Eve Ensler

Activist Eve Ensler has written books and plays dedicated to the female body, including "The Vagina Monologues." (Paula Allen/Courtesy / June 1, 2013)

Author and activist Eve Ensler, creator of "The Vagina Monologues," is a survivor of sexual abuse and uterine cancer who has spent years working for women's rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her new memoir, "In the Body of the World," details the mindset she reached undergoing cancer treatment, which she says pushed her to feel connected to her body for the first time.

Physical connection seems to be a focus of Ensler, who says she's sworn off social media.

"It's very fragmented, and it doesn't feel connected," says Ensler, who will read from her new book Saturday in Coral Gables. "You're not really touching people and connecting people, and it creates loneliness and estranges people."

Ensler calls associations through technology "abstract," and says the goal of her work is to connect people to the female body. After "The Vagina Monologues" became popular worldwide, Ensler created V-Day, a series of activist events to end violence against women. It's celebrated around the world throughout the year, though it started on Valentine's Day in 1998.


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"People being able to abuse people and assault people and do all kinds of things on social media without putting their name to it," she says, referring to recent cases of teenage sexual abuse that were made public on Facebook. "There's no accountability. ... All the work we've been doing is against that."

Although Ensler has dedicated her career to getting people acquainted and comfortable with the female body, "The Vagina Monologues" was criticized by feminists early on.

"Some people were freaked out at the beginning," Ensler recalls.

When the play debuted in New York in 1996, psychologist Harriet Lerner accused it of "psychic genital mutilation" for referring only to a woman's vagina, excluding labia and the whole of the reproductive organ. Other critics decried the play's focus on sexual abuse and its negative portrayal of male-female relationships.

"But I'm not a doctor," Ensler says. "I'm a playwright, and I'm an artist. ... I don't think we walk around calling our vaginas, 'vulvas.' If I called the play, 'Vulva [Monologues],' nobody would come."

Ensler will appear 6 p.m. Saturday at the Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., to discuss "In the Body of the World." Tickets were sold-out at presstime, but were available previously at BooksandBooks.com.