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“Traditionally mothers did not prepare their daughters for menstruation, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, or childbirth. Such matters were considered bodily functions, somewhat dirty, shameful, to be hidden from view even of oneself, and thus to be virtually invisible to the well-mannered girl. The taboo was sufficiently strong that violation was termed “a holy sin." No confidences between sisters, or games, or jokes within friendship groups elucidated sexual matters for the young Mexican girl. There was close supervision of the girl in mixed groups outside the household. Girls reached menarche somewhat later under poorer nutritional conditions, and the preferred age of marriage was 15 years. This system functioned effectively to prevent premarital conceptions and to provide two parents and an extended kin group for every newborn” (Acosta Johnson, 1980)[1][195].


“Strong taboos existed traditionally against the discussion of sexual information or the recognition of pregnancy. The protection of young girls from early entry into sexual unions was the rationale for the perpetuation of the first taboo […]” (p71). “The pregnant woman and fetus were protected in their delicate condition by never drawing attention to themselves. Thus, informants reported that as children they never noticed that any of their female kin were pregnant. […] On the day of a birth in the family, the children were distracted from the event by being sent on an errand, usually to the house of a relative far enough away to cause some delay. On their return they would find the new baby and would be told an airplane had brought it. Respondents laughed a bit incredulously to discover that each had unquestioningly believed that explanation until the moment of birth of their own first child. It was a considerable shock to the primipara to comprehend that her baby grew inside her body, and then that he did not emerge magically from the umbilicus but painfully by the vaginal route”. “The lack of communication between mothers and daughters concerning sex and reproduction was encouraged by church norms. […].The women had not learned about sex and reproduction from their mothers, nor would they teach their daughters that information” (Whiteford, 1980:p113)[2][196].



González-López (2004)[3] found that “fathers’ perceptions of a daughter's virginity are shaped by regional expressions of patriarchy and masculinity, and the socioeconomic segregation of inner-city barrios. Protecting their daughters from a sexually dangerous society and improving their socioeconomic future is of greater concern to these men than preserving virginity per se”.







Additional refs.:


§         Horowitz, R. (1983) Honor and the American Dream:  Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U Press. Ch. 6

§         Dietrich, L. C. (1998) Chicana Adolescents: Bitches, ‘Ho’s, and Schoolgirls. Occasional paper, Westport, CT

§         Day, R. D. (1992) The transition to first intercourse among racially and culturally diverse youth, J Marriage & Fam 54,4:749-62

§         Augenbraum, H. & Stavans, I. (Eds., 1993) Growing Up Latino: Memoirs and Stories. Reflections on Life in the United States. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin

§         De Anda, D., Becerra, R. M. & Fielder, E. (1990) In Their Own Words: The Life Experiences of Mexican-American and White Pregnant Adolescents and Adolescent Mothers, Child & Adolesc Social Work J 7,4:301-18

§         Estill, Adriana (2002) Building the Chicana Body in Sandra Cisneros' My Wicked Wicked Ways, Rocky Mountain E-Review of Language & Literature 56,2 []

  • Esquibel, Catrióna Rueda (1998) "Memories of Girlhood: Chicana Lesbian Fictions," SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 23,3:645–81
  • Esquibel, Catrióna Rueda (1999) "Memories of Girlhood: Chicana Lesbian Fictions," in David William Foster (Ed.) Chicano/Latino Homoerotic Identities (Latin American Studies Series #16/ Garland Reference Library of the Humanities #2117), Vol. 16. Taylor & Francis, Inc., pp. 59-98
  • Esquibel, Catrióna Rueda (2006) With Her Machete in Her Hand: Reading Chicana Lesbians. Forthcoming from University of Texas Press [chapter “Memories of Girlhood: Chicana Lesbian Fictions”]




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

Last revised: Jun 2005


[1][195] Acosta Johnson, C. (1980) Breast-feeding and social class mobility: the case of Mexican migrant mothers in Houston, Texas, in Melville, M. B. (Ed.) Twice a Minority: Mexican-American Women. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby, p66-82

[2][196] Whiteford, L. (1980) Mexican American women as innovators, in Melville, M. (Ed.) Twice a Minority. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby, p109-26

[3] González-López, Gloria (2004) Fathering latina sexualities : Mexican men and the virginity of their daughters, Journal of marriage & family 66,5:1118-1130