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Latina/o Sexualities

Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 390
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  • Book Info
    Latina/o Sexualities
    Book Description:

    Latina/os are currently the largest minority population in the United States. They are also one of the fastest growing. Yet, we have very limited research and understanding of their sexualities. Instead, stereotypical images flourish even though scholars have challenged the validity and narrowness of these images and the lack of attention to the larger social context. Gathering the latest empirical work in the social and behavioral sciences, this reader offers us a critical lens through which to understand these images and the social context framing Latina/os and their sexualities.

    Situated at the juncture of Latina/o studies and sexualities studies,Latina/o Sexualitiesprovides a single resource that addresses the current state of knowledge from a multidisciplinary perspective. Contributors synthesize and critique the literature and carve a separate space where issues of Latina/o sexualities can be explored given the limitations of prevalent research models. This work compels the current wave in sexuality studies to be more inclusive of ethnic minorities and sets an agenda that policy makers and researchers will find invaluable.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4822-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Marysol Asencio
  5. Introduction: Mapping Latina/o Sexualities Research and Scholarship
    (pp. 1-12)

    When you think of Latina/o sexuality, what images pop into your head? Perhaps you think of Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Salma Hayek, Shakira, or Antonio Banderas. Or maybe you just envision large booties, swiveling hips, and sweltering heat? Or do you picture brutish “macho” men and passive women on welfare who cannot or do not want to control their fertility? Do you picture men and women having healthy sexual lives or ignorant, uncaring people who reproduce children and poverty? Or do images of dark-skinned sex workers working the corners of urban streets come to mind? Given these decontextualized and pathologized...

  6. 1 A History of Latina/o Sexualities
    (pp. 13-37)

    A history of Latina and Latino sexualities in the United States is not easy to write. TheOxford English Dictionarynotes that the word “Latino” comes from the Spanishlatinoamericano, which means Latin American. Most of those who now call themselves Latinas or Latinos in the United States either migrated from one of Latin America’s many nations or are descended from such immigrants and here putatively were transformed in some profound ways.¹ If we were simply dealing with one set of national values, ideals, and norms about sexuality coming into contact with another, that in itself would be terrain complex...

  7. 2 Making Sex Matter: Histories of Latina/o Sexualities, 1898 to 1965
    (pp. 38-47)

    For a sobering view of the state of the field of the history of Latina/o sexualities, one need only type a handful of relevant keywords into any major academic database. “Latino” and “sexuality,” for instance, returns a total of two citations fromAmerica: History and Life, which includes more than two thousand journals, as well as book reviews and dissertations. One is a 2003 essay on gay Latinos in San Francisco by Horacio Roque Ramírez, the other a 1999 essay by George Lipsitz on popular music in the 1980s and 1990s.¹ A search with “Hispanic” and “sexuality” produces similarly thin...

  8. 3 Latina/o Childhood Sexuality
    (pp. 48-61)

    Latina/os are the fastest-growing and the largest ethnic minority group in the United States. Latina/os, with a median age of twenty-seven years in 2005, were much younger than the population as a whole at thirty-six years. Further, whereas 25 percent of the total U.S. population was under eighteen years of age, 34 percent of the Latina/o population was under age eighteen. Despite these large and growing numbers of Latina/os in the United States, research on their childhood sexuality is limited. Studying childhood sexuality among Latina/os is important, because their cultural beliefs and values may mediate the relationships between sexual experiences...

  9. 4 Latina/o Parent-Adolescent Communication about Sexuality: An Interdisciplinary Literature Review
    (pp. 62-74)

    Parents play a key role in the sexual socialization of adolescents, the transmission of sexual beliefs, values, and norms. Research in this area is important, given that patterns of socialization may determine adolescent sexual decision making. Currently, there is a growing interest across disciplines to understand the nature of sexuality communication in Latina/o families. This topic is meaningful to health researchers because the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teenage birthrates among Latina/o youth are consistently higher than those for non-Latina/o youths,¹ yet Latina/o adolescents report less discussion with parents about sexual risk and self-protective factors, and lower levels...

  10. 5 Sexual Health of Latina/o Populations in the United States
    (pp. 75-89)

    This chapter presents a critical examination of the literature related to Latina/o sexual health in the United States in order to inform researchers and public policymakers about the sexual health needs of Latina/os. We start by contrasting the World Health Organization (WHO)’s definition of sexual health and recommendations with those laid down by the U.S. surgeon general. We then present the theoretical framework of the chapter and describe the social context of Latina/os living in the United States. These sections are followed by an examination of the literature on the sexual health of Latina/os published in the last sixteen years....

  11. 6 Latina/o Sex Policy
    (pp. 90-102)

    It is difficult to identify social policies that do not directly or indirectly have an impact on our sexual lives. Sexuality, in its social, physical, and cultural meanings has relevance in some way for all Latinas and Latinos. As such, the social and governmental policies directly and indirectly related to Latina/o sexuality constitute a variety of community, state, and national initiatives. Beyond policies involving contraceptive use, family planning, sex education, abortion, and sex work restrictions, there are a myriad of issues that touch gay, lesbian and queer Latina/os in particular. The lack of access of these groups to marriage (in...

  12. 7 Heterosexuality Exposed: Some Feminist Sociological Reflections on Heterosexual Sex and Romance in U.S. Latina/o Communities
    (pp. 103-116)

    “Why aren’t you in a relationship? Haven’t you found the right man?” I have been asked these questions countless times by some of my relatives, some close friends on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and a few self-identified progressive women and men colleagues studying gender and romantic relationships across disciplines. As I have spent extended periods of my adult life without a romantic partner, others have additionally inquired with a tone of sadness, “Don’t you trust men? Are you divorced? Hmmm … Maybe you are, and I do not know about it! For a Mexican woman, isn’t it kind...

  13. 8 Representations of Latina/o Sexuality in Popular Culture
    (pp. 117-136)

    This chapter provides an overview of the ways in which various loci of popular culture constitute and stage representations of Latina/o sexuality in the U.S. context. Research on such representations proves significant knowledge to the construction of public policy because cultural production reinforces structural systems of inequality as much as it forms possibilities for contesting systems of structural oppression. Drawing from Latina/o and Chicana/o studies, among other disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, I provide a critical overview of literature addressing popular cultural forms with specific attention to the production of Latina/o subjectivities and representations of sexualities.

    As a state-of-knowledge assessment, this...

  14. 9 Cultural Production of Knowledge on Latina/o Sexualities
    (pp. 137-149)

    The artificial separation that existed between queer studies and racial/ethnic studies has been bridged in recent years by work from artists, critics, historians, sociologists, and other cultural producers. This separation had entailed, paradoxically, a normative narrative, with sexuality studies in the United States originating at a certain point (in the contemporary U.S. academy, this is normally placed in the late 1980s and early 1990s) and then developing by trying to incorporate other approaches that contested the new field’s universalist assumptions, based as they were on demarcations and false distinctions. This narrative is, of course, simplified for the sake of expediency....

  15. 10 Where There’s Querer: Knowledge Production and the Praxis of HIV Prevention
    (pp. 150-172)

    In this chapter, we share the ways we synthesize community mobilization, creative production, and cultural studies in service of HIV prevention. Our work is grounded in a reverence forquerer, the supple Spanish verb that simultaneously evokes multiple concepts. Querer is to love, to want, and even to wish. Our loved ones are ourqueridos, and these concepts form the most tender of greetings in e-mails and old-fashioned letters, which open with the flourish “Querido/a…” Querer can be used to express casual affection, deep love, intense passion and magically raunchy desire—sometimes all at once. It is this multiplicity...

  16. 11 Religion/Spirituality, U.S. Latina/o Communities, and Sexuality Scholarship: A Thread of Current Works
    (pp. 173-187)

    “In U.S., Hispanics Bring Catholicism to Its Feet,” proclaimed the May 7, 2007,Washington Post.¹ Catholic churches are providing space and a different kind of religious experience to charismatic-influenced Catholicism, as practiced by U.S. Latina/os. The Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collaboration in their most recent research on U.S. Latina/o populations (referred to below as the Pew Report) confirms it. Drawing from public opinion surveys of more than four thousand people, they conclude that Catholicism is supported in greater numbers by U.S. Latina/o populations, with a special emphasis on charismatic religious practice. Christian...

  17. 12 Latina/o Sexualities in Motion: Latina/o Sexualities Research Agenda Project
    (pp. 188-206)

    This chapter examines the existing literature on the relationship between Latina/o sexualities and migration. Drawing on literature in the social and behavioral sciences (and related disciplines), I examine studies that explicitly focus on Latino migration to the United States and sexuality. In addition, I draw on studies indirectly related to migration and sexuality that add important issues to our conversation. In general, the literature discussed in this chapter tackles the following questions:

    How does the state monitor, control, and categorize sexuality in the migration and naturalization process? How does this affect the sexuality of first-generation immigrant Latina/os?

    Does a sexual...

  18. 13 Latinas, Sex Work, and Trafficking in the United States
    (pp. 207-216)

    Even though the popular media in the United States often depict Latinas as sex workers, there is little research on the experiences of Latinas working in the sex trade. Only a few small-scale studies examine Latinas engaged in “street” prostitution. National, regional, or local studies that specifically investigate the lives and working conditions of Latinas in the sex industries are nearly nonexistent. In this essay we offer a brief overview of the research available on Latinas whose work is providing commercial sexual services in the United States. We also examine recent U.S. policies pertaining to the traffic in women for...

  19. 14 Latina Lesbianas, BiMujeres, and Trans Identities: Charting Courses in the Social Sciences
    (pp. 217-229)

    This essay reviews the research on Latina lesbians, an understudied population in the social sciences. Migdalia Reyes explains, “Historically, most research and treatment has focused on men, with some recent attention to African American and Latino men. Because of the AIDS epidemic, some attention has recently been given to exploring the treatment needs of gay males. Yet Latina lesbians are one of the least researched population groups.”¹ Interestingly, despite the paucity of empirical studies on this population, there is a rich body of Latina lesbian creative work circulating at film festivals, poetry readings, and comedy shows and in short stories,...

  20. 15 Latina/o Transpopulations
    (pp. 230-242)

    This essay attempts to review the existing literature on the subject of Latina/o transpopulations to describe trends in both the dynamics of these populations and published work on them, as well as to identify knowledge gaps and directions for future research. After more than twelve years of experience with the trans-Latina/o communities of San Francisco, as well as my own research on transgender existence in Latin America, I believed there to be a small but growing number of publications in various media documenting the lives of U.S. Latina/o transgender individuals and populations. I now realize that there are two substantial...

  21. 16 Boundaries and Bisexuality: Reframing the Discourse on Latina/o Bisexualities
    (pp. 243-252)

    What may look like a “threesome,” in this case a couple looking for a third sexual partner, in fact represents an episode in the bisexual history of a young Mexican man who came to the United States less than three years before this event. “Jorge,” the young man who told us the above account, got to San Antonio by taking the Greyhound bus (after three failed attempts to cross the Mexico-U.S. border by foot). Sonia, who is also Mexican, knew that Jorge enjoyed having sex with men and women. In conversations between Jorge and Sonia, he became aware of her...

  22. 17 Revisiting Activos and Pasivos: Toward New Cartographies of Latino/Latin American Male Same-Sex Desire
    (pp. 253-273)

    The publication of this volume provides an overdue opportunity to rethink social science debates about Latino same-sex male sexualities. Given the expertise of members of the advisory board for the Latina/o Sexualities project, we undertook this discussion in the form of a roundtable conversation. Taking Tomás Almaguer’s article “Chicano Men” as a point of departure, and considering the subsequent direction of research on U.S. Latino and Latin American same-sex male sexualities, three scholars joined Almaguer in an in-depth discussion about the foundations of his article and its impact on the current scholarship—including that of the three scholars. Thus, we...

  23. 18 Retiring Behavioral Risk, Disease, and Deficit Models: Sexual Health Frameworks for Latino Gay Men and Other Men Who Enjoy Sex with Men
    (pp. 274-278)

    The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had an inordinate and constraining influence on contemporary ideas about gay Latino male sexual health. For example, sexual health is often and simply understood as the personal capacity to achieve abstinence before marriage, monogamy, the absence of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), including HIV, and/or the consistent, correct, motivated use of condoms during sex.¹ From a public health perspective, deviation from any one of these would be cause for concern and reason to intervene. This view of sexual heath has been codified by public policy, research, and practice.² Scrutinizing gay Latino male sexual practices through this lens...

  24. Epilogue: Rethinking the Maps Where “Latina/o” and “Sexuality” Meet
    (pp. 279-286)

    I am usually surprised and curious about the bits of information maps miss or get wrong. There is the odd intersection or street name that Mapquest, AAA maps, and even Google Earth do not account for—a wrinkle in the positivist empiricism of maps that I delight in, even though it can make arriving at one’s destination a gamble or, as one might say, echoing an expression U.S. East Coast Latinas and Latinos use to talk about difficulty: “un yogurt.”¹ The key lesson I have learned, living and dealing with maps and other empirical renditions of the world around me,...

  25. NOTES
    (pp. 287-354)
    (pp. 355-362)
  27. INDEX
    (pp. 363-376)