why latinas need to learn about their reproductive health
First, what was the first thing that popped into your head when you read the word REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH?
Having babies? Period stuff? La regla? Miscarriages? Blossoming into womanhood? Sex?
These are all valid points and most of us learned from our abuelitas, tias, moms, primas, comadres, anyone around the house that could give us two seconds of their time without feeling awkward about it or sending us off to ask someone else.
According to the World Health Organization, reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this are the right of men and women to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice, and the right of access to appropriate health care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. - Source
Let's be Real for a Sec
For how many of you was that the first time you ever read the actual definition? No worries, it's by no fault of your own. In fact, many of us especially in the Latino/Latinx community grow up with fear about our bodies.
Does this sound familiar?
- No vayas a salir con tu domingo siete (Don't come home pregnant and unmarried)
- Ay pobre le va ir mal (Oh no, good luck to her)
- No comás limón porque te corta la regla (Don't eat lemon because it'll stop your period)
- Cerrá las piernas (Close your legs)
- Esos palos son para mujeres casadas (Those tampons are for married women)
The list could go on. Write any that come to mind in the comment section below.
Now, let's get deeper. All of those things that we heard growing up are problematic. Why? Because they perpetuate that women are the problem. And since most of us probably heard these things from the women in our lives this is putting women against women. Many of us still grow up with these ideas about other women. Hey, I'll be the first to admit that not until I got into this work did I start understanding my own unlearning I needed to do.
There is this idea that we're all just waiting to get pregnant AT ANY MOMENT. The hyperfertilization and hypersexualization of women of color - Source. That the woman is the only capable and responsible one to make sure things go right. Where is the accountability for men, especially Latino men? I'm not just referring to the obvious care for unintended pregnancy. I'm also talking about infertility; which is often a fear solely from the woman's side (speaking in terms of a heterosexual relationship.)
Let's not forget to mention the increasing rate of Latinas being diagnosed with PCOS and Endometriosis. Many who suffer in silence! This can be a whole separate post.
How can we begin to work on Latina/Latino relationship dynamics?
By learning about our own bodies first through Body Literacy!
Siiiii, think about it. If we started understanding how our bodies work then we could advocate for ourselves. Then others that care for us could start becoming allies as well, I'm looking at you men. It takes work, something I've done myself. However, I promise that you will be better for it and so will the men in your life. It might even reveal some things about your relationship that need more work. Body literacy allows for open communication and more support. That's why I've created a Myths About Fertility Sheet in English and Spanish so that you can print it and post it anywhere in your house, office, share with your friends and family. Be sure to the subscribe to the monthly newsletter so you receive your sheet! If you have kids then that's great because it's an opportunity to help them understand early on! I know I wish I would've known the truth early on, so much unneeded stress and anxiety in my life! It's an interesting conversation starter; you'd be amazed at all the reactions.
I also highly recommend you check out the book Reproductive Justice: An Introduction. It puts the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center and using a human rights analysis, Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger show how the discussion around reproductive justice differs significantly from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have long dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict.
Now go out there and start sharing!