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Friday, February 17, 2017

Extra Credit: LIPS

This past weekend, I performed in (and attended) the show LIPS by V-Day Coalition, which normally puts on the Vagina Monologues every year. In my opinion, despite its many flaws, the Vagina Monologues remain a powerful and relevant piece, especially because it is centered on bodies, which I think women are still taught to be ashamed of. I do agree with V-Day Coalition, however, that the narrators of the Vagina Monologues do not represent the UCLA community, because they are almost all straight white women. LIPS, instead, featured stories by Bruins and is meant to include students of other racial, gender, and sexual backgrounds and experiences.

Watching the entire production come together has been an amazing experience, and so many of the monologues are heartbreaking or hilarious or just perfectly pure and warm that even after the dozenth time hearing them, I still get caught up in the story of each person. They are all just so open and honest, too. Among my favorites are "The Fat's Out of the Bag" in which Maggie snappily tells the story of how she came to accept both being fat and a lesbian (unfortunately, I realized, the only intersectional piece in LIPS) and "The Threesome Magnet" in which Chelsea executes a hilariously high-energy rant about the traps and expectations of bisexuality. The monologue I performed, "Let it Bleed," was raw and aching but overwhelmingly beautiful (and I hope I did it justice).

I think LIPS is easy to criticize, because all productions like this are. I have some criticisms for it and I've certainly heard others, especially from within the queer community, but I think overwhelmingly that I'm really impressed with the steps V-Day Coalition has taken to rectify the issues with The Vagina Monologues and to make an inclusive, Bruin-made production of our own. They've done a really good job of acknowledging its limitations and for a first run, the monologues do capture such a diverse range of experiences. I hope to see V-Day Coalition and LIPS continue to grow.


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