Response to Eve Ensler’s open letter to Trayvon Martin

Eve Ensler recently published an open letter to Trayvon Martin in response to Zimmerman’s verdict. 

Ensler is well-known for her production of The Vagina Monologues and her organization V-Day. Overall, she is the activist people are most likely to think of when the topic of violence against women is brought up.

But her letter, in my opinion, was a poorly done. While her heart may have been in the right place, the claims she made disregarded the true problems of racism.

Ensler attempts to explain that the issues with racism are the same as violence against women:

But as a woman, there are things I do know and things that I have experienced that bring us into the same story, the same struggle. I know for example what it is like to walk the streets, any streets, (particularly at dusk or dark) and be totally vulnerable, in trepidation and terror. I know what it’s like to be worried about being followed, to speed up my step or slow down and pretend to be casual. It’s a pity the prosecutors were unable to communicate your terror to the all-female jury, as we would hope they would have connected. I know what it feels like to be attacked or raped and be blamed for it because of what I was wearing (hoodie =short skirt). I know what it is like to be someone whose opinions and experience are essentially perceived as inferior and untrustworthy. I know what it feels like to be told I am to blame for violence inflicted on me by the way I walk or look or carry myself or time of day I go out.

While struggles may be similar in some regards, the two issues are not identical and therefore need to be addressed in different ways.

After spending time explaining how she and Martin are alike, she goes on to talk about her latest campaign, One Billion Rising for Justice.

This February 14, 2014, women and men will rise all over the planet for justice, One Billion Rising for Justice, for an end to violence against women, for an end to the humiliation and degradation of men which leads to violence. We will rise for an end to guns and Stand Your Ground laws where unarmed 17-year-olds are shot down dead. We will rise to say Justice involves the whole story — the story of race, of class, of gender. Our struggles are one.

The last sentence of this paragraph is what gets me. As stated before, pain caused by racism or violence against women cannot be treated as though they are the same thing.

While I think that her goal of ending violence against women is important, her open letter just seemed like her pushing her own agenda rather than focus on the actual problems at hand.

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4 thoughts on “Response to Eve Ensler’s open letter to Trayvon Martin

  1. agreed. white feminists have a tendency of doing this, though. sucks.

  2. Unfortunately true. But I think it’s a bigger issue than just white feminists. I would say that white privilege in general is a major cause.

    • oh, no doubt. it’s just that i specifically see a lot of white feminists co-opting POC’s situations and struggles when it’s beneficial to their own individual causes, though they seem to have very little trouble differentiating themselves any other time. the backlash over a number of beyonce’s accomplishments comes to mind. and let’s not forget the whitewashing during the recent texas filibuster. i could name more, but i can tell we’re on the same page here.

  3. Well said. Definitely on the same page. Thanks for the interesting comments. Really appreciate them!

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