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Girls’ puberty was symbolised by a dance feast, at which, traditionally, it was the mother’s duty to instruct her daughter about sex (Boone, 1989:p151-2)[1][159]. However: “In this case, the mother and daughter both laughed at this custom, as it seems never to have been followed”. Boone:


“Cuban women’s views of sex are in general quite positive. It is not a topic that they dwell on, but neither is it a topic they avoid except with their daughters. Second generation women complain that their mothers gave them little or no information either before or at the time of their marriages. For females, sexuality is not supposed to exist until marriage. For males, it is a sign of masculinity before and after marriage. From all available information, it appears that Cuban women are virgins at the time of marriage, or, if not, have had very limited experience, often only with their fiancés. There is some evidence that this varies by race and class among Washington Cubans, although virginity at marriage is maintained as an ideal among all Cubans”.


One woman pointed out : “Without pre-marital sexual restraint, a woman is unfit for a good marriage. I don’t like freedom. One of the best things in life for a woman is marriage. You couldn’t get married in Cuba if you were too free. You wouldn’t be the right person to be the mother of his children”.


“The perpetuation of courtship customs is the result of two very strong and traditional belief systems. First, the idea persists that single encounters between boys and girls “who are not mature” invites irresponsible behavior on the part of the girls. Sexual advances on the part of young men are not considered irresponsible as much as they are “naturally mischievous”. This does not diminish the concern of the parents, however. Since chastity before marriage for girls is still a mark of family responsibility, if not status, it is highly prized by both males and females. From all accounts, it is not simply an ideal but a reality. Sexual instruction is minimal, although second generation mothers feel some need to be more informative. Sexuality is a matter that mothers traditionally refrain from discussing with their daughters. The eventual husband of the girl, because he is still usually older and supposedly more experienced, is expected to provide all the instruction needed. This is true mainly of heterosexual relations, as most mothers are quite sympathetic and somewhat more informative about menstruation and body development. Discussion of sexual matters is thought to invite experimentation, as is single dating. A belief in male predation persists, and mothers are concerned about their children of both sexes. Cuban women were accustomed to much more stringent supervision by relatives, maids, and school officials in Cuba. In addition, the neighborhood itself functioned as a chaperone as well as a general guardian. In America, Cuban mothers fear their children walking distances to bus stops, or being alone anywhere outside the household” (p191-2).


García (1996)[2][160] argeed that “[a]ttitudes toward sexuality remain as rigid as they did in Cuba”.













Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1][159] Boone, M. S. (1989) Capital Cubans: Refugee Adaptation in Washington, D.C.New York: AMS Press

[2][160] García, M. C. (1996) HavanaUSA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1951-1994. Berkeley ; Los Angeles & London: University of California Press