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Intersecting Factors: Race, Gender And Sexuality In Immigration

2432 words - 10 pages

The United States was founded through means of immigration; immigrants from everywhere and anywhere around the world. Who are they? How did they get here? Why did they come? Many of these questions can be answered when considering how race, gender, and sexuality affect immigration. Immigration means something to different to everyone and for some it forced, while for others, it is a choice. For some it means pursuing the “American Dream,” for others it may be breaking away from political and religious persecution, but nonetheless, it is always a test. Gender roles, relations and inequalities affect who migrates and why, how the decision is made, the impacts on migrants themselves, on sending areas and on receiving areas. While focusing on immigrant women, Erica Rand’s “Breeders on a Golf Ball: Normalizing Sex at Ellis Island,” Susan Pierce’s “Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience,” and Robert Foster’s “The warmth of Other Suns,” will verify that race, gender and sexuality, as well as gender and social norms, have shaped the ideas of citizenship and immigration.
When typed into one of the world’s largest Internet search engines, “sexuality” comes up with many results. However, no true definition of the word ‘sexuality’ is returned. Results include definitions for human sexuality, sex, and gender. So therefore, one can believe that they are all somewhat synonymous to each other, and can mean many things to many people. Overall, the collective definition of sexuality is “the awareness of gender differences, and the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses. Human sexuality can also refer to the way someone is sexually attracted to another person.” Sexuality affects how migrants adapt to the new country, the extent of contact with the original country and the possibility of return and successful reintegration. Sexuality has also determined what the stereotypical “perfect family” consists of.
Certain immigrants seem to be more welcome than others in the United States than others. Erica Rand’s “Breeders on a Golf Ball: Normalizing Sex at Ellis Island” concerns the normalization of sex at Ellis Island. Immigrants coming from all over bring traditions, as well as “their sexual histories, fantasies, beliefs, and sometimes partners. Immigrants did then, tourists do now.(444)” Perceptions of sex have often contributed to determining the duration of one’s status as ‘alien.’ In 1910, a law was created to deport any alien convicted of prostitution. A more recent example of this involves the perception of Haitian immigrants as carriers of HIV. They were considered a “high-risk” group and were soon barred from donating blood. This brought up the idea that the role of sexual characterization defining admissible body and the way that power informs not just the ability to look or expose, but also not to, also known as the “privilege of unknowing.” This “privilege” still impacts definitions and treatment of immigrants. When...

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