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Friday, March 3, 2017

EC: LIPS

For the past five years, the V-Day Coalition at UCLA--a student group that celebrates empowering women while taking a stand against gendered-violence and discussing sexuality--in partnership with UCLA Residential Life, have organized the Vagina Monologues. VM is a play written by Eve Ensler in 1996, showcasing the stories told by women relating to their vagina and touching on topics such as sex, love, rape, masturbation, birth and orgasm. However, the show was not as nuanced and inclusive, or even as diverse, as the student population here at UCLA. VM seemingly only told the stories of cis-gendered, heterosexual women and equated sex with gender, and apologized while only offering a short insert on the importance of intersectionality in the program and the commented on the existence of transgender people on a small easle board in the venue's lobby. With growing frustration from both the audience and organizers including myself, we decided to scratch the entire program and go back to the drawing board: a new set of monologues written for and by UCLA students.

This year, I helped organize LIPS, a show that aims to narrate the lives of all kinds of feminists and their allies, including non-binary and gender-nonconforming folks. Beginning with the show's title, this new creation falls less than perfect and has room for improvement but still successfully aimed at sharing the message "you do not have to be a woman to celebrate womanhood," as read on the program. Vagina Monologues indicated that in order to be a woman, you need a vagina and forgot that there are some people who have vaginas but do not identify women. LIPS' title, while still a sexual 
innuendo for the anatomy of the vulva, promotes a second hint at something that all women do have, and that is lips on our faces, or voices, to be able to narrate and share stories. And that is what LIPS did.

The show featured 16 monologues that ranged from hilarious and warm to frustrating and heart-breaking. For example, our classmate Midori performed a monologue about living with an eating disorder and was able to showcase the complexities of living in this state no matter what gender identity the person was. And there were other clearly intersectional monologues, such as "For The Chingonas" written, performed and narrated by an African-Latina woman, and monologues which showcased the lives of those rarely highlighted in mainstream media such as a monologue entitled "Tinder": "Tinder seemed like a doable option for a pansexual nonbinary single-but-ready-to-mingle human like me."

Although LIPS did not see the same audience as VM attracted last year (actual numbers as: 621 versus 985) because of marketing/branding, I believe LIPS was a success and only has the potential to continue improving.



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