Latinas and Latinos

Garcia-Preto (1998) shares her treatment strategies with Latinas. She provides Latinas, who have been socialized to adopt a very traditional gender role, an opportunity to discuss freely the dictates of their culture. For example, when sexuality is an issue, together they examine closely the "virginity myth," that is, the idea that a man will marry and take care of a woman—if she protects her virginity and her reputation until marriage. Further examination of the myth reveals that it is unrealistic to expect a man to take care of her. "Virgins and martyrs go hand in hand in Latino cultures, and their glorification perpetuates male dominance and female oppression" (Garcia-Preto, 1998, p. 335).

When a working Latino expresses conflict over the necessity of leaving her children at daycare or even with family, Garcia-Preto (1998) helps the client reframe the issue by pointing out that going to work to earn money to provide for her children's needs is part of being a good mother. Latinas, whose desire for independence leads them to prioritize searching for a husband, are encouraged by Garcia-Preto to develop their own self-reliance first. In one case, she encouraged a client to take college courses as a way of increasing her self-confidence through the acquisition of marketable skills. In another example, Latino lesbians are reminded that their very marginalization can be a source of tremendous power. Because they are on the periphery of acceptance, they can lead the way as far as critiquing issues important to the Latina community, such as, traditional gender roles, sexuality, and homophobia.

Another issue for Asian American women and Latinas relates to the acceptability of psychological androgyny. African American and American Indian cultures, in general, have promoted masculinity in women. However, Asian/Asian American culture and Latino culture have given more emphasis to femininity in women. Given the negative relationship between masculinity and depression and the positive relationship between masculinity and self-esteem, it would seem wise for therapists working with Asian American women and Latinas to encourage the development of such instrumental characteristics as independence and assertiveness. Besides the aforementioned relationships among instrumentality, depression, and self-esteem, the dominant culture tends to reward masculine characteristics. It is equally important for therapists to point out to clients that femininity need not be replaced by masculinity. Research has shown, generally, that it is not the absence of femininity but the presence of masculinity that contributes to good mental health (Whiteley, 1985).

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