Sex: The Dominant Taboo of our Culture

In sexuality on June 30, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I’ve always asked myself why many Hispanic parents have a stigma around talking to their kids about sexuality and its sister topic contraception…it’s almost taboo to do so in our culture. And yet we fail to see that this is affecting our youth and future tremendously, not only within our own families but as a U.S. ethnicity as a whole.

More and more Latinas under 17 years of age are walking the hallways of schools in America with uncertainty as to whether they will be able to graduate in time or if their baby will beat them to the punch. And that’s because Hispanic teens now have the highest teenage birth rates of any other major ethnic group in the U.S.

This continues to happen because a simple conversation that should be happening at home…isn’t. When I say a simple conversation, I mean simple…really. Why can’t we be upfront about a topic that changes the lives of so many people? And yet, when we look at novelas or all the Spanish channels on television we are surrounded by a culture that highly promotes sensuality and sexuality as a normal way of living our day-to-day.  To have women half naked and story-lines that are highly passionate seem like a huge disconnect to me. Doesn’t that seem like a huge disconnect to you? It may seem like make-believe stories to you but they might be more realistic than you think to your kids.

This lack of communication between parents and kids has various explanations:

  • The degree of education parents have towards the subject
  • The number of topics that are up for discussion in a family environment (while every single topic is up for discussion, “that one”, isn’t one of them)
  • The families’ socioeconomic status plays a big role in the lack of communication and acts as a predictor of early sexual activity and teen pregnancy
  • Going about it the wrong way and focusing on the negative “you better not get pregnant” rather than advising them on how to protect themselves

This of course leads our precious kids in the hands of their clueless friends, boyfriends or hopefully a clinic.

Obviously it is easier said than done and while I am not a parent yet I still believe having this discussion with your kids at an early age is important.  We need to stop thinking “my daughter isn’t easy” and “that will never happen to my family” because that’s just the wrong way of going about it.  Life always throws surprises and twists that we didn’t expect so it’s best if we are at least prepared for them. In fact, I believe denial is probably one of the main drivers as to why parents don’t approach their children sooner or at all about the subject. Kids nowadays are experimenting with sexual activities at age 14 or younger…so, don’t think they are little angels that aren’t ready to have the so called “talk”.

Let’s shape up. Let’s communicate. The worst thing that can happen is that they are more aware and logic only tells us that the more they know about the subject the more they can avoid it altogether or make smarter choices. Given that we are the largest minority in this country we should be raising smart and informed leaders rather than allowing kids to have and raise kids; since teen mothers are less likely to complete high school (only one-third receive a high school diploma) and only 1.5% have a college degree by age 30.

Our future is on the line and we have a chance to change it.

  1. Lili, great post. I think you can also connect it to what marketers are (not) doing about it . I think it’s a taboo for them too. Great that you are starting this conversation and can share some thoughts on what brands can do about it (ie: a potential opportunity for brands trying to do some community connection with Latinos).

    • Gustavo, you’re completely right brands have a huge role in educating, talking and informing consumers especially if it isn’t a topic that is spoken at home. But, to your point it seems our cultural taboo’s have transcended from our homes and even into our media.

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