Activist Eve Ensler’s Unapologetic Reasons For Turning ‘Mad Max’ Into A Feminist Film

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Eve Ensler created the Vagina Monologues roughly 20 years ago and since then has been on a world-changing whirlwind advocating the rights of women and girls who have been sexually abused or the victims of sexual violence. She started the V Day organization and One Billion Rising movement where girls all over the world gather on Feb 14th each year to advocate the victims of gender-based violence and sexual violence.

Vagina Monologues became a turning point for women who how had a powerful took to discuss sex, body image and other taboos in a way that empowered them. People like Oprah Winfrey and Brooke Shields have been among the shows stellar performers over the years.

Her revolutionary approach to tackling these serious issues through the use of dance, arts and creativity has sparked a generation in terms of how to become an activist and world-changer. It is with this in mind that we can clearly see why she was asked by film director George Miller to be a consultant on his latest installment of ‘Mad Max: Road to Fury’.

Yes, you have all no doubt heard about or read the online furore over her part in turning this well-loved action franchise into a “feminist film”. We’re not even going to bother linking to some of these articles because let’s face it, they’re just negative and whiny. Why can’t females be the focus of an action film without being sexually objectified in some manner? So what if Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa is just as much the focus as her on-screen counterpart Max played by Tom Hardy!

If it’s good enough for George Miller and Hollywood, then we’ll take it as a step forward in an industry that has become so good at stereotyping what women can and can’t do on screen depending on their age, race, sexuality etc.

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Part of the story line involves a group of young female sex slaves, who Furiosa and Max are trying to rescue. Eve was brought on to talk to the actresses, including Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, about what it was like working with girls rescued from the sex-trafficking industry.

In an interview with the BBC the 4x TED Talk speaker talks unapologetically about why her role in the making of this film was necessary, and also why the Vagina Monologues is still very powerful in women’s lives today.

“Theater is one of the most powerful tools on the planet to bring about any kind of revolutionary change,” she said.

“Nobody knew other women were having that experience because we weren’t talking about it. And when women discovered that this was a universal experience, they were suddenly not alone, so that gave them power.”

Another reason is that when it comes to gender equality, compared to 20 years ago, the needle hasn’t moved that much in our favor but there are slow and small steps being taken.

“There’s part of me that always thinks, ‘Oh God, this play will eventually become outdated’. And then I think, ‘Why hasn’t it become outdated? Why are we still here, struggling against patriarchy and struggling where women are yet to feel liberated in terms of their sexuality and being equal in the world?'”

When it came to finding someone to tell the young actresses playing sex slaves in the film what life is really like for someone like that in the real world, there is no one more qualified than Eve.

“Because I’ve spent a lot of time in places like Bosnia, Haiti, Afghanistan and Congo, [George Miller] wanted me to give them context about what happens with women who are trafficked and enslaved and raped,” she said.

For someone who has been fighting the cause of feminism for two decades, we have no doubt she has seen her fair share of angry anti-feminists who don’t believe in the movement. Her response to the backlash over this film proves that feminism isn’t just a great idea to her, it is necessary and worth battling the critics over.

“People sometimes don’t know what feminism means. To me feminism is not that complex. It means women are equal. We have equal roles, equal rights, equal pay. If you look at this film from an objective point of view, women are equally capable of fighting. Women have equal desires. Women are independent and have agency over their own lives. They exist without men,” she said.

“To me, what was very exciting about this film was the range of women characters and the range of ages. They weren’t relegated to one role. To me that’s feminism.”

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Just like she mentioned earlier where theater can be a powerful tool for change, times that by 1000 and you have Hollywood – an undisputed communication vehicle that transcends all types of borders because everyone around the world wants entertainment. And why not use that as an excuse to share important social messages? To the people crying foul over their fave action flick being “hijacked” by feminists because action films don’t need to have important messages, then perhaps you should stop watching films altogether because if you dig a little deeper, there are plenty of movies that contain a social conscience in their narrative.

‘Mad Max’ is sending a loud and clear message that it is about time the public got used to seeing women in action films as something other than sexual fodder.

“I haven’t seen many films in my life where women are portrayed as equally capable of defending themselves and other people. This is an action movie. Do I go to action movies? No. But I do believe those films have an enormous impact on mainstream culture. To see a film where women are capable fighters and capable of determining their own destiny to me is significant,” said Eve about the potential impact of this film.

“I’ve already heard from so many women who are happy to see women not portrayed as pathetic. I also love the older women in that film – that was brilliant. When do we even see older women in movies? The older women get, the more amazing they get. And in culture, they get more and more erased. So that alone was significant.”

We don’t care what the critics and haters say, we’re stoked to finally have an action film where women are portrayed as equals alongside men. Be warned naysayers, it won’t be the last. Eve Ensler is a great example of modern day feminism in the face of patriarchy that is desperately clinging to its ever-thinning tendrils of grey baby-boomer hair.

To live in a world where women are strong, confident and respected as equals, and where men benefit from working alongside these women while offering their own brand of masculinity that isn’t threatened by the feminine, now that’s a world worth fighting for, mad max style!

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