Eve Ensler: Embrace Your Inner Girl at TED Conference (Full Transcript)

Eve Ensler


Namaste! Good morning.

I’m very happy to be here in India. And I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have learned over these last particularly 11 years with V-Day and “The Vagina Monologues,” traveling the world, essentially meeting with women and girls across the planet to stop violence against women.

What I want to talk about today is this particular cell, or grouping of cells, that is in each and every one of us. And I want to call it the girl cell. And it’s in men as well as in women.

I want you to imagine that this particular grouping of cells is central to the evolution of our species and the continuation of the human race.

And I want you imagine that at some point in history a group of powerful people invested in owning and controlling the world understood that the suppression of this particular cell, the oppression of these cells, the reinterpretation of these cells, the undermining of these cells, getting us to believe in the weakness of these cells and the crushing, eradicating, destroying, reducing these cells, basically began the process of killing off the girl cell, which was, by the way, patriarchy.

I want you to imagine that the girl is a chip in the huge macrocosm of collective consciousness. And it is essential to balance, to wisdom and to actually the future of all of us. And then I want you to imagine that this girl cell is compassion, and it’s empathy, and it’s passion itself, and it’s vulnerability, and it’s openness, and it’s intensity, and it’s association, and it’s relationship, and it is intuitive.

And then let’s think how compassion informs wisdom, and that vulnerability is our greatest strength, and that emotions have inherent logic, which lead to radical, appropriate, saving action. And then let’s remember that we’ve been taught the exact opposite by the powers that be, that compassion clouds your thinking, that it gets in the way, that vulnerability is weakness, that emotions are not to be trusted, and you’re not supposed to take things personally, which is one of my favorites.

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I think the whole world has essentially been brought up not to be a girl. How do we bring up boys? What does it mean to be a boy? To be a boy really means not to be a girl To be a man means not to be a girl.

To be a woman means not to be a girl. To be strong means not to be a girl. To be a leader means not to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that. And I’d also like to say that the irony of course, is that denying girl, suppressing girl, suppressing emotion, refusing feeling has lead thus here.

Where we have now come to live in a world where the most extreme forms of violence, the most horrific poverty, genocide, mass rapes, the destruction of the Earth, is completely out of control. And because we have suppressed our girl cells and suppressed our girl-ship, we do not feel what is going on.

So, we are not being charged with the adequate response to what is happening. I want to talk a little bit about the Democratic Republic of Congo. For me, it was the turning point of my life.

I have spent a lot of time there in the last three years. I feel up to that point I had seen a lot in the world, a lot of violence. I essentially lived in the rape mines of the world for the last 12 years. But the Democratic Republic of Congo really was the turning point in my soul. I went and I spent time in a place called Bukavu in a hospital called the Panzi Hospital, with a doctor who was as close to a saint as any person I’ve ever met.

His name is Dr Denis Mukwege. In the Congo, for those of you who don’t know, there has been a war raging for the last 12 years, a war that has killed nearly six million people. It is estimated that somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 women have been raped there. When I spent my first weeks at Panzi hospital I sat with women who sat and lined up every day to tell me their stories.

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