Students have raised concerns about author of The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler who is scheduled to speak on campus next Thursday, and have begun organizing methods of dissent towards the event.
Ensler’s talk, “Ending Violence Against Women: The Next Rising Years,” will take place in the ’62 center at 7 p.m. on Thursday. On Tuesday night, “There’s a problem with Eve Ensler” took place as an open conversation to discuss critiques of Ensler. On the day of the lecture, there will be a lunch in Paresky for “conversation about strategies for resistance, protest, and dissent.”
Ensler is an award-winning American playwright and author most renowned for writing the The Vagina Monologues, a play that first debuted in 1996. She is also the founder of V-Day, a non-profit charity that uses artistic performances to raise money to end violence against women and provide help to female victims of violence and sexual abuse.
Student concerns about the event include perceived racism, cissexism, transmisogyny and appropriation of indigenous women’s experiences, among other issues, present in Ensler’s work.
The meeting on Tuesday was intended to be an informative conversation open to the entire community and targeted specifically towards people who are interested in attending the lecture or unaware of Ensler’s critics. The lunch on Thursday will be a more focused conversation about methods of protest, dissent or resistance to the event on the same night, which include boycotting the event or attending and attempting to engage with Ensler if she offers a question and answer session.
Kate Flanagan ’15, has been involved in organizing the events in response to Ensler’s lecture, created a 19-page pamphlet highlighting criticisms against Ensler and distributed it in digital form via Facebook and in physical form around campus on Monday. The pamphlet is a compilation of condensed excerpts from critiques of Ensler, including online articles and essays, interviews by other sources and quotes from Ensler herself. The material addresses issues surrounding Ensler’s written pieces, her comments on Trevon Martin, her V-Day campaign and other facets of her work and activism.
The introduction to the pamphlet states that the authors of much of the quoted material have experienced “violence and erasure” in Ensler’s work.”
Flanagan stated that their primary motivation is not to change people’s minds so much as it is to shed light on criticisms of a well-known figure that many on campus are unfamiliar with.
“We’re bringing a speaker to campus that there’s a lot of criticisms about,” Flanagan said, “and I and other people feel that those criticisms were not always heard.” They added that they just want a “fuller conversation” surrounding the issues.
In Flanagan’s conversations with students, faculty and staff, they have found that many members of the College community are unaware of these criticisms. Flanagan and their co-organizers share a core desire to make the campus more aware of critiques of Ensler. “To me, these efforts will be successful,” Flanagan said, “if more people are talking about the critiques we’re trying to draw attention to.”