I wasn’t taught birth control. I was taught abstinence.
“And remember, m’ija. If your boyfriend wants to have sex with someone else, you let him. As long as you remain a virgin, that’s all that matters.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Talk about putting it on a pedestal.
When it comes to virginity, Latinos really do. Not that we shouldn’t, but it shouldn’t be to the extent where we omit important information on how to protect ourselves in case we decide to disobey mami’s orders.
This was my first lesson in birth control: At 14, I was at the park about to play basketball when I saw an opaque, deflated, balloon-looking thing hanging off the basketball hoop. I had no idea that it was a condom until my girlfriend shrieked in disgust and told me what it was. Oh, I thought. So that’s what it looks like.
For some Latinas, mami’s words go in one ear and out the other. But for others, they really take those words to heart. They sincerely try to preserve their virginity. So they bend the rules a little. Instead of vaginal intercourse, their first sexual experience is anal. They figure that as long as their hymens are intact, they’re still virgins.
Nice try, but sorry. Just because you got creative, doesn’t mean you’re still a virgin.
Well, to be fair, I suppose that’s open to interpretation. But in the dictionary there are two definitions of sexual intercourse: one involves penetration of the vagina and the other does not. I’m just going to leave that idea out there, and move on.
So these young women’s justification for their actions is that their hymen is intact, but this isn’t a very good indicator of y o u r virginity because hymens can tear at the ride of a bicycle, if you were even born with one. And yet, many Latinas, among others, have gone in for hymen restoration surgery to claim their virginity once again.
Okay, Latinos, so what gives? Why the virgin fever? I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach our young girls to wait for someone special. I still believe that it’s important for parents to emphasize this.
But let’s be realistic. Latina teen pregnancy is the highest among racial/ethnic groups. Kids are engaging in sexual behavior at a very young age. What the new generation needs is some information on how to protect themselves, not our default authoritarian rules: “You can’t have sex because I said so!”
Let’s get it right this time. As much as our culture may want us to be, we can’t all be the Virgin Mary.
To learn more about Cindy, visit Dagny’s Dichotomy.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.