Human sexuality defined within a broader contextualized framework: Puerto Rican culture as a model for religious education

Maritza Ortiz Cruz, Fordham University


This dissertation examines how contemporary transformative religious education guidelines and principles foster emancipation and sexual wholeness for Puerto Rican women who have suffered sexual violence and sexual injustice. The researcher employs textual analysis, historical inquiry, and feminist hermeneutics to draw from feminist religious educators, feminist theologians, and feminist historians to critique the complex social role of women within Puerto Rican society and culture. Chapter one introduces the thesis and offers an overview of the methodology, resources, and the unique focus of this dissertation. Chapter two analyzes the social role of women in the private and public sphere in pre-Spanish Taino/as society, and shows how Spanish colonialism imposed sexual violence and human injustice upon the Taino/as during the conquest of Boriken. It examines the categories of religion, family, politics, sexuality, and social economic structures and highlights the contribution of the women of Boriken. Special attention is paid to the influence of Spanish colonialism and the sexuality of women in the context of heteropatriarchal subordination and promiscuous masculinity. Chapter three focuses on US colonialism in Puerto Rico and the evolving DiaspoRican women living in the Puerto Rican migration. It highlights the effects that two major US social projects Operación a la Obra (Operation Bootstrap), and Las Operaciónes (Sterilization Abuse) had on Puerto Rican women on the island and the Puerto Rican Diaspora. It also explores the evolution of the Puerto Rican feminist movement and how it fostered emancipation for Puerto Rican women. In Chapter four an interdisciplinary lens is used to analyze Western sexual ideologies and how they inform Puerto Rican sexuality. The final chapter outlines contemporary transformative religious principles and guidelines for implementing a transformative religious educational framework, a feminist pedagogy, and a feminist historical hermeneutics which fosters human flourishing, a deeper spirituality, and a religious way of living for Puerto Rican women who have suffered all forms of sexual violence and sexual injustice.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious education|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Cruz, Maritza Ortiz, "Human sexuality defined within a broader contextualized framework: Puerto Rican culture as a model for religious education" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3554027.