Sexuality and nations
How migrant women workers are vulnerable to gendered and sexualized forms of violence and exploitation
Women are treated as biological reproducers of a nation. However, they are passive victims, ideologies, policies, and objects that are aimed at controlling how they reproduce. States have policies that devalue the native or dark-skinned immigrants as they exclude their children from the community. It is a paradox that can be critically analyzed to resolve the American immigrant policy. It is depressing to know that America opens its borders for immigrants to get cheap labor. However, the same people see the demographic shift as a threat to their national identity. Immigrants play a major role in the lives of the White American. They offer cheap labor and allow Americans to enjoy more affordable products produced by exploiting immigrants. It is, therefore, exploitative to deny these people the privilege of citizenship as well as giving birth. The immigrants are only needed as an economic contribution but are not allowed to enjoy their rights to having children and citizenship. Denying immigrant, these rights, and especially, their children, a pluralist redefinition of citizenship, perpetuates racist ideals of the American identity
Women continue to influence and also affect the national and ethnic processes of a nation. Reason being women has a natural role to bear children. Women have a reproductive role in the national and ethnic discourses that are central to the reality of how origin plays in the construction of a nation. However, nationalist and racist ideologies are interwoven and determine who is to be included or excluded in society. In most cases, the primary factor that can make an immigrant conceivably join the nation is by intermarriage. However, some people are occupied with the issue of purity of race. South Africa was the first government that gave legal permission for different races to marry. It was a move aimed at the abolition of apartheid (Yuval-Davis,1997).
There is an international dimension that involves the trafficking of women and children for adoption. According to Yuval-Davis (1997), it is a horrific trade in the fetus as well as child’s organs for transplantation and research. It is evident that the issue involves individuals who are desperate for children and economic resources. The trade embroils the buying and selling of products between powerful nations and the ones with higher reproductive rates. One may argue using surrogacy and adoption. Nonetheless, some women are encouraged, sometimes discouraged or even forced to have or never to have children. In other instances, there are subjected to antenatal tests to determine the gender of the baby.
There has been a notion that people of color, including the native community, pollute the body politic to inform the population control movement. People of color continue to be incriminated for destruction, war, and poverty. In that sense, women are vulnerable to violence and exploitation. These women are a threat to a nation as they have the capability to reproduce and create communities and generations of color. That is the reason there are controls in the US on the reproductive abilities of these women. The controls were to try and prevent Native women from reproducing, which stands in the way for the whites in conquering the Native lands.
Historically Native women, as well as children, have been targeted for wholesale killing. According to Smith (2002), colonizers such as Andrew Jackson did recommend his troops to kill Indian women and children in massacres to exterminate them. Women sexuality is also at stake since their body is subjected to dangerous contraception. The only aim is to stop the Native woman from reproducing and as Sharon Powell describes in the text, these women are better dead than being pregnant. The United States and other countries have initiated fully funded sterilization campaigns that are intended for women from reproducing.
The US in the 1970s did these campaigns and performed the procedures, but failed to meet the federal guidelines. Reason being, there was no informed consent. There was a case of an Indian woman who had received a complete hysterectomy at 20 years. However, she had not received any information regarding the operation, specifically that it was irreversible. She, therefore, entered a Los Angeles office and requested a womb transplant. The Indian woman was probably healthy at the time she got the hysterectomy, but due to the incidence of malpractice, she was violated (Smith, 2002). According to Native activists, they argue that the number of women who are sterilized is high.
The continuous attacks on the reproductive rights of women are a clear indication of the vulnerability they are to gendered and sexualized practices of violence as well as exploitation. It is a strategy and a war against the native women and nations. The attacks metaphorically transformed the native people since they are viewed as polluted and dirty, and thus have to be purified. It is a selfish interest of the States to try and limit the population growth of the Black People. These persons have continued to grow after the world war II, which made most African American people leave exploited jobs. It resulted in a surplus of unemployed colored persons in the land. Smith, A. (2002). On the other hand, most of the energy resources in the country were on Indian Lands. As such, the Indians were a threat to the Whites and American capitalism.
It is ironic and more astonishing that the US denies its history and is actively destroying the structure of kinship. They are afraid that America may be tied to Africa through slavery. However, America’s ambition to do away with the Native and woman of color has not come to be. In fact, there are increases in the number of immigrant South Americans, Asians, Caribbean and even Africans in the country. Another factor is the emphasis on heterosexuality and monogamy for the immigrants. The naturalization law has become part of the larger cultural and also political focus on sexual discipline (Roberts, 1998). It has promoted the nuclear family. However, there were normative sexuality models that supported racist structures. The legislative tests on immigration and naturalization and the exclusions based on homosexuality and adultery were measured for blood purification.
Laws that determine who to give birth to citizens discriminate against immigrant women. There is a political theory on immigration. It involves efforts to restrict immigrants from giving birth to citizens. The legislation to prohibit immigrants from using health services violates the rights of women. It is a strategy to control the birth of citizens from immigrants. Preventing women from accessing the health services is designed to reduce the reproduction of these groups. However, it sends a message to these people on who is worthy of having children in the community, which is violating the nature of life. The US is racial in their move to deny the colored or dark-skinned immigrants from giving birth to citizens. It demonstrates that America is only for the White identity. The law also eliminates the automatic citizenships of children born of immigrants. It is the right of every woman or human being to bear children (Luibhéid & Cantú, 2005). The denying any woman this right is punishing or depriving her the primary point of her humanity. Every woman longs to have the ability to bear children who are included in the community. Therefore, the measures to treat these children as undocumented or unworthy of citizenship is racial.
Overall, the ability of colored and native women to reproduce communities and next generations stand in the way for the government and the takeovers of the Indian land. These women are not seen as nation builders or contributors but are viewed as pollutants of the nation. It is a phenomenon that is threatening the well-being of the white nation or the colonial body. According to these insensitive groups, the Native woman is not beneficial and is better dead than alive reproducing.
- Luibhéid, E., & Cantú Jr, L. (2005). Queer migrations: Sexuality, US citizenship, and border crossings. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Roberts, D. E. (1998). Who may give birth to citizens–reproduction, eugenics and immigration.
- Smith, A. (2002). “Chapter 5: Better dead than pregnant: The colonization of Native women’s reproductive health.” In policing the national body: sex, race, and criminalization by Silliman, J. M., Bhattacharjee, A., Davis, A. Y., & Committee on Women, Population, and the Environment. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press.
- Yuval-Davis, N. (1997). Gender and Nation: SAGE Publications. London: SAGE Publications.
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