Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Insecure at Last by Eve Ensler

Insecure at Last: Losing it in Our Security Obsessed World by Eve Ensler is a collection of Ensler’s political perspective, a further look at her ongoing work with ending the global violence against women, and expressions of her own frustration at how the drive for security and the fight against terrorism has compromised American security as evidenced by how poorly the powers that be responded during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

If you are not a hard-line liberal, you will find little to like in this book.  Just go read Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck and be happy.  But if you agree even moderately with Ensler’s views, and it is hard to see how anyone who hasn’t visited other countries to actually see firsthand what is happening to women would disagree with what she’s seen, then you will find much to make you despair in this book.

The first part focuses a great deal on global situations and how women are still being raped, victimized, brutalized in nations in the Middle East, in Africa, in South America, etc.  She pulls no punches when talking about the problems that continue to perpetuate right here in the United States.  Within glibly titled chapters like “Vaginas–More Terrifying Than Scud Missiles,” Ensler explores her own challenges in facing her particular fears and how she worked through her preconceived judgments and notions.

By part three, she is being even more intimate in sharing her own experiences, giving the reader an idea of where her own pain and anger are rooted.  Part four initially carries on in this tone but then shifts rather jarringly back to Hurricane Katrina.  The emotional digression is not the least objectionable point in which she seems to jump from one context and continent to another.  Some of the chapters flow into the next while others seem to be jammed in for effect or even shock value.  I don’t know if the book would have been better served if she had woven her personal story more fluidly throughout the book or if the integrity of the text itself needs a stronger and more assertive editor.

In the end, it feels more like Eve Ensler wanted to get up on her soap box with a promise of spiritual and/or emotional depth (she doesn't even really offer any feminist or political insight).but merely ended up screaming angrily at the top of her lungs.  I guess, when you think about it, this book may be the exception that proves the rule that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  I expect more from Ensler and this was not it.

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