* Ensler was raised in the affluent New York City suburb of Scarsdale. She claims that from the age of five, until she was ten, she was “deeply abused both sexually and physically” by her father. “He hit me with belts, beat me, threw me,” Ensler recalls. “He invaded me in ways completely and totally inappropriately [sic].” As a result, says Ensler, she grew up “very sad, very angry, very defiant.”
* In the early 1970s Ensler attended Vermont’s Middlebury College, where she established a reputation as a militant feminist. After graduating in 1975, she became involved in a series of abusive relationships with men, and she herself grew increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol. Ensler then met a New York City bartender named Richard McDermott, who persuaded her to enter a rehab program and developed a personal relationship with her. The couple married in 1978 and divorced ten years later. Ensler subsequently had a long live-in relationship with the Israeli artist and psychotherapist Ariel Orr Jordan.
* In 1999, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton attended a reading of Ensler’s Necessary Targets at the Kennedy Center in Washington. “The First Lady really became enamored of the play,” said a happy Ensler afterwards, “and she’s going to do the introduction to the foreword of it when it is published. She gave an incredible speech that night of the reading, because she’s … been a real fighter for women’s rights.”
* On December 5, 2008, Ensler and a number of fellow feminist leaders gathered in New York to craft an open letter to president-elect Barack Obama, telling him that “we are are honored and proud to have you lead the nation during this historic time.” They then called on Obama to “ensure that women are equally represented in everything, [including] your administration’s infrastructure [and] its decision-making and solution building”; to “exercise leadership in dismantling the structures that perpetuate gender inequality [and] impede women’s full participation in society”; to make “long-term investments in women’s education, health and leadership”; and to address “economic structures” that “continue to marginalize women.” Among Ensler’s co-signatories were Linda Basch and Sara Gould.
* Over the years, Ensler has made campaign contributions to a number of left-wing political candidates, including Barbara Boxer, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Jan Schakowsky, Charles Schumer, and others. She has also given money to the Web-based political network MoveOn.org.