She came on the radar as the woman who gave a voice to a previously unmentionable—the vagina. Today it might seem ridiculous, but as Pat Mitchell, President of the Paley Center and the host for “An Evening with Eve Ensler” recalled, there was the time when she interviewed Ensler for CNN, and the word vagina could not be used. That night, it wasn’t an issue.
Back in the 90s, Ensler had decided to explore why the vagina was such a taboo subject. Wondering how many women had lived their whole lives without having an orgasm, she reached out with the call, “If you want to discuss your vagina—contact me.” Moving into uncharted territory nobody else was talking about, she interviewed over 200 women. Ensler learned that the majority of those who wanted to speak to her had a story about physical invasion—rape and incest—that they needed to share. “It was,” she said, “epidemic.”
In 1996, Ensler began to perform the Vagina Monologues as a one-woman show. It became a pioneering success. HBO came calling. They wanted to film her performance, which expanded the reach of the material way beyond the original theatre venue.
The Vagina Monologues, which has been performed around the world in over 140 countries and has been translated into more than 45 languages, laid the groundwork for V-Day, an international action to end the violence against women and girls.