Sexuality

Traditional descriptions of Puerto Rican women's sexuality include virginity until marriage, passivity when having sex, and the lack of expectation of pleasure from their sexual activities. In their study of sexual expression among Puerto Rican women, Burgos and Díaz-Pérez (1986) found that adherence to this dominant cultural ideology was related to class. Working-class Puerto Rican women were found to adhere more to this ideology than middle-class women. Working-class females also believed that males are the sexual experts. Females are expected to be simultaneously attractive, seductive, and virginal. Puerto Rican society has been described as valuing a female for maintaining her physical appearance. Attractiveness is based on modern Western perspectives. Female attractiveness is emphasized more than male. Moreover, female cleanliness was believed to reflect genital cleanliness (free of diseases). Males are given more latitude in terms of looks, with virility and strong masculine qualities idealized. Given the socialization of females not to want sex, engaging in sex may produce feelings of guilt.

In Puerto Rican society, there is a tendency to judge women according to their sexual behavior. The double standard is still prevalent in expressions such a "la mujer buena o de su casa" (a good women/of the home) and "la mujer mala o de la calle" (a bad women/of the street). The former deserves respect and protection, the latter scorn and harassment. Moreover, the latter group of females is seen as a source of sexual release for males.

Puerto Rican women are supposedly solely responsible for fertility control. Males are portrayed as unin-volved or hostile to contraception. In a dated study, Murrillo (1976) found that their husbands forbade most Puerto Rican women to use contraceptives, and most Puerto Rican men refused to use contraceptives. Social class has been shown to influence contraceptive use. Borras (1984) found that working-class Puerto Rican woman were less knowledgeable about birth control than middle-class Puerto Rican women. Puerto Rico has one of the highest sterilization rates in the world, in particular female sterilization.

In Puerto Rico, as in other societies, the masculine ideology stresses sexuality. A man should revel in his sexuality. Women are objects of pleasure, so long as men abide by the taboo of incest and give the respect expected toward those women who are considered part of the family. Men are expected to engage in the conquest of women. The males' conquest of females is framed by differences in class and racial phenotypes. Women of a higher class are usually reserved for men from the same class (Ramirez, 1999). The culture is phallocentric with a great deal of attention and power given to the male genitals. The Puerto Rican language of sexuality reflects the importance of the penis and its connection to power (Ramirez, 1999). The aim of male sexuality is sexual intercourse. Sexual acts other than penetration are seen as of lesser value. Gender expectations for males involving virility and sexual prowess create concerns in males around sexual dysfunction. The sexual relationships between men and women involve maintaining the proper gender and sexual roles.

Homosexuality is considered as unacceptable on the island, for both women and men. Homosexuals and lesbians are ridiculed. Their sexual preferences and behaviors are viewed as "poco verguenza" (lack of shame). Homosexuality in Puerto Rico is seen variously as a sinful act, a crime, a sickness, or sexual orientation depending upon the ideological stance that the individual, social group, or institution assumes in dealing with it (Ramirez, 1999). There may be family rejection for those Puerto Rican men and women who are open about their sexual preference. Frequently, homosexual males are not are seen as being "real" men. In Puerto Rico, same-sex sexual practices cover a wide range of practices that are articulated and categorized differently, as are those who participate in these practices.

It has been suggested that same-sex sexuality among Latin American males is more common than among Anglos in the United States (Murray, 1995). The sex-gender system described for Puerto Rican males who have sex with men only considers the male receivers (pasivos) in anal intercourse as homosexuals. A male who penetrates another male (activos) in anal intercourse is not necessarily perceived as being a homosexual. Activos and pasivos are located in a sex-gender system where appropriate gender-sexual behavior rather than the object of sexual interest is used to determine who is a homosexual. Research on same-sex behaviors by Puerto Rican females is sparse, both theoretically and empirically.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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