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Dec 12 2013

She has always been drawn to holes

An item from last May is being passed around on Twitter and Facebook today – Eve Ensler writing about fistula and…well, Eve Ensler.

She had a fistula because she had uterine cancer, you see.

My friend Paul says to me, “It’s like you’ve got Congo Stigmata.” Well, actually, almost everyone said it in one way or another. “It doesn’t surprise me, Eve, of course. All those stories of rape over all these years. The women have entered you.” And at first I pushed this away because it’s not really a great advertising for activism. Come care about others, listen to their stories and their pain, and you can contact it too.

Hmmmno. That’s not the problem. The problem is that rape in the Congo isn’t about you. It isn’t something you should invoke as a way of talking about you. Ever.

Dr Handsome, my colon doctor, e-mailed Dr Deb the day after the surgery and said he had been unable to sleep because he was so in awe of the mystery of what they had found. He said, “These findings are not medical, they are not science. They are spiritual.”

Another way not to talk about rape in the Congo.

I have always been drawn to holes. Black holes. Infinite holes. Impossible holes. Absences. Gaps, tears in membranes. Fistulas. Obstetric fistulas occur because of extended difficult labor. Neccesary blood is unable to flow to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder. As a result, the tissues die and a hole forms through which urine or feces flow uncontrollably. In the Congo fistulas have been caused by rape, in particular gang rape, and rape with foreign objects like bottles or sticks. So many thousands of women in eastern Congo have suffered fistulas from rape that the injury is considered a crime of combat.

Ohhh myyyyyyy godddddddd that is so not a way to talk about rape in the Congo. It’s not a fucking literary conceit, it’s not a metaphor, and it’s sure as hell nothing to do with any distant safe prosperous woman’s literary interest in “holes.” It’s not an occasion to drop sophisticated chat about holes as absences. Just don’t. Do not.

After three trips to the Congo, I needed to see a fistula. I asked to sit in on a reparative operation. I need to know the shape of this hole, the size of this hole. I needed to know what a woman’s insides looked like when her most essential cellular tissue had been punctured by a stick or penis or penises. Wearing a mask and gown, I peered

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

There in the lining was an undeniable hole, a rip, a tear in the essential story. It was almost a perfect circle, the size of a quarter may be, too big to prevent things from getting in or from falling out. I couldn’t help but think of the sky, of the membrane of the sky and the rip in the ozone. Humans had become hole makers. Bullet holes and drilled holes, hurt holes, greed holes, rape holes. Holes in membrane that function to protect the surface or bodily organ.

Yes; holes. In this case, physical injuries, which are not playthings for Eve Enslers to bat around like so many ping pong balls. (Hey didja ever stop to think that balls are holes turned inside out? Wo, deep, huh?)

Seriously; don’t ever do that. Don’t treat horrors as sources of aesthetic “play” and don’t treat them as pretexts to talk about your Self. Don’t be an Eve Ensler.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Eamon Knight

    What’s with the doctor getting all “Oh, wow!” about her fistula? It’s bizarre.

  2. 2
    karmacat

    It just struck me that she didn’t talk about the woman with the “hole.” She is so focused on the “hole” that she deleted the woman.

  3. 3
    rnilsson

    Goin’ hole hog

  4. 4
    sailor1031

    She doesn’t talk about the congolese woman because she’s not writing about her. She’s writing about herself – Eve Ensler. The fine art of Narcissism. Lot of it about!

  5. 5
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    There is something special about her particular flavour of feminism, as it seems entirely composed of nothing but Eve Ensler, and forcibly reducing every single cis woman (and the odd tokenized, clinically described and fetishized trans* woman) to a series of holes. Seems rather like a thorough agreement with everything about patriarchy when it comes to essentializing women.

  6. 6
    Artor

    While obsessing about holes, it sounds like Ensler forgot the First Rule of Holes. If you’re in one, stop digging.

  7. 7
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    The Vagina Monologues was very important to me a few years back. It was through participating in that and V-Day that I got involved in volunteer work for domestic and rape crisis centers. I respect what Eve has done to draw attention to the horrors in Juarez, the Congo and right here at home. I liked The Good Body. But, this is just awful. I’d knew her TEDtalk was woo-y, but this is so much more disappointing.

  8. 8
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    My friend Paul says to me, “It’s like you’ve got Congo Stigmata.” Well, actually, almost everyone said it in one way or another. “It doesn’t surprise me, Eve, of course. All those stories of rape over all these years. The women have entered you.” And at first I pushed this away because it’s not really a great advertising for activism.

    Not because it’s a terrible and patently false notion?

    Dr Handsome, my colon doctor, e-mailed Dr Deb the day after the surgery and said he had been unable to sleep because he was so in awe of the mystery of what they had found. He said, “These findings are not medical, they are not science. They are spiritual.”

    Get a new doctor.

    …her most essential cellular tissue…

    No.

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    Whiskey? Tango?? Foxtrot??? Who writes this stuff? More to the point, who writes this stuff without cringing in weapons-grade embarrassment at the thought of someone else seeing it? I’ve never written anything that insipid, and if I did, I’d burn it, shred it, bury it, disown it, and deny even being in the town I’d written it in.

    Seriously, WTF?!

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