It’s the most natural thing as people say and I am often surprised about sexuality, taboos and sex education here in Mexico. I recently had a really honest conversation with a few members of Gus and my family about this. It got me thinking and I decided to talk about this topic today.
When I first came to Mexico, I was really surprised how sensual and sexual everything seemed in comparison to buttoned-up Germany. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Germans are generally prude, but we still don’t like to make this topic too public. The first time my husband came to Germany, I remember very well how he wanted to kiss me passionately in public – or worse – in front of my parents. I just didn’t feel very comfortable about that back then, whereas he didn’t really see what the problem was. He was totally fine kissing me in front of his parents. In Mexico, everything you see in everyday life is more sexual – the music and lyrics that go with it, how people dress (especially girls) and dance and the language itself as mexican spanish is filled with (sexual) ambiguous sayings.
Now the funny thing is that when it comes to the topic of sex and sex education, mexicans are surprisingly conservative. Gus and me just recently had an honest talk with our nieces (15 and 19 years old) and realized that there were some gaps in their knowlegde and they weren’t as prepared as we would have hoped. If I’m not mistaken, I had sex education three times in school. We talked about anatomy, hormones, contraception, myths and truths and feelings. The rest did our parents and if necessary, informative material from the gynaecologist or the internet. Now I learned that our nieces also had this topic in school, in seperate classes for boys and girls, but that especially the female teachers feel far too awkward and embarrassed to really give an informative education. For example, our nieces didn’t know how to put on a condom – so we quickly took the biggest carrot we had in the fridge and showed them.
There are a lot of unplanned and teenage pregnancies in Mexicos – almost everyone has this one friend who became a parent while still in high school. Abortion is in most families unthinkable due to religion and tradition. So teenage girls become single mothers because the relationship with the father usually doesn’t endure. The father pays his part of child support but in most cases sees his kid every two weeks or less when he lives further away. After a few years the mother might consider going back to school or University, but only if she can count on the support from her family. Otherwise, this is not possible and she probably never achieves what she once dreamt of.
And all of this happens because people still believe in myths like the “Pull-out method” or are simply too lazy to get condoms from the store around the corner if they don’t have any in the moment of need. We have several friends who became parents this way or who dodged the bullet and then do the exact same mistake again….
Another idea people have, is that breastfeeding is a natural birth Control and you can’t get pregnant while doing it – well, my youngest niece (8 months old) is the result of just this misbelief.
I have also realized that most mexicans feel uncomfortable to openly talk about this topic: For example if we are in a circle of friends and someone makes an ambiguous joke, I usually know that people laugh because it’s something sexual, but because I don’t really understand the joke, I ask the person to explain it to me. Some people don’t have a problem with that, but a lot do and don’t really want to explain because they feel ashamed. Same applies for honest conversations about sex: a lot of people feel embarrassed and cannot talk about it – they start laughing nervously or change the topic. These two opposite sides to the topic are fascinating for me: How can sex be so present in the culture in music, advertisement, clothes etc. and at the same moment be something people talk about so little when it is a real problem for society relating to teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases?
I guess – this is yet another big difference between Germany and Mexico, between an open-minded society and a traditional, religious one: In Germany we might not be comfortable with public display of affection, parents tell their daughters to don’t wear that belly top and we certainly don’t dance as sensual as Mexicans do, but kids receive sex education, “friends with benefits” or “open relationships” are no foreign words anymore and with good friends you can certainly talk about the subject openly. In Mexico, there is a lot of public display of affection and the society is filled with sexy images, but there are a lot of taboos, the lack of knowlegde causes troubles and to openly talk about the topic in any way is a problem.