree to prove the veracity of her direct experience, or to share her knowledge.
    Like a couple other people who commented, I also sensed something did shift between Tom and Eve at some point in the interview. Not sure how Tom’s comment “I thought you’d be more empathetic than that Eve” or “I thought you had a lot of capacity on that score” would assist in addressing the caller or furthering the interview.

  • Laurie-Marie

    Love Eve Ensler! Always direct, inspirational, passionate, and committed to social justice. Great show!

  • Edgar

    I appreciate that the first step in solving any problem is identifying the problem. Hence the focus on the glass half empty, it would be nice to have more concrete discussion on the next steps. Acknowledging that it is good to be a girl (and a boy for that matter), acknowledging that all humans have value, okay. But is that enough?

  • Rachel Pearlman



  • Nona

    I really felt like Eve was speaking for me. It was long but I am glad because I was only half paying attention but 1/4 way into it I was like YEAH! and by the end I was amazed and touched!! I am so glad that it did not end too soon!! TY EVE

  • Dave C

    Thank you Eve – for the wonderful work that you are doing.


  • Roy Arispe

    Aw that women has a heart. God Bless her. Women do deserve the best they are strong and they have put up with alot.

  • terre_moto

    I really enjoyed listening to this on NPR today. Its refreshing to hear someone be supportive of women without men-bashing. She is right, it is ok to be emotional, be female and be ourselves: Women. She has an important message for girls today, and for humanity as a whole.

    As a “post-feminist” who works with and (finally) appreciates men for being the different creatures they are, and loving them and forgiving them, i agree thats its time to finally start loving and forgiving ourselves.

    She is right – choose your media like you choose your food and decide what you want to put in YOUR body. Hit the off button. Be yourself.

    Applaud your emotional self and don’t be told you are somehow wrong for being female.

    Thanks Eve for having the courage to stand up and shout, your words are heard.

  • Sokodelic

    As a rebel without a cause and as the youngest of three, the differences between my brother and I are immense. My brother, a straight as an arrow, college grad with a masters degree, prune. Myself, a college drop-out dishwasher, amateur musician, experimenter of, shall I say of “alternative substances.” With a six year gap, we are finally coming to terms and respective our differences at the age of 31 and 25, respectively. 

  • Guest

    I am curious how the Muslim culture views Eve Ensler’s attempt to empower women around the world?

  • Guest

    Is she a Progressive like
    Margaret Sanger?

  • Myager52

    Thank you so much for having Eve read such a long piece. It is soooo powerful. She says what few are allowed to say on mainstrwam media.

    • Guest

      When did she talk on CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC?  This is not mainstream Media! LOL

  • Guest

    Eve Ensler just laugh about men abusing their wives on super bowl Sunday?  That is sick!

  • Chava Kaye

    For Jewish girls looking for creative expression, leadership, and unity, there is Yaldah Magazine by Jewish girls for Jewish girls, created by teen entrepreneur, Leah Larson in 2004. Now an international quarterly, Yaldah runs retreats and empowerment workshops for girls.  http://www.yaldah.com

  • David

    ‘Girl Cell’?
    The ideal that compassion is sex linked is total sexism.  Compassion and all other such traits are human traits and any human can experience them.

  • Majsr

    Ask the guest lady about the state of families and children in the “modern west”?  Can you say broken & fat? I’d like her response/deflection on that. 

  • Michael M. Ross

    The world is not binary. It’s not just about “girls” and “boys”, East and West, etc. That’s a distorted way to process life.

  • Demore4u

    while girls have a unique vulnerability I believe emotional suffering and confusion about personal identity is familiar to both genders growing up poor in this world.  I think all suffering comes from the  financial inequity rather than gender differentiation which  pits one  sex against the other. Having said that I LOVED The Vagina Monologues and do believe in her cause, but the I’m tired of hearing “my suffering is  greater than yours”.. ..exploration comes in many forms and is historically rooted in financial gain.

  • Majsr

    I never miss…when westerners (men & women), narrate the rest of the world through OUR version of modern civility. Can anybody here understand why – some cultures want NO PART of our version of family dynamics?  I mean, look at our (U.S.) families & kids….just look at the stats…  

  • Guest

    How about the Square of Opposition? There is the Belief System and the Knowledge System and they are separate. Beliefs are just that…YOUR beliefs and have no place discussing knowledge.

  • Chris

    Boys/Men are taught or as a matter of cultural conditioning, learn to control their emotions. In many cases they never learn to feel deeply.  This to my eye has been the product of an old paradigm where males were providers and went into the world everyday to pursue those ends.  The paradigm has changed and woman and their roles have expanded as we go into the future.  Equality is closer than it has ever been.  Woman are now finding themselves the major bread winners in a post industrial society.  I will be curious to see what this dynamic will do in shaping the female emotional life as we head into the future.   Commerce does not reward emotionality.

  • Rich

    Eve, thank you for your words and actions to make this world a better place for all. It is important work that you do.

  • Avery M

    Thank you for such wonderful monologues. They are so lyrical and inspiring.

  • Lpaigeg

    My Mom was disabled by her emotions and was ashamed for it, and I grew up thinking to be emotional, to cry at work, to yell at work, was shameful. I’ve often wondered if a different viewpoint could be held up. You’ve done that for me, Eve. I was weeping hearing you read from this book. Thank you.

    • Bill

      Yelling at work IS shameful, since you would likely be yelling at someone else, and you have no right to abuse a colleague.  Would you also support that person’s right to yell at you?  Or, would you then complain about a hostile work environment?

  • Robby

    I think what the caller that Eve didn’t respond to was trying to make a point about the balance of logic and emotion, and how both are important to balance.

    I didn’t agree with the way he presented it, but I think that knowledge and logic are just as empowering for both men and women as emotion, and I’d love to hear Eve’s take on how logic and intelligence play into her viewpoint of the world.

  • moose1

    Great discussion. As a man brought up in America, I can tell you that repressing, dismissing, ignoring and hating our emotions is what we are taught. It’s what our culture demands and enforces. In my experience, it’s way more accepted for women to be emotional than men. This has huge consequences, not the least of which is an epidemic of emotional disorders for me, like depression, anxiety, rage and a whole host of other forms of suffering that comes from stuffing down our emotions and our true selves. 

  • Leah Baum

    that was amazing!!  Can NPR please post a written version of the quote from the book she read!!

  • Guest

    This subject is all one sided against men/ boys! Go to any mall and you will find millions of dollars of female merchandise and little or no male merchandise. This program is Extremely biased! I have a neighbor who’s greatest grievance is how violently his step mother abused him. He has been to war and suffered much but why is his step mother not afraid of being prosecuted? The whole legal system only helps women, women s groups ruteenly lobby state officials in order to promote male hate and excuse evil by women. Women get away with sexual abuse that would get a man a life sentence in prison or trigger and Amber alert. It is Nazi-isum reinvented. Also you people are editing out any calls that might be in opposition to this subject!

  • woman confused

    You talk about men finding the their emotional inner self and yet the Pope who is an extremely spiritual and caring person and Mr Tebow who is going against the grain and supporting life and who is in touch with his inner self, you denegrade.  I don’t understand.  These are men of passion who are following their heart.  Please explain.

  • Aefister

    All humans are emotional creatures, among other things. There is a difference between processing emotions with intelligence and controlling them. Most men and women are taught to suppress their emotional lives, which has led to much of our social and civil dysfunctions. Our emotions are a fact of human life, the more we stifle them the more destructive they are and the more destructive we become.

    • Asdf

      >>Our emotions are a fact of human life, the more we stifle them the more destructive they are and the more destructive we become.
      Do you know of any evidence for this assertion?  It seems to me a case could be made for the opposite – the more we express our emotions, the more destructive we become.  I think emotional life is more complicated than this, and not really amenable to simplistic assertions and generalizations, which are rife in discussions of gender-related issues.  

  • unimpressed with Tom

    Speaking as a guy, I lost some respect for Tom chiding Eve for not wanting to comment on the guy who told a story about his 2 wives that was none too clear, other than that he gets along better with his current wife than he did with his last wife.  Eve said she didn’t understand what the guy said, so she couldn’t really comment on it, and Tom literally said “I thought you were more empathetic than that”.  I too didn’t follow the guy’s story, and I have no problem with a person not wanting to comment on something that they don’t understand, it’s a logical response.  Sorry Tom, but it sounded like you made an assumption about what the caller meant, and that you had something in mind that you wanted to hear her say, but when she didn’t, you were disappointed.  As I said, you were in fact the disappointing one.

    • bsb

      I agree. This has not been Tom’s “best moment,” and I am a faithful listener.  I forward stories to friends, and I provide incentives to my college students to listen to course-related programs.

    • Roy Mac

      That is an unfair criticism of Tom.  This woman clearly has an agenday–mainly, selling her play–and doesn’t have the intellect to deal with ideas outside her own play pen, as much fun as it may be.  If she’s not willing to swim in the deep end, she shouldn’t show up on shows like Tom’s to promote her wares.

      • Unimpressed

        There was one caller whose story she said she didn’t understand (nor did I, he was not able to succinctly convey an actual point to his story) and therefore didn’t feel she could comment, and this means that she doesn’t have the intellect to deal with outside ideas?  Did she refuse to reply to any other comments?  You thought it was fair to say she was lacking in empathy because she said she didn’t understand the story?  Who’s the one with the agenda?

        • Frankd

          ms ensler understood it – she just didn’t want to call the first wife what she was – an overly emotional hysterical person

    • SJoe

      The caller was clearly grappling with these two relationship experiences, and it seemed, was hoping to express some points regarding the ‘very emotional’ vs. the more ‘logical’ contexts. Unfortuanately, he failed to articulate his point well, perhaps being overwhelmed with emotion himself, or just being too nervous. In any event, Eve’s dissmissive quip that “I just don’t get it…” seemed insensitive and smug. I can’t help wonder how she would have responded to a woman caller with the same poor delivery. Somehow I think she would have “gotten” that.  Kudos to Tom for making her sweat if only for a few seconds.

      • Frankd

        some women just have to have DRAMA in their life – somehow this has to be seperated from “emotion” for discussion purposes

        italian opera has emotion ranging all the way to passion yet still has a story to tell that doesn’t get lost in “drama” yet the story includes lust, sex, killing, love, deception, adultry, ego, yelling, screaming etc etc it remains grounded and logical to the point of classical story lines

        yet italian opera (emotion passion) will never be confused with soap opera (drama)

        and further yet, hysteria, the state beyond unnecessary drama, is unfortunately a typical trait ascribed to women which indicates a limited level of maturity and no control

        hitting that high-C is the ultimate in control, and only a woman can do it

        become a student of opera and you will get a multi-facited monologue of classical passion far surpassing what ms ensler offers

        try it

        • Frankd

          or listen to charlotte church sing “o mio babbino caro”

           and understand that the words are a young girl from a small town who respectfully requests of her father his blessing towards seeing a young boy BUT if not she will throw herself into the river

          that’s deep passion on a classical story

          and that song leaves a lump in my throat every time i listen to it

          a different lump than ms enslers show gives me

        • Frankd

          or charlotte church singing “voi che sopete”

          Tell me what love is, what can it be What is this yearning burning me? Can I survive it, will I endure? This is my sickness, is there a cure? First his obsession seizing my brain, Starting in passion, ending in pain. I start to shiver, then I’m on fire, Then I’m aquiver with seething desire. Who knows the secret, who holds the key? I long for something – what can it be? My brain is reeling, I wonder why; And then the feeling I’m going to die. By day it haunts me, haunts me by night. This tender torment, tinged with delight! Tell me wht love is, what can it be? What is this yearning, burning in me? What is this yearning, burning in me? What is this yearning, burning in me?
          these questions and passions of a young girl on the verge of EMPOWERMENT as the classical inquiries throughout history

          ms ensler is only featuring a relatively contemporary take on the topic

          she is only a few thousand years from its inception

    • FrnakD

      i took it that ms ensler knew exactly the response – but didn’t want to say factually that an overly “emotional” woman is just a hysterical person and a “clueless” husband who has to deal with this only exaserbates it by being so unable to understand the message under the hysteria

      deborah tannen has examined these situations and has multiple books describing, explaining and illustrating these tendencies in men and women, manifest in action, or inaction, and steming from conversation or more accurately mis-communication

    • Frankd

      i re-listened and ms ensler stated the first wife was “alive and full of feelings” while the caller was indicating hysterical as in a drama queen

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been curious about the Monologues for some time, but listening to Eve Ensler has made me determined to hear them. Her work on behalf of women and girls and their self-esteem is vital for a better tomorrow for all of us. However she lost me entirely when she said that the virtue of compassion is the exclusive provenance of girls/women. It seems that sexism is quite alive and still well in Eve in spite of her otherwise enlightened heart.

  • Andysylvia

    Tom should publicly apologize to Eve for that horrible ‘critique’. She chose not to comment on a personal relationship about which she new nothing.  Bravo!  We should all be similarly restrained in our leaps to judgement.  This kind of guest criticism involving demeaning comments belongs on FOX.  Thanks loads for lowering the standards of NPR, Tom!

  • Andysylvia

    Eve seems to use the word ‘girl’ to encapsulate the idea of emotional caring feelings….  while it is clear from her comments and actual words that she does not mean that girls own all feelings, it is hard to remember this meaning when repeatedly using the term ‘girl’.  We already have loads of meaning wrapped up this word.  I would suggest that we find another term for the emotional, caring feeling bits of every human being… allowing us to better convey the idea that this ‘thing’ can be cultivated in all of us.

  • bsb

    I am an ardent fan of Tom Ashbrook and OnPoint and, in general, he is usually very understanding, empathetic, and compassionate. However, I think that many of his reactions to Ms. Ensler’s comments indicate “the great divide” between men and women. I can’t recall the exact words he used, but it was clear to me that he simply did not understand the enormity of the violence against women and how pervasive it is, world-wide, yes, but also in the USA. A plea … please do more to help all of us understand how all-apervasiv violence against women and children–both boys and girls–is, and of course, how we can help to stop it. 

  • Guest123

    Re: Listener who called in with the ‘glass half full’ comment. Have to agree with Susan at 10:12.  
    Criticism is healthy. The mainstream can only seem to tolerate/manage a few women at a time, so there’s often an immediate rush to either protect or condemn.  It’s so dishonest, there’s women who famously make a decent living at the latter.

    Progress will be when there’s a diversity of voices/perspectives/accomplishments, on par with that of men.

  • Axel

    What a woman! I only caught part of her reading from her new book and immediately found my entire being screaming in agreement.
    NPR – please post online the excerpt from her book.
    Thank you

  • Allison

    I found myself applauding and applauding this morning when I heard Eve read her wonderful poem.  Please share the reading again. 

  • Pamelafrost10

    Thank-you for such a powerful poem!

  • No

    what a load of nonsense. ‘girls’. Let’s talk about women instead. Women are as capable as men, and also share men’s flaws in addition to having some different ones. Saying that if women were in control all the environmental problems would be solved because they are ‘more compassionate’ is just as stupid as saying that men would solve it because they are better engineers. Stop already — just be better PEOPLE and give up the chauvinism.  

    • Anon


  • Petite Poulet

    If you want men who are able to be emotional and speak
    about their emotions, then stop cutting on their genitals when they are only
    days old. It has been shown that circumcised men are less able to express the
    feelings. It interferes with breastfeeding and maternal bonding and permanently
    alters the brain. This may explain why circumcising cultures have such negative
    attitudes toward women. One way that women can raise their boys to have less
    rage against women is to make sure they don’t get circumcised.

  • Adoptive Mom

    I was very interested to listen to Eve’s interview, but I was horrified to hear the following in one of her “poems”:   “Special people adopt hand-picked babies in faraway lands.  Their flights there cost more than the babies’ parents made this year.  Why don’t they just give it to them?”

    Horrified, just horrified.  I lost all respect for Eve Ensler this evening.

  • Ron R.

    Tom, Thank you for having Eve Ensler on your program yesterday – 12-29-12. Having seen and felt “The Dinner Party”, Judy Chicago (circa. i don’t remember”), I hope that Eve can perform in St. Louis. I’ll be checking her www soon.
    Thanks again, Tom,

  • Frankd

    eve ensler has created a cottage industry with a reasonable request to end violence against women, okay, that’s fair enough

    and it was mentioned numerous times on the broadcast last evening that sudan is a particularly dangerous place for women, and i certainly agree with that

    however why is it always the US that has to be the policeperson of the world ?

    savage uncivilized sexually-deviant men acting against desperate women in a soverign state have the particular circumstance of doing what they want within their country’s boarders

    leaders throughout africa, as well as the entire world, are starving and imprisoning and killing their own people, men and women alike

    where does the US draw the line as to where it acts and where it does not act ?

    in this country, we have our own children having children, living in abject poverty, some having multiple children with multiple men, all unmarried and hopelessly on government assistance for every necessity, and uneducated – isn’t this another form of abuse of women and certainly of the children who have only a future of life of crime, drugs and either prison or death

    empowerment is a worthy achievment

    but reality is those sudanese women as well as the young ghetto single mothers of multiple children are all in situations that cannot be rectified unless they themselves acknowledge paradim shifts must take place


  • Frankd


    what if all those unwashed huddled masses yearning to be EMPOWERED actually are, and become a future regiment of women emeldo marcoes

    as i see a poor women cleaning a rich womans laundry someday wants to become that rich woman

    that is what empowerment means to a poor uneducated woman

  • Frankd


    and lastly, if women want to be taken seriously they MUST abandon TWO particular well known feminine traits;

    1) abandon the priviledge to change one’s mind on a whim without regard or resposibility for cost and / or inconvienience to others just becasue it  a woman’s “perogative” to do so

    2) abandon the idea to “acquire by desire” meaning yes using sexual favors as a way to obtain one’s objectives circumventing conventional means and leap-froggin others in line

    a common mans position is,  i have a mother, a wife, daughters, sisters, nieces and aunts BUT i would NOT go into business with ANY of them – women are too unpredictable and unreliable in business operations especially contractually binding terms and agreements

  • Jjaayy

    Did not notice Eve being provocative…really?

Sep 1, 2014
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