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Yenisel Rodriguez Perez, Havana Times: Eroticism and STD Prevention in Cuba


Eroticism and STD Prevention in Cuba
by Yenisel Rodriguez Perez, October 4, 2011

Sexual education programs implemented against STDs-HIV/AIDS by the National Prevention Center (NPC, the official institution that leads the fight against those evils in Cuba) have not transcended the logic of illness prevention.

The hegemonic impact of such a prevention strategy has permeated all models of sexual education in Cuba.  Their far-sighted yet catastrophist vision has excluded basic identifying aspects of Cuban sexuality and eroticism, though these should form a part of sexual education and instruction at all age levels.

NPC is immersed in an exhausting struggle to reduce the STD and HIV infestation index in our country.  Yet the panorama is extremely complex as those indexes are increasing, despite the effects of funding and the efforts of activists.  This has conditioned them to embrace any informational strategy that serves to influence perception about social exposure to these illnesses.

State and government pressure on the NPC has led it to commit very dangerous errors.  One of these has been this utilitarian and opportunist use that has been made of erotic zones that were historically censored from the Cuban imagination.

These have featured “hot” issues in the mass media, ones that were previously censored, though their presentations of these fail to surpass superficiality.  What are shown are only the most stereotypical aspects of Cuban erotic imagination that could be thought of, erroneously, in the belief that this approach is capable of harmonizing the norms of prevention with the ethical codes of our imagination.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

This urgency has generated a kind of visual whirlwind that attacks — without rhyme or reason — with intense symbolic gusts and in all directions.  Unforeseeably, this onslaught of gale-force winds can please or plague us.  No one can anticipate what will happen in the next public service message or what will be displayed on the upcoming poster.  Legitimation and stigmatization are the bullets in a round of Russian roulette that involves everyone but that no one controls.

If pornography and orgies would assure a considerable reduction in the infestation index, I have no doubt that the government institutions would begin implementing such an advertising campaign in such a way that the orgies of ancient Greece would seem like mere children’s programming.

Fortunately, recycling has limitless potential.  That’s why young people are tantalized when they’re presented with hypocritical exposures of the “hottest” zones of our erotic imagination.  The paraphernalia of pro-sensualist de-prejudicing allows youth to express and experience their most authenticate needs and erotic demands.

Many of us recycle the official mega-structure of sexual education and prevention.

Pharmacies are now more accessible when I need to buy medicine; they used to be torture.  There, I discover posters with erotic scenes of young women and their poses that didactically invite you to protect yourself when you go to “make love.”   The message and its aesthetics also make the interaction with the pretty pharmacy clerks more bearable.  The pictures on the posters eroticize interaction thereby reducing the possibility of abuse against the customers, which has been practiced so often in pharmacies.

One day in a bookstore in the Santos Suarez neighborhood, I discovered coasters that simulated still-rolled-up condoms.  When I decided to take a few home, the supposed coasters uncoiled like they were yo-yos.

The clerk, dying of laughter, poked fun at me in the middle of the bookstore saying: “Baby, you really get excited easy.”

I didn’t know how to respond, but after a few days I returned to the bookstore to orchestrate a repeat bit of comedy that caused more laughter from the young woman at the counter.  But from that day on she has reserved the best books for me when they come into the shop, and there’s never a lack the NPC promotional material around to spice up our encounters.

All of this is thanks to that good use that we make of that utilitarian un-prejudicing effort as we seek — without achieving it — a “sincere” dialogue with the erotic imagination of the people.

Although we presently coexist with greater shares of democratization before that which is erotic, we’re still forced to resist subtle forms of puritanism and to recycle synthetic and artificial stances.

More authenticate manners of sharing our corporal and spiritual eroticisms — publically and widely — apparently imply great social and political risks.

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