What is the secret life of girls around the world?
At the NOW (National Organization for Women) conference I attended in June, playwright Eve Ensler delivered the keynote speech. Ensler, who is featured in JWA’s online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, was a riveting speaker whose passionate words truly rallied me to action. I’ve been hoping to see one of her plays ever since. Luckily, her newest show Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, is now playing Off-Broadway, and I was able to get tickets!
The sheer awesomeness of Emotional Creature truly floored me. Walking out of the theater, I was at a loss for words and just kept repeating, “That was brilliant. That was brilliant. That was brilliant.” The play certainly was absolutely brilliant and extremely well-made. It featured six extremely talented women actors, all of whom played different characters in various scenes. They delivered a powerful message about the state of girls today, from upper-middle class Midwestern America to the exploitative factories of China. Although Emotional Creature dealt with some very serious topics, humor was sprinkled throughout the show, creating some comic relief and an interesting contrast.
The fact that the show had true multiculturalism really appealed to me. Of the six cast members, two were African-American, one was Asian-American, one was Middle Eastern, and two were white. The subject matter dealt with issues from almost every continent, from female genital mutilation in Africa to being accepted by the popular crowd in North America. Although Emotional Creature really celebrated diversity, my mother picked up on the fact that all the actors were relatively thin. The heaviest one was only around a size eight. Considering that the show had a whole scene dedicated to body image and eating disorders, it’s surprising that all of the actors had a similar, thin build.
Another thing I really liked was how Emotional Creature equated Western girls’ problems with international issues. When I heard Ensler speak at the NOW conference about her work helping African survivors of violence rebuild their lives, I felt almost guilty for being so concerned about issues like equal pay and the glass ceiling. How can I be worried about women entering the Senate when there are women out there who are subjected to horrendous violence on a daily basis? The contrast is so stark. So, I really appreciated that Emotional Creature spent just as much time on the social pressures Western girls feel to live up to their parents’ expectations as it did on sex trafficking in Eastern Europe. While sex trafficking is clearly a more serious problem than feeling obligated to be perfect for your parents, anything can be difficult for those going through it.
Although Emotional Creature is an hour and a half long, it felt like a few minutes had gone by when the house lights went up. Both my mother and I wished there was a second act, since the first part was so fascinating and informative. The play was truly an inside look at the secret life of girls, exploring the emotions girls feel and the unique situations that only girls live through.
In addition to writing plays, Eve Ensler is a feminist activist who created “V-Girls,” a youth-driven movement that was inspired by Emotional Creature and is dedicated to empowering girls around the world. I know that I was moved to action by seeing the show, and I hope that I wrote a good enough review to make you want to get off the Internet and improve women’s lives, too!
For ideas on how to take action, check out the V-Girls website. Ensler also created “V-Day” and its “One Billion Rising” campaign. One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten, and that is absolutely unacceptable. To protest this senseless violence, women and those who love them will rise on February 14, 2013, moving the earth and activating individuals across the world. One billion women violated is one billion too many. How can we stand idly by? It is our duty to demand an end to violence against women. If we don’t, who will?
Emotional Creature will be playing at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center through January 13, 2013.