Review: In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler

You need community, and you need friends, and you need support to wake up.
You cannot do it alone.
– Eve Ensler

In the Body of the World is Eve Ensler’s best work.  It is her journey back from the abuse she experienced as a child.  The first paragraph powerfully grabbed my soul:

A mother’s body against a child’s body makes a place.  It says you are here.  Without this body against your body there is no place.  I envy people who miss their mother.  Or miss a place or know something called home.  The absence of a body against my body creates a gap, a hole, a hunger.  This hunger determined my life.

Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler

I was hungry for the stories of other women
who had experienced violence and suffering. . .
desperate for a way home.
– Eve Ensler

I had pre-ordered the book from Amazon and started reading it the minute UPS delivered it.  I couldn’t stop reading.  I laughed and I cried.  Her story is my story.  Her story is your story.  My recommendation is to buy the book because you are going to want to read it more than once and underline the passages that speak to your soul.  Survivors of sexual abuse and incest, for example, will relate to:

A body pressed against your body is the beginning of nest.  I grew up not in a home but in a kind of free fall of anger and violence that led to a life of constant movement, of leaving and falling.  It is why at one point I couldn’t stop drinking and fucking.  Why I needed people to touch me all the time. . .


My body was a burden.
I saw it as something that unfortunately had to be maintained.
I had little patience for its needs. . .
My body that I had been forced to evacuate when my father invaded and
then violated me.
And so I lived as a breathless, rapacious machine programmed
for striving and accomplishment. . .
Cancer was an alchemist, an agent of change.
. . .the idea of dying from cancer in my vagina was just too
fucking ironic and weird.
– Eve Ensler

If you are lucky that her book tour comes to a city near you, you are going to want to see Ms. Ensler in person.  There’s a reason a therapist recommended her memoir to one of the visitors to this site.  In this memoir, Ms. Ensler shares the sage wisdom and brilliance of her own therapist, Sue:

Sue was the first person who was not afraid of my memories. . .Sue was a psychic surgeon. . .she does. . .a genius spin, a way of seeing things that immediately and spontaneously unlocks the neurosis. . .a way to reframe the entire chemo experience.  She says, “The chemo is not for you,  It is for the cancer, for all the past crimes, it’s for your father, it’s for the rapists, it’s for the perpetrators.  You’re going to poison them now and they are never coming back.  Chemo will purge the badness that was projected onto you but was never yours.  I have total faith in your resilience and the magical capacities of your body and soul for healing.  Your job is to welcome the chemo as an empathetic warrior, who is coming in to rescue your innocence by killing off the perpetrator who got inside you.  You have many bodies; new ones will be born out of this transformational time of love and care. . .the chemo is fighting on your behalf. . .restoring wholeness, innocence, peace.  Welcome the chemo as empathetic warrior.”


Let us turn our pain into power, our victimhood to fire,
our self-hatred to action, our self-obsession to service.
– Eve Ensler

Ms. Ensler was diagnosed with uterine cancer on March 17, 2010.  Women who have been abused have a higher incidence of illness and are at a greater risk of cancer.  Ms. Ensler has a family history of cancer, but I do not.  Yet, I had my own close call with cancer the summer of 2009.  It was a sobering wake-up call that I needed to eliminate the stress from my life.  As I read the horrors of Ms. Ensler’s cancer (including wearing a bag for her poop that periodically burst), I found myself profoundly grateful I had a therapist that summer who taught me self-care.

Ms. Ensler was surrounded by the love and care of family, friends, and colleagues.  She tapped into the fighting spirit of Muhammad Ali, the spiritual guidance of the Buddha Tara, and art therapy.  Her journey has lessons for all abuse survivors as well as those battling cancer.

Eve Ensler in London

Eve Ensler in London

V-Day activist Maria Shriver returned to NBC News with her interview with Eve on April 30, 2013:

We are told from a very young age that there is going to be this person who comes into our lives ~ the big love.  To be honest with you, I never fully bought it.  Then, one day it occurred to me. . .there were so many people in my life loving me when I got sick.  This was the love I had been waiting for. . .

Love brings people further than my anger used to. . .

Related Posts and Pages:

V-Day:  A Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls

One Billion Rising

Sexual Abuse, There Is Hope

V-Girls:  I Am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler [book review]

Eve Ensler:  Until the Violence Stops [review of Ms. Ensler’s memoir Insecure at Last]

Impact of Domestic Abuse on Health

4 responses to “Review: In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler

  1. I’m so touched you included my post in your review!! Biggest smile.. I loved this post and again amazing job. I’m definitely going to order this book! I’m reading now for the second time insecure at last its sucks a great book 🙂

  2. Pingback: I LOVE BEING A GIRL: EVE ENSLER | Friend Nature·

  3. Pingback: “Let Fury Have The Hour”, film by Antonio D’Ambrosio. Artist’s Unite! | Friend Nature·

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