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Intersecting Factors: Race, Gender And Sexuality In Immigration

2202 words - 9 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 ...view middle of the document...

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 immigrants travel as a “perfect family,” they are often given the privilege of a quicker migration process under the privilege of unknowing because it is assumed that they are not trying to deceive doctors and workers at Ellis Island. The concept of a “perfect family” can by synonymous with a “nuclear family,” consisting of a mother, father, and offspring. However, this can be challenged by the fact that “the idea of kinship-as-genealogy…remains resilient, despite increasing challenges to procreation-centered notions about what makes a family. This is crucial to remember concerning Ellis Island,” as well as any immigration situation(447). A New York Times piece labels it very common “the situation of women unclaimed at Ellis Island by the sweetheart who came before them… and had to return home(452).” Racial transformations occur not only to bodies, but to attitudes or apprehensions about them as well. Sexual beliefs, ideas, representation, and practices are also changing, often contradictory, and frequently inconsistent. They are “on the move,” as people themselves migrate.
Gender, similar to sexuality, is one of the fundamental social categories anchoring and shaping immigration patterns. It is important to examine traditional gender roles and family systems in different populations to understand their impact on couple dynamics. By gaining different experiences, especially in education, new opportunities are presented to women that put to rest inequitable gender roles. Immigration is also rooted by traditional ideals and allows women to become vulnerable to isolation and legal issues. This is known as gender discrimination, or the systematic, unfavorable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources. One of the most common misconceptions is that only men migrate. Women immigrants have been depicted as being dependant on their spouses, despite the fact they have...

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