Eve Ensler has a dream.
The feminist writer of The Vagina Monologues outlined competing visions for America and the world at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s An Evening with Women. There, she challenged audience members to fight against the dream of destruction and for the dream of imagination, freedom, and inclusion.
Ensler defined the former as the so-called “American dream, corrupted and perpetuated by Ronald Reagan who I hold responsible for the death of America.” This dream, said the feminist, is defined by “violent capitalism of striving individualism, competitive ‘take what is mine’ at the expense of others, ‘amass as much fortune as you can’ to the detriment of many.”
This dream, said Ensler, “is responsible for soul murder, a massive opioid addiction, and innocent black men and women gunned down by the police. It is responsible for more loneliness, and wars, and hatred, and hierarchies, and poverty, and homophobia, and transphobia… That dream rapes the earth and women’s bodies, and builds walls, and allows for sustained and unexamined racism, orders bans, and grabs pussies.”
“That dream fracks and fucks and pillages and exploits and plunders. That is not my dream,” she said.
Ensler described another dream of how to live that, in recent years, had been gaining ground in hearts and minds, a vision that included greater freedoms for LGBT people, people of color, women, and other vulnerable communities, which paved the way for victories like marriage equality: “We were truly deeply evolving, beginning to claim sacred ground, beginning to come together, beginning to make a world of inclusion and care and celebration.”
“That’s why the scared and broken ones and mainly white men have gone insane. That’s why they have come back with a vengeance,” she said.
“That’s why they moved so fast to annihilate the rules and the Constitution and the discourse and the press and the arts and the very fabric of our existence,” she continued. “That’s why they have begun to fire anyone and everyone who questions and investigates their destruction of our dream, that’s why they’ve employed a strongman, a daddy savior, a decisive madman, a maniac, a fear-carrying tyrant to protect and annihilate.”
At the Hollywood Palladium Saturday, Ensler delivered a call-to-arms to the crowd of “gender-fluid, nonconforming, beautiful, gay, evolving beyond identity, new identity, women, trans women, bi women, hot women, lesbian, pussy-loving, breast-sucking men and women, nongender, intersex … brave gender warriors,” whom she called “the freedom fighters.”
“The liberation of gender is the liberation of binaries and binaries keep hierarchies in place. You free the binary, you throw open the door.”
“Free the binary and you end the war, the fight, the pain, the self-hatred, the loneliness. Free the binary, you free the body. Free the body, you free the imagination. And imagination is the main antidote we have to their virus, the mystical dream that is in the process of being imagined by us all.”
“Are we ready to love each other and the earth so deep…. That our love becomes not only the Resistance – because that’s not enough —it becomes the fluid architecture of the new world?”
Lorri L. Jean, the CEO of the LGBT Center — the L.A. LGBT community’s largest provider of health, housing, and human services — turned fear on its head later in the evening, when she reminded those present of all the battles already fought and victories gained — from the AIDS crisis to same-sex marriage to the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“Fighting for justice and winning is what we know how to do,” she said to the cheering audience. “We must remember that not only are we on the right side of history. But that we are fierce and resilient and inspired. We must use that power to ensure that we do more than simply weather the story. We must be the storm!”
Watch Ensler’s speech below.