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Analysis Of Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself By Lorena Garcia

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Young women exploring their sexuality are often stigmatized by various factors in society. Latina girls are no exception and are, in fact, finding themselves placed in a negative spotlight more often that their peers. In Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself, Lorena Garcia looks into a group that has been labeled as “at risk” youth by interviewing a group of Latina girls between the ages of thirteen and eighteen who engage in safe sex. She also interviews some of their mothers. Her findings contradict the negative stereotypes that follow these young women because of their sexual activity. In doing so, she discovered that the statistics do not tell their entire story, making it difficult to understand why and how they go about their sexual activity.…show more content…
According to this perception of “Latino culture,” it can be assumed that teen pregnancy was acceptable and was something that all Latina girls aimed for. Minerva, one of the girls interviewed, described this when she stated, “... they talk down to us, like, ‘Okay, we know that in the Hispanic culture it's okay for girls to get pregnant young and become mothers, but not in American culture, okay?’” (Garcia, 2012: 63). This connection to “Latino culture” also emphasized the gender inequality between men and women. Embedded into the courses was a justification of machismo, a “..strong and exaggerated sense of masculinity specific to Latinos”(Garcia, 2012: 63). Rather than explain the prevention of pregnancy as a group effort, Miriam reported that her sex education teacher, “...started talking about Latino culture and saying that because of machismo, guys were always gonna try to control us and tell us how many babies to have, and that they were too macho to wear condoms” (Garcia, 2012: 63). The idea portrayed when blaming “Latino culture” is that the sexuality of young Latina women is a problem that needs to be fixed but the sexuality of Latino men is acceptable. The efforts of the teachers, as reported by the girls, focused on changing how women pursued their sexuality. However, this perception of sexuality in Latina girls is false, and was grounded on the negative stereotypes…show more content…
Therefore, in the mothers’ point of view, their daughter's sexual encounters were commonly seen as their boyfriends taking advantage of their naivety. Such was the case for Emma, who reports telling her daughter, “‘You think he loves you? Se está aprovechando de ti, ya verás [He’s taking advantage of you, you’ll see]!’” (Garcia, 2012: 24). The reason behind this view is “the patriarchal control over women’s bodies” (Garcia, 2012: 24). Because women were seen as objects, the common explanation for female sexuality is that they were deceived by their partner. Victimization was also seen as a way to maintain both a girl’s and her mother’s reputation. The mothers interviewed were expected to take on the responsibility of raising their children. One of the tasks involved was educating their daughters of the dangers of premarital sex. Like the teachers of the sex education courses the girls had taken, mothers did not go in depth on different methods of pursuing safe sex. In the end, the cultural belief that a daughter who had been properly educated would prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs through abstinence until marriage persisted in the lives of second-generation Latinas. By portraying their daughters as victims, the mothers would avoid having other relatives place the blame on them for not properly educating their
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