The Social Constructions of Sexuality: marital infidelity and sexually transmitted disease—hiv risk in a mexican migrant community By: Rebecca Martinez, Yesenia Quintana, & Yuriana Ramirez
The night before her wedding, a girl kneels down to pray. She prays for 3 things: • Dear God, please make my husband faithful to be me. Dear God, please keep me from finding out when he is unfaithful to me. Dear God, please keep me from caring when he is unfaithful to me. a joke told in Degollado Mexico, summer 1996.
Purpose of the Study • Provide insight about the social construction of sexuality and to study how social context shapes women’s risk of immigration related HIV and Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). • Mexico has created a generational difference in women’s attitudes towards men’s sexual infidelity. • Generational differences between older and younger women in terms of how they talk about sexuality, marriage and infidelity
Overview • Increasing proportion of HIV/AIDS cases in Mex. • Increase in Heterosexual women contracting HIV/AIDS from spouse, along with the neglect of education of such disease • Men immigrating to the United States to work • More men are seeking sexual activity while away from their partner and the attitude and cultural barriers facing such situations
HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Mexico • Increasing proportion of AIDS cases in Mexico are related to Mexican men’s becoming infected in the united states and then returning home to infect their wives. • Previous studies of AIDS risk denial have demonstrated how women’s commitment to the illusion of fidelity can increase the risk of infection with HIV • Not enough culturally sensitive programs that communicate the risk of infection and the need for prevention • Many have argued that seasonal labor migration to the united States is responisbile for the urban-rural differences in sex ratios, and for the increase in HIV/AIDS cases.
US-Mexico Migration- HIV Nexus • There has been a long history of labor migration to the United States from Western Mexico • Significant numbers of married and unmarried men still travel north for 9-10 months every yr from towns throughout Mexico. • Mexican migrants are more likely to seek sexual activity due to loneliness and social isolation. • Low levels of education and limited English make it harder to reach these immigrants about safety and prevention etc • More wide spread use of injected drugs, the lack of Spanish prevention campaigns, and migrants limited access to healthcare also increases their vulnerability to HIV • In 1995, 25% of rural Mexican AIDS cases were among men who had been in the US, where only 6% of people accounting for the urban cases reported travel to the United States
HIV/AIDS Risk Denial and HIV Prevention Strategies • Women saw a clear association between men’s temporary labor migration to the United States and HIV risk • During interviews and casual conversation, women frequently said that the best way to prevent HIV and other STD’s was to have sex only with one’s husband • “Sexo Seguro” (safe sex) is “con tu pareja” (with your partner) • Almost all of the life history informants had heard that condoms prevent the transmission of AIDS and other STD’s but the women’s ideas about the technology, and symbolic aspects of condoms make it unlikely they would push for condom use. • Condoms are not pleasurable, less intimiate
Generational Changes in Marriage and Sexuality • The marital ideal has changed from one of “respeto” (respect) to one of “confianza” (intimacy) • Older generation centered on mutual fulfillment of a gendered set of obligations • Marital success and stability depended on how the couple was able to provide the basic needs of the household • Marital sex produced children and held a man’s attention
Generational Changes in Marriage and Sexuality • For younger generations, marriage is more about emotional closeness • Claimed joint decision making (frequently ultimate masculine authority) • Sexuality within marriage • Claim that mutually pleasurable sexual intimacy strengthens the confianza • "Marital glue”
Infidelity and Companionate Marriage • Older generation valued a pretense of ignorance about a man’s extramarital relationships • “Keep some respect for you” would mean that “you don’t know what they are doing” • Drinking, violence, or laziness were significant problems • Worst quality of a man • “desobligado” (being unwilling or unable to support his family) • Infidelity was not a reason to leave husband
Infidelity and Companionate Marriage • The younger generation viewed men’s sexual behavior as inseparable from marital intimacy • Infidelity would destroy or weaken the confianza • Sexual betrayal indicated a lack of love • Prided themselves on their communication • Communication does not mean they were more likely to suggest the use of condoms for disease prevention purposes
Social Class, Social Context, and Constructions of Sexuality • Reponses to hypothetical infidelity • Those who would leave him • Those who would talk it out • Those who would go out of their way to make him feel special • Those who would do nothing at all
Those Who Would Leave Him • Six out of twenty six women • Women who could support themselves adopted this rights-based language to talk about infidelity • Believed that both partners have the same set of rights • “Before, women did what their husbands said when they got married. The rule was that here the man was the boss… Now we both are the boss.”
Talk it Out • Try to make their husband understand that their wife is worthwhile • Emotional closeness is used as a strategic resource for a woman who is socially and economically dependent on her husband • Stigma of divorce • “El hombre es el respeto de la casa” A woman needs a man to be respected • Ultimately accepting husband’s infidelity
Make Him Feel Special • A successful relationship depends on a woman’s ability to keep her man happy • “manejarlo por las buenas” work through his good side • Focus on their feminine ability to please and hold on to a man. • Ex: A satisfying sex life is a key to a good marriage • Use their feminine wiles to make themselves irresistable • Being more “carinosa” sweeter or loving
Do Nothing at All • Would do nothing in reaction to suspected or confirmed infidelity • Infidelity would not be grounds for separation • Older women • Less educated • Less work experience • Fewer economic independence • Less likely to embrace the new ideology of sexuality
Discussion/Conclusion • The younger generation’s new ideas about sexual intimacy transforms men’s infidelity from a painful reminder of a gender inequality , but not necessarily an indication that marriage is a failure. • Data and research presented could serve as the basis for a prevention program that builds on the ideas of respect and trust (respeto and confianza) to shape health education messages targeted toward men to promote extra marital condom use.
Prevention Strategies • http://youtu.be/xE5Mz9XL5KY • Primary prevention • Secondary prevention • Tertiary prevention