Gina Rodriguez is not her onscreen character, Jane Villanueva. She's a lot less shy and a lot more open when it comes down to getting intimate. In Bust's latest issue, Rodriguez stars as cover girl with her dog Casper, where she opens up about something that links her to her Jane The Virgin alter ego: her upbringing.
Similarly to Jane, Gina was brought up in a community that revolved around religion and more conservative values, which led her to believe many things surrounding sex, virginity and sexuality that she has since learnt otherwise.
Despite her grandmother being a feminist role model in her life - “[My grandmother] is an activist, she is a voice against injustice. I grew up with that.” - her education and the community that she grew up in focused about the shame and disgrace around sex, which gave her distorted beliefs towards sex and herself.
As a teenager, she found herself riddled with guilt when she thought about sex (similarly to Jane), and whilst talking to Bust opened up about how damaging religious beliefs can be, especially with regards to the importance of purity and saving yourself until marriage.
“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.
Gina also suffered much at the hands of her peers and teachers when it came to sex education. The sexual analogies that she was hounded with in reference to women who were non-virgins - and their supposed loss of value as a result - were also detrimental to her self-worth, as a victim of abuse (Rodriguez lost her virginity as a result of rape).
“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,” Rodriguez said. “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.”
Luckily for Rodriguez, she no longer maintains the same worries surrounding self-worth and sexuality, and uses her platform to speak out about her experiences. Rather than continuing to encourage young people to suppress and punish their sexuality, she's working to open up a healthier conversation surrounding the subject.
We love that she's got such an open dialogue around sex for her followers to engage with, and how beneficial this is for countless young people, either victims of sexual abuse or those brought up in similar communities to Rodriguez. Just when you think she couldn't be more amazing, she's also a very proud feminist - she joined the Women's March wearing a t-shirt saying torch your bra - as well as being an outspoken advocate for diversity in film and TV.
Is there anything this woman can't do?