Ysanet Batista


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How I Learned To Embrace My Blackness as a Dominican Woman

Article public on HipLatina.com

Cierra Las Piernas: Vagina & Shame Part I

Cierra las piernas // Close your legs

No dejes su toalla sanitaria en el zafacón con sangre // Don’t leave your pad in the garbage can visible with blood

No andes con pantalones cortos en la casa cuando haiga hombres aquí // Don’t wear shorts in the house when men are here

No dejes tus panties tirados // Don’t leave your panties around

Lavate con jabón de cuaba o Lemisol  // Wash yourself with Cuaba Soap or Lemisol

These were just of the few messages I grew up hearing about my vagina. Mucho control desde temprana edad over an area of body I still had to learn, that I had yet to even look at it in its entirety. A body part that at 26 years of age I am now getting to know. Spending the last 26 years controlando para la comodidad, protección y placer del otro, particularmente de los hombres. Because the women in my family feel that it is not a part of ourselves that needs more attention. These messages were about keeping my vagina under control to not give temptation to men or make men feel uneasy. These messages were told to me and other young women around me by our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. They share with me these messages to protect me and I wonder if they see how they have denied themselves a relationship with their vagina. These messages continue to be carried on from generation to generation. Nicknames like popolita that make it sound cute, endearing. These messages that have me at 26 recently discovering masturbation and STILL have a hard time wearing shorts in public.

The first time I left my underwear visibly in the hamper instead of hand washing them I was 13. My mom’s boyfriend who was living with us called me an asquerosa and it hurt so deeply, taking me to a deep place of shame and wanting mami to give him a piece of her mind for calling me that. Instead, she told me that he did not mean it in that way and proceeded to remind me how I should indeed be privately hand washing my underwear in the shower. To protect her boyfriend from seeing period stains in my underwear, in our hamper even though he drops his boxers & briefs, stained, in there everyday.

That moment and others after throughout my formative years would continue to water the seed of shame that was planted in me about my vagina. What was not sewed in me was the functions of it, the proper name of it (vulva), the power of it, and my responsibility to it.

To be continued...


This essay is part of the the #52Essays2017 writing challenge I am participating in (along with 600+ people) created by the writer  Vanessa Mártir as well as my #Breakthrough26 challenge where I do shit that scares me. Woosah!

Ysanet Batista