Palms sweaty and unsure, I was suddenly painfully aware that walking into the auditorium with a notebook might have seemed a little odd. Taking quick action, I attempted to use the program as camouflage before the usher wondered why a lone guy would be taking notes at this performance.

In my rush, I fumbled the incriminating evidence and it tumbled to the floor, in plain sight, pages exposed to the world. Feeling every questioning look and imagining the pervert alarm going off, I hastily retrieved the smoking gun and retreated to my seat, hoping it only seemed like everyone was glancing in my direction.

Then I looked around and realized I wasn’t alone. The audience had plenty of my male brethren. Feeling better, I settled in as the lights dimmed and took a deep breath, unsure of what to expect.

When I exhaled an hour and 40 minutes later, I was ready to hit up the nearest salon. That may be a slight exaggeration, but “The Vagina Monologues” was equally heartwarming, touching and empowering. But most of all it was funny.

Written by Eve Ensler in 1998, the play is a collection of monologues based on interviews with more than 200 women about the most private of subjects. The play was designed to break down barriers and shatter the taboo of talking about sex and the darker subject of violence against women.

Ten years later, the battle is still being fought, but considerable progress has been made and my cringes were reserved for only the most outrageous of aliases. When “monkeybox” and “nappy dugout” elicit outbursts of laughter and not shocked gasps, it’s evident that the taboo is in decline.

Our generation takes this openness for granted. But realizing how far we have come only shows how far there is left to go. This was Cal Poly’s fifth annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” performed by students and staff in celebration of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women.

The performance was so poignant because, although designed for women, it speaks to everyone about self-doubts and being true to yourself. The monologues touched on subjects like hair, what the vagina would say/wear, moaning, orgasms and countless other topics, but they all spoke to a broader message of being happy with who you are.

The first half was hilarious in the way only sex can be, because everyone identifies with uncomfortable and awkward moments. It was a series of stories about women finding themselves through various means, and they were delivered with great timing and genuine feeling.

The tale of a woman who only had accidental orgasms until she went to a workshop, or another about a woman who came to terms with her vagina because “Bob” liked to look at it, were particularly memorable. None of the women are named, though, because this is not supposed to be any one individual’s story.

After intermission, more serious subjects were breached, such as rape and genital mutilation practices still used in parts of Africa. The timely facts interspersed throughout the play helped bring its purpose into focus.

In the end, chuckling to myself about some of the more incredible stories but also reflecting on subjects that often sit on my mental backburner, I walked away happy to have gone, my notebook shoved deep into my jacket pocket.

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