Family and Fertility in Puerto Rico: A Study of the Lower Income Group

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

They are extremely prudish in theory and practice, with regard to the insulation and protection of the female, apparently more so than the middle class. The latter often attend functions in Agua Lluvia where the sexes mix freely, an unheard-of occurrence for lower-class families, where sex separation lines cross every area of life. The puritanism of the rural lower-class family of our study seems as rigid as that practiced by the people who settled New England in the 17th and 18th Centuries.26

Thus, much of the observational evidence, while it leaves much to be desired, tends to support some of our general conclusions concerning the courtship period.


CONCLUSIONS

Courtship, an institution which usually serves to acquaint the sexes with one another prior to marriage, is unusually weak in this function in Puerto Rico. The cloister pattern continues to operate during this period, chaperonage and parental supervision insuring that the girl will have a minimum amount of contact with her fiancé. Moreover, the relationship between the courting couple is ideally one of considerable reserve; modesty and mutual respect being the appropriate demeanor to insure a minimum of intimacy.

Not only is the female denied the opportunity for a realistic testing out of sex and intimate interpersonal relationships with her future spouse, but the degree of general knowledge concerning marital relationships appears to be of a limited and distorted nature. The premarital conceptions of marriage appear to be characterized by fear and ignorance.

Males, on the other hand, indulge in heterosexual experiences with prostitutes at an early age, and regard sexual relations as a pleasureful activity required of the "complete man." However, social sanctions and attitudes of respect toward the fiancée discourage the initiation of premarital sexual relationships with the intended spouse. At the same time, males appear to want wives who resemble their mothers in the sense of protectiveness, tenderness, and modesty, another factor which might inhibit physical intimacy.

____________________
26
D. Landy, "Childrearing Patterns in a Puerto Rican Lower Class Community" (unpublished manuscript, University of Puerto Rico, 1952).

-85-

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Family and Fertility in Puerto Rico: A Study of the Lower Income Group
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Tables xiii
  • Figures xvii
  • I- Introduction 3
  • II- Differential Status Ideologies of the Sexes 29
  • III- Child-Rearing Practices 37
  • Conclusions 58
  • IV- Courtship 60
  • Conclusions 85
  • V- Early Marriage and Consensual Union 87
  • Conclusions 120
  • VI- Marital Relations 122
  • VII- Attitudes toward Fertility- The Fertility Belief System 158
  • Summary 180
  • VIII- Attitudes toward Birth Control 182
  • IX- The Dynamics of Birth-Control Use 217
  • X- Summary and Recommendations 242
  • Concluding Remarks 254
  • Appendix A- Methodology 256
  • Appendix B- Respondent Characteristics 293
  • Appendix C- The Construction of Indices 297
  • Appendix D- Interview Forms 300
  • Appendix E- Categories for File Index of Selected Quotations 315
  • List of Works Cited 316
  • Index 323
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