How Latino Men Can Start to Show Period Allyship
Today on the blog, we are interviewing Horacio Portillo of Just Gyv, the founder of MesoAmerican Beauty line. He will be sharing his experience as a Latino man but most importantly as a father to a daughter that has a period. He shares with us the ideas he inherited when it came to periods. His own resistance to understanding. And how he had to check himself in order to be a better ally to his daughter.
We hope that this starts to slowly break the taboo for future fathers out there and helps you create a better relationship with a young person in your life that is experiencing a period. To understand all the layers it came hold but by speaking up about these real topics we can start a dialogue for more open dialogues in the Latinx community.
What is a menstrual cup? It was a naïve question to my daughter, should have known what came after.
As a Latino man, growing in the 80’s, we were not really taught any sort of reproductive, sexual health or body literacy, all our wisdom came from our buddies, they in term learn it from their buddies and so on, in short, our formal education was half-truths, cultural ignorance and a big dose of taboo. Puberty comes with a rash of new sensation, feelings of fear and anxiety and self-consciousness. I cannot even recall when I heard about periods or the changes that a young woman experience it was shameful to talk about it in my household.
Fast forward a few years and when the time came for me to support my own teenager’s puberty, I was totally unprepared, all I knew was that women shed their uterus lining once a month and that they needed a method to control the bleeding, even a total crazy idea that you should never swim in the ocean with a woman during her period, so I totally blew it. I begged my wife to deal with helping her during this period since the thought of menstruation did not register when I was told I was going to be a father.
Slowly, I learned not to see this as taboo, at first, I simply shut down. I felt it was not my problem and I was going to be helpful by just getting out of the way, this strategy did not work; then slowly I became supportive, learned to listen (still have a ways to go) and finally I understood that as frustrating as it is for me, it must be ten times more frustrating for her.
If I can provide any tips on what I learned so far, they would be:
Do not look for ways to fix her. I was looking for ways to fix her. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG, this is a normal cycle that women experience.
Shutting down is not helpful. I admit, month after month never did I try to understand the cycle, this is very alienating and not constructive. It is best to listen and try to understand how is the period affecting her. What can you do to make the process less stressful?
Educate yourself, there are tons of resources like this (https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/talk-about-menstruation.html) This is how I came to asking “What is a menstrual cup?” she not only gave me a quick explainer, but went into detail as to the pros and cons and why she would not use it.
I am proud that unlike the past, this time I made it through the explanation, there is so much more that we can learn and I am hopeful the new generations will be better prepared and not be absurdly afraid of swimming in the ocean when a woman is menstruating.