Today was our last seminar, during which we discussed Fixing Men: Sex, Birth Control and AIDS in Mexico. I found this to be the most interesting book and seminar because it finally cleared up my questions about what sex education is like in Mexico and why I have not seen any encouragement of use of birth control. The author Matthew Gutmann examines what seems to be lacking in the anthropological world- an understanding of heterosexual males’ sexuality, the cultural attitude of sex (specifically in Mexico), and the risks of it. As he explains, there seems to be an immediate assumption that males are sex-driven and females are more reserved, which in itself changes the way males and females act. In Mexico, males are culturally permitted to express (and act upon) their sexuality and sexual desires, while women are expected to be tamer in their actions as well as be responsible for providing some form of birth control, especially since the 1960’s with the emergence of the birth control pill. Mexico is an example of a country in which the problem is not limited access to condoms/birth control, but rather is the culture of sex, lack of encouragement by society, and public knowledge of how to use them. There are a lot of good programs in the healthcare system here, but I certainly think it’s time to create one that encourages use of condoms as well as provides sex education for both men and women. This simple step could dramatically affect the spread of STDs/HIV as well as decrease accidental pregnancies in Mexico. The seminar sparked some good discussions and comparisons, which made it really enjoyable and interesting.
Afterwards, we had our "closing comida" at a charming Oaxacan restaurant. Here we shared a meal together for the last time, and reflected on our experiences. We came up with a list of highs and lows of the trip, and discussed what we were surprised by throughout the trip. We reminisced and almost brought ourselves to tears. It feels like we've turned into a family, living together in Mexico. None of us want to leave yet! We're all extremely sad to go. Fortunately, I'm staying here for two more weeks with my parents and will get a chance to relax and explore. I just wish everyone else could stay, too. Tonight will be our last night together, so we're going out on the town and having some last minute bonding. I'm going to miss everyone so much, but I know these will be lasting friendships and surely we'll keep in touch in New Brunswick.
I think this whole experience was wonderful and I can't imagine being back in the United States. I've grown so used to being here that I forgot what it felt like to be in the U.S. As I've said before, I love everything about Oaxaca and want to spend more time here. I have learned so much, made so many friends, grown as person, and will never forget this experience.