Gina Rodriguez Talks Purity Culture, Feminism & Diversity Onscreen with Bust Magazine

She may play a sort-of conservative, family woman who was brought up with religious values in her household when it comes to sexuality, but Gina Rodriguez’s onscreen character in her hit TV show ‘Jane The Virgin’ is quite different from the real life actress. In a recent interview with Bust magazine, where she appears on the cover, Gina talks about her own upbringing, and how religion did play a part in how she thinks about sexuality and feminism today.

Like many people raised in an environment where religion and conservative social values were key, Gina was immersed in the purity culture familiar to many across America.

“I was definitely raised with that. In all honesty, I used to feel guilty for masturbating. Oh my god, this extreme guilt! And that lasted way too long. Or maybe I masturbated too much! It’s OK to look back in retrospect and be like, it wasn’t good that I felt bad about touching myself. And it isn’t bad that I want to share my love with my boyfriend. I’m 32 years old, I’m an adult, I can do that!” she said.

While she didn’t go into great detail about the more harmful aspects of purity culture, there is another public figure who has. Elizabeth Smart, the young woman who was kidnapped and raped as a 14 year-old, grew up in the Mormon religion, and since being rescued and speaking publicly about her ordeal, she has given keynote addresses on how purity culture made her recovery difficult at times.

“There’s another side of it that can be potentially very harmful, especially when a lot of religions teach that sexual relations are meant for marriage… It’s so stressed that girls in particular tie their worth to their virginity, or, for lack of a better word, purity,” she said.

Since she had her virginity stolen from her due to rape, when she was back in her conservative community learning some of the more typical sexual analogies of a woman being like a used piece of chewing gum without any flavor once she has had sex, the implications on her as a victim of abuse were awful.

“I just remember thinking, This is terrible. Do they not realize I’m sitting in class? Do they not realize that I’m listening to what they’re saying? Those are terrible analogies. No one should use them, period. Especially for someone who’s been raped, they’ve already felt these feelings of worthlessness, of filth, of just being so crushed, and then to hear a teacher come back and say, ‘Nobody wants you now’… You just think, I should just die right now,” she said.

Thankfully people brought up in this environment, like Gina Rodriguez who has an enormous public platform, are speaking out about their experiences in the hope it can foster more healthy dialog around sexuality, rather than teaching youth to suppress it. But not everything about Gina’s upbringing was negative, and she credits one person in particular for introducing her to feminism.

“Hell yeah [I’m a feminist]. Everybody should be a feminist. My grandmother is the biggest feminist. She is an activist, she is a voice against injustice. I grew up with that,” she said.

In January 2017, Gina joined millions of people around the US and the world who took part in the Women’s March, wearing a shirt saying “torch your bra”, which is a throwback to the Second Wave feminists who literally burned their bras as a form of activism.

Gina also previously shared an image of her and ‘Jane The Virgin’ co-star Justin Baldoni turning up to work on set both wearing “femininist” tees.

Aside from being candid about her political views and upbringing, the award-winning actress is an outspoken advocate for diversity on screen. You may remember her Golden Globe Award win and speech in 2015, which was the CW Network’s first major industry award also. She talked about growing up being instilled with the idea that she can achieve her dreams, and her win overwhelmingly proved that.

“This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to be seen as heroes..the nomination alone was a win for me because it allowed Latinos to see themselves in a beautiful light. We are dealing with a society that is so diverse, so beautiful and so human. We need to remember that we have the same stories, and see it as such,” she said on stage.

Today, she is just as passionate about supporting diversity and has some clear ways to ensure audiences can make this happen.

“Don’t consume the products [that don’t represent you]. Especially Latinos! Latinos make up 38 percent of the box office every weekend. That’s a lot! So if you want to see Latinos in big studio films, and they don’t exist in them, don’t see them, because in this industry, money talks more than anything. If you do not see yourself and your community in the ways that you want, don’t purchase tickets. If you don’t purchase, they’ll stop making [something exclusive]. If you don’t purchase, they’ll start to include,” she told Bust magazine.

We’ll consume what Gina Rodriguez has to say any day and love that she is using her fame to talk about important subjects.

 

 

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