things that matter

My Latina Mom Talked About Sex Candidly And Shame-Free — And I’m Better Because Of It

The #MeToo movement has brought up many conversations about how to teach kids about sex and consent. As adults, we often lack the language to discuss these topics with each other, so it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to discuss with kids. Even more for Latina moms, who often deal with internalized shame and, sometimes, language and cultural barriers as well.

This, however, wasn’t the case for my mother, a pro-hoe feminist — before is was “cool.”

Let me explain.

When I was five years old, a little boy with brown hair and smeared overalls told me that girls were dirty because they bled from their butts once a month. I was sure this was a lie. I came home and demanded that my mother provide an explanation. She sat me down and told me that menstruation was part of how some cis women are able to have babies and that one day I would get my period, too.

And then she shared something that always stayed with me: women’s bodies are not dirty; they’re powerful.

Most Latina mothers have a reputation of being tight-lipped about sex, but my mom talked about it with with honesty. She wasn’t encouraging me to have sex, but she did want me to be informed.

(Courtesy of Betsy Aimee)

I didn’t realize that her candidness around sexuality was revolutionary until I was much older.

In fact, although not often discussed, many of our immigrant Latina mothers were quiet social rioters, defying conventions while raising daughters in a world very different from the one they knew.

According to Alejandra Cortes, a 25-year-old social worker living in Los Angeles, her mother, an immigrant from Mexico, didn’t feel equipped to give her “the talk” but found someone else to help her. When Cortes was 11 years old, her mom took her to a Planned Parenthood class, where she could receive an inclusive, evidence-based sexual education.

“I’m not sure if I can teach you correctly, but I want you to have the right information so we are going to take a class,” Cortes remembers her mother telling her.

As for my mom, she continued engaging in conversations around sex with me for the years to come.

When I was 14, she told me something that I have thought a lot about since #MeToo brought the issue of consent to the forefront. She said, “tu decides con quien, y tu decides cuando” (“You decide who you have sex with and when you are going to have sex”).

“If a person buys you dinner or a car, you don’t owe them sex. If you were wearing tight jeans or a mini-skirt, you don’t owe them sex and it doesn’t make you a slut,” I remember her telling me. “Even if it’s your partner, you don’t owe them sex if you don’t want to.”

She was also the first person to tell me that anyone who judged me for having sex, or having had multiple sexual partners, wasn’t worth my time.

It was a gift to hear that from my own mother at a young age. It informed a lot of my own thoughts about how often we victim-blame women who report sexual assault. She encouraged me to be unapologetic about my body and what I did with it.

(Photo Credit: Gabriela Gandara)

She would also remind me that there were responsibilities that came with being a sexually empowered woman, like taking contraception and using condoms. When I was in college, I told her that one of my friends was embarrassed to pay for condoms. She told me,“well, if you are too embarrassed to buy condoms at the store, maybe that’s a sign you aren’t ready to have sex.”

Sex-positive moms can make you laugh, and sometimes cringe, but there is truth to what they say.

When Melissa Jill, a 36-year-old social service worker from Los Angeles, asked her mother if she should wait until marriage to have sex, her mom replied, “You have to test drive the car before you buy it.”

“At the moment I couldn’t believe my mom would say such a thing, but now that I look back, I’m glad my mom gave me an open perspective about not feeling ashamed of needing or wanting sex,” Melissa said. “She made feel that sex was something natural that my body was going to want.”

In an era where our bodies are still being regulated, and when our leaders would like to eliminate access to comprehensive sexual education and birth control, it’s important to talk to youth about sex with candidness.

My mom’s talks helped me be open and frank about sex with my partners, and I was never too shy to buy tampons or condoms for me or my friends. My mom’s honesty about sex made me an advocate for people to have access to safe and legal abortions, birth control and sex education and to be unapologetic about their desires. Now that I have my own child, I don’t shy away from using anatomically correct words to describe body parts, and I’m not nervous about discussing these topics with him.

Being open about sex ultimately made me feel like I could be open in every part of my life and helped me question gender roles that so often limit women from achieving our full potential. Through my mom’s own example, I learned that women and mothers don’t fit neatly into boxes, as saints or sinners, but that we are instead simply human.

Read: Trump Wants To Put Millions Of Dollars Into Abstinence-Only Education And These Latinx Sex Educators Aren’t Having It

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

Fierce Boss Ladies

This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

Art has the power to shift culture, and in Puerto Rico, a young illustrator is using it to help demystify female sexuality in a society where it’s largely still seen as taboo.

For the last four years, Guanina Cotto has used art as a way to explore her own sexuality, drawing erotic moments she has experienced to better understand what she likes and doesn’t like.

“It’s a tool to get to know myself,” Cotto, 25, told FIERCE. “It’s like writing for some people. For me, it’s like having a visual journal, where I draw ideas, what I’m feeling, new things I’ve explored and using it to learn about myself.”

Using Instagram as her visual diary, Cotto’s illustrations, which depict her lounging naked on a hammock, masturbating in bed, kissing other women or engaging in sexual practices with men, caught attention beyond her eyes. With more than 5 thousand followers, it’s become a site to challenge machista standards of female sexuality, gender expectations and heteronormativity on an island where public education teaches students sex is to be engaged in after marriage and where women are shamed, sometimes attacked, for daring to display their bare or scantily-dressed bodies.

The Isabela-based artist welcomes the attention her self-described “biographic soft erotic” illustrations have received, believing her portrayals could make people more comfortable seeing sexually liberated women in real life.

“My art is a way of normalizing sexuality,” she said. “Art exposes and stimulates people in many ways. I think the more people see the naked body, the more normal it will become.”

The process of normalizing an aspect of humanity that remains hush-hush, particularly in rural western municipalities like the one she lives in, comes with strains, however. In 2015, for instance, Collectivo Moriviví, a young women’s art collective based in the island’s metropolitan area, painted an anti-domestic violence mural that showed full-figured nude Black women with their faces covered. Months later, the piece, displayed in San Juan’s art district of Santurce, was defaced, with vandals drawing undergarments on the women’s bodies. For Cotto, whose work lives online, backlash to her art exists in reports to Instagram for explicit sexual content, a reprisal she says has become less frequent over the years.

Through normalizing female sexual autonomy and pleasure, Cotto believes it could help generations unlearn messages they were taught about their bodies, consent and relationships in school, through church and in their families.

She knows firsthand how detrimental these lessons on female morality and respectability are for young women trying to make sense of their desires. Growing up, Cotto attended a religious school, where educational instruction, and home lessons from her grandmother, taught her that premarital sex and self-pleasure were sins. While the artist does have a mother, who she describes as a feminist, that told her that she is in control of her body, the mixed messages impacted her connection with her body and sexuality and, as a result, her future romantic relationships.

“I grew up scared, scared of my own feelings and wants,” she said. “We grow up not knowing our own bodies and that we are capable of experiencing pleasure, too. They teach us that sex is something done to us, not for us to enjoy. We become objects, as if being beautiful and desirable is the most important thing to be.”

That fear and unfamiliarity of what healthy, respectful relationships look like, she shares, previously kept her tied to former lovers who wanted to control the way she dressed and acted in public. She believes women are less likely to stay in situations where they aren’t valued and respected if they are taught earlier in their lives that they have autonomy over their bodies.

“When we learn sexuality isn’t shameful, we can establish healthy boundaries and be more in tune with what makes us our true selves. We become empowered,” she said.

While Cotto views her art as personal, she also believes it, and others like it, have the power to allow women to feel comfortable in their bodies, own their sexuality and demand pleasure and respect. Her illustrations, which, in addition to presenting women engaging in eroticism, also depict them participating in daily activities like lounging, drawing or breast-feeding their infants nude, is often the first time people see women represented through a female’s gaze.

“When I draw the naked body of a woman, it’s not always sexual. Oftentimes, it is, but not always. For me, it’s about normalizing the body, showing the beauty of women and what it looks like to be a free woman, through a female’s gaze,” she said.

Read: After Sex Shame Led To A Porn Addiction, This Latina Is Encouraging All Women To Unlearn Ideas That Sexuality Is Dirty

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

As Mothers We Need To Stop Thinking ‘Pow-Pow’ And Chancla Culture Are An Acceptable Way Of Raising Our Kids

things that matter

As Mothers We Need To Stop Thinking ‘Pow-Pow’ And Chancla Culture Are An Acceptable Way Of Raising Our Kids

I’m what they call a millennial Latina mom. That means growing up I often endured the old school style of Latinos parenting where chanclas and “quieres pow pows” were meant to be the end all be all of “bad” behavior. Today, even despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics has voiced their strong opinion that corporal punishment, physically disciplining your child, isn’t just inappropriate parenting, you can still find in our culture memes and jokes about la chancleta. And while the rate of spankings have gone down in recent years, polls have shown that those “good, hard spankings” that you might have “turned out alright” in spite of can cause long-term harm.

Here’s a look at the reasons why we have to stop spanking our kids.

Pow-pows teach the wrong lesson.

 
“Coco” / Walt Disney Pictures /Pixar Animation Studios

“It’s better to be feared than loved” is a sentiment often touted by managers and leaders who have an odd understanding of proper management. Mind you this phrase was also created by Niccolò Machiavelli a politician and philosopher who often encouraged dishonesty and the killing of innocents in certain situations in his work. Sure, this method of teaching which chancla culture stem from might encourage your child to cower at the sight of you when your raise a flip-flop but it also teaches them that you are not to be trusted particularly in a stage in their life when they are just learning.

Chanclas teach kids that they can get what they want by being physically violent.

harryswife801 / Twitter


As parents, we’re physically stronger and bigger than our children. When we use our size to overpower our children and try to get them to behave a certain way we’re teaching them that to get what you want you can abuse those who are smaller and weaker than they are. This is a classic example of why kids who are often abused at home often go to school and end up bullying their peers.

The reason for the spanking gets lots on them.

andheri5 / Twitter


They may forget why they are being spanked in the first place. They’re doing so much to avoid #lachancla that they can’t even fathom why they are in trouble.

Adults can lose control when expressing anger physically.

 
SaludAmerica / Twitter

When you give yourself a chance to hit your child you put yourself at risk of being an abusive parent. As adults we often experience so much stress and have a hard time coping as it is when we are frustrated, upset, sad or tired. When we start to hit our kids during moments of stress, our minds ultimately begin to associate the feeling as a release for the mind. Soon enough you could look to abusing your kid as a way to stop feeling stressed out.

It could damage your relationship with your child.

Giphy


Studies on the effects of physical punishment have found that the more spankings a child receives, the more likely they are to become defiant towards their parents and authorities, which means a decrease in the quality of their relationships with their parents.

You may not get the reaction you are looking for.

“Coco” / Walt Disney Pictures /Pixar Animation Studios

When spanking a child it’s likely that your initial intent might be to correct your child’s poor behavior, but what extents will you go in the moment of punishment if the reaction you want doesn’t happen?

You become the bully

 
FanGirl / Twitter

Kids are resilient and remember everything. Why let them think of you like that? After so long they will start to remember. Why become the bully instead of the parent?

Disrupting their self-confidence

 
EuniqueJG / Twitter

It’s almost like being in a relationship and feeling like you are emotionally being tortured. That’s what it’s like for kids. Even though they lose to test you and think everything is funny. Doing this constantly just is not.

You’re bullying a future child who will go onto get bullied by others

 
SaludAmerica / Twitter

Then parents wonder why their kids are being bullied. Even being yelled at furiously. Many kids end up becoming the bullied from being bullied at home. What’s more, children are more likely to become adult victims of abuse when they are older if they think that their parent’s abusive behavior is appropriate.

They won’t be a leader

 
vikypicon / Instagram

Growing up I was always taught the future of a Latina is being a leader. When you instill bullying or fear how is your child going to be a leader when you aren’t?

You’re not strong

 
EuniqueJG / Twitter

Spanking your kids can cause kids to think about all the pain they have to endure instead what they should focus on.

It’s really not that funny

 
lgbtdaniela / Twitter

La Chancla is classic even to Latinos. All in all, it’s not as funny as many people put it.  Realizing this is not a funny way to discipline will help in the long run.

Older peers aren’t that powerful

 
Giphy

Every generation is different. It’s okay to give lessons to your parents or grandparents gave you. Have your own form of parenting to make your own mark.

I don’t want to be that parent

Modern Family

As a mother I don’t want to be pushed so using positive reinforcement is the way to go or you do end up feeling like spanking is the way to go.

Our world is already full of violence

dulcedolan / Twitter

Fueling to the fire isn’t what Latinos are about. We want peace even within our families. We don’t want to be the stereotype on why the world is the way it is. This all starts at home.

I’m not the reason why mental health is out of control

journoresource / Twitter

Our kids are the future. This means their mental health can become at stake when spanking as a form discipline.

I’m not their friend but I am their role model

hakire / Instagram

This is the main part of being a Latino mom. Uplifting to do better than what you had. Even if you had a great life before motherhood.

 You’re raising an influencer

Giphy

Making sure your child knows their worth is important. By spanking your kids you may instill a notion that they aren’t.

 It’s the 2000’s, not 1950!

 
I Love Lucy

Things have changed. That even includes parenting. It was okay to spank your kids but after all this time look at what it has put on our society and our future. What does it really teach you as a Latina Mom. Be strong and better than that.

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *