If you have half a day, a cup of tea, and you’ve settled into your favourite reading space, Eve Ensler’s (2013) In the Body of the World is surely a book that will keep you inspired, curious, in awe, concerned, and thinking.
The author of the well known, The Vagina Monologues, tells her heart wrenching experience of cancer everywhere in her core. She speaks about the trauma in the Congo and of girls and women being sexually assaulted, raped, cut, torn, broken, and any other (un)imaginable act of harm to a body one could fester up. She tells her own childhood story of rape and abuse. As soon as you grapple with the trauma individuals face, near and far, you learn that Ensler has cancer, with a capital C!
Ensler writes, “My body has been sculpting this tumour for years, holding the pieces of pain, the clay residue of memories. It is a huge work and it has taken everything” (p.27), to share how her personal experiences of being penetrated without desire along with the thousands of women around the globe, specifically in the Congo, has presented in the form of Cancer. As you read about Ensler’s long and hard battle through cancer treatment it is hard to stop wondering about the women in the Congo and the City of Joy; a place for women to learn, share, connect, and be safe in the Bukavo, Congo. But do not fret, Ensler keeps you connected with anecdotes of her daily phone calls to Mama C and updates on the progress of the City of Joy’s construction.
In the last chapter, what Ensler calls the Second Wind, is when I start to wonder how many more experiences and narratives of trauma and torture need to occur before we, as a society, begin to work together to care for one another. I won’t spoil the end of the book, it is a great ending, but I do stop to ponder about what those of us in the trauma employment field are currently doing, what we have done in the past, and what we need to do in the future to seize such acts of violence. Now, with the help of Ensler, I also think about the many women I met during my short career in Domestic Violence and how many of them had or have cervical or ovarian cancer and how their bodies are presenting the pain in a very real manner after years of hiding their suffering.
The power of the body is beyond what many of us know, I am positive! Thank you Ensler for your narrative, truth, vision into the happenings globally and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.