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By Frida Ayala,

“We were worried about vaginas,” declare the women of the Vagina Monologues, the staple of college campuses which continues to be as relevant as ever in the age of the #TimesUp movement. Indeed, the production, whose theme this year was “Your vagina is a world, each of us is a place,” seeks to highlight body autonomy and consent. The Vagina Monologues aren’t here to wallow in the injustices and outrages women endure, but to celebrate and encourage the resilience and fight for justice through diverse and ultimately universal experiences.

This production, the twentieth hosted at Crystal Cove from February 22-24, is unapologetic and confident. Though the word “vagina” is used often — it is, after all, titled the Vagina Monologues — it is a collection of stories about sexuality, gender, self-love and resilience. We are invited into the reflections of a woman (played by Alexis Cornier) who is implicitly and explicitly blamed for her husband’s infidelity for having hair you-know-where. A transgender woman (portrayed by Castor Yip), takes the audience through a painful journey complicated by violence, prejudice and ignorance. Angele Manalo, portraying a Bosnian woman, grieves for her vagina after she is raped, being not only a woman but also a sort of military target.

In the Vagina Monologues, the audience witnesses an entertaining and empowering production. Each monologue is demanding, whether it be in humor, charm, anger or sorrow but the performances are compelling and creative. The monologues may certainly be considered a sum of its parts, and the whole team succeeds in ensuring they cohere and flow. Even the ending, which is largely a long list of facts, succeeds in large part due to the sobering revelations of the past one and a half years. We are reminded that while women have made progress, much more is to be made when the commander-in-chief is an accused sexual harasser and men in positions of power continue to exploit women. We are asked why decent men are not more indignant, a poignant question considering we are their mothers, sisters and daughters.

I read once that every college student should see the Vagina Monologues. I sadly did not heed the advice immediately, but events conspired to land me on a third row seat at Crystal Cove. I now repeat the former advice and encourage everyone to see it. One can’t fail to appreciate the celebration of womanhood and feel energized to continue the fight. Men should see it too, as they will both enjoy themselves and perhaps learn a thing or two.

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