by Cindy Tovar
In my previous article, Virgin Fever, I discussed how Latinas are told to save themselves for marriage, and then aren’t told much more than that. But what are our young men being told?
Unfortunately, after questioning friends, family, and some acquaintances, I found that many Latino males are told nothing at all, while others are encouraged to just “go for it,” with a mere warning to not get anyone pregnant. For those who are given some form of the talk, it often comes too late: they have already learned about sex through personal experience, health class, friends, and/or porn. Of the guys I asked, only one was taught that sex was okay as long as it was in a strong, loving relationship.
I think it’s safe to say that preserving their virginity is not the top priority when it comes to Latino males. Most of the time, boys are given an all-access pass when it comes to dating and sex. This double-standard is due to machismo (isn’t it always the culprit?), and its view that men need to satisfy their uncontrollable sex drives so they can prove their manliness.
As a Latina, I’m usually the first one to point out that the males in most Latino families are given more freedom and just have it easier, in general. However, it’s important to acknowledge that they are victims of a certain type of pressure, too: While girls feel pressure from their mothers to remain chaste, boys (some from a very young age) feel pressure from their fathers, or other male figures in their life, to perform their manly duties. Their virginity isn’t valued, but instead seen as something to be ashamed of and a title they need to get rid of in order to be respected as a man.
Let’s go back to my original question. If the data I’ve gathered from my small sample is correct, then it’s not only young Latinas, but also young Latinos who aren’t receiving much information on how to protect themselves when it comes to sex.
We have a problem, and it seems to me that it’s because most Latino parents have been focusing on the wrong things. For girls, the focus is on abstinence. For guys, the focus is on sleeping with as many girls as possible. Another contributing factor could be that some boys are being raised by single mothers who don’t know how to approach their sons about sex.
But let’s focus on what needs to be done now. I believe that parents need to teach both sexes about contraception, and respecting their own bodies and the bodies of others. We need to erase the double-standard by telling both sexes that it’s okay to wait for someone special, and that there is nothing wrong with being a virgin. And finally, we need to leave the threats and teasing out of the discussion so that our kids can feel comfortable enough to talk to us openly about sex.
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.