Explain the relevance of migration and how transnational families powerfully alter the identity politics of their members in terms of culture and gender. Use the materials from the class to write an essay emphasizing these transformations focusing on the topic of how migration is a powerful transformational force.
Migration, gendered labor markets in the receiving countries, and socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds of the immigrants, and differential vulnerabilities of males and females in the home and host societies, have very complex relationships and have been proved to be topics of significant importance and always open for further research. However, from the gender module, and transnationalism studies in this course has provided many insights into the relationship between migration and how transnational families powerfully alter the identity politics of their members in terms of culture and gender.
Study of women who migrated from the gender biased cultures to the United States due to the high demand for women intensive labor industries like health care and other services brings about two aspects of how identity politics have been experienced. On one hand, these women were exploited for their small sizes, financial needs, and gender. Pessar (1999) finds that due to the racist and patriarchal assumptions that women can work for less payments, they don’t mind working for extended hours on dead end jobs, and that their physiological characteristics make them suitable for such work, their social vulnerabilities are used to exploit their hard work. This research quotes the statement from a hiring manager who says that he looks for three characteristics to find a suitable worker and they are ‘small’, ‘foreign’ and ‘female’. This example shows how the identity politics based on gender are being misused to exploit the identity of immigrant women based on gender and background culture.
On the other hand, more opportunities for women in the receiving country not only help them to enjoy a leading role over their counter parts as opposite to their home culture but also they are being able to challenge the patriarchal authorities of men. The greater emancipatory nature of immigration makes majority of immigrant women to transform not only as a major contributor to the household, but also to experience greater independence and personal autonomy. For example, consider the case of the Vietnams’ woman who says that back in their country, traditionally the society was very gender biased in terms of power of decisions and other social status. Women would be treated as inferior to men as well as children. However, she appreciates the emancipatory nature of immigration which has not only brought women up in their social status but have taken men down to the level of pet in the house. This example shows that how the emancipatory role of immigration has changed the women in experiencing their rights. This also shows a challenge to the patriarchal authority and a complete shift in the identity of man who experienced greater authority in his own home culture.
However, how does identity politics work among immigrant ethnic societies has not been that simple. The role of immigration in altering the identity politics has been dependent on several factors like socio-economic status, educational attainment, and ethnic background of the immigrants. For example, in case of professional immigrant men and women, both have been enjoying equal rights by sharing the domestic job. Men have been working side by side with their female part in the domestic labor. However, this has been observed by researchers that been living in the close vicinity with the whites has a role in this equality of rights.
Immigration has been having a negative role in case of majority Asian immigrant women who work for the self-employed businesses. Such women are subject to double labor due to their domestic as well as business responsibilities. They are put to work on the business to keep it open for extended hours after they complete their domestic duties. Even some of the women are supposed to complete the domestic work in parallel with running the business as a free laborer. They have to cook on the business spot. Older women among Asian immigrant communities are supposed to take care of the kids and some domestic activities while younger women are put to hard work at the business. Such women find least opportunities due to limitations on their free movement, interaction with others, making close friends and enhancing their professional skills. On the hand, men are only responsible for their part of the business work without worrying about the domestic labor. Such Asian immigrants always have the opportunities to learn new skills, enhance existing capabilities, and make close friends’ networks. This example shows how gender roles are used to suppress women and limiting their exposure to opportunities.
Among immigrant communities with low socio-economic status, the situation is even more different. Since men don’t have more education, and high level skills, and there is dearth of opportunities for low skilled males as compared to women who are always welcomed into the labor intensive secondary service markets, they earn more than men. To make their living good and to contribute more to the household, such women often work extended shifts, and multiple jobs. Due to lake of employment for their male counterparts, most of the domestic labor responsibilities come over the man. Since these men usually belong to gender biased societies in their home cultures, where men always enjoy patriarchal authorities while women are always subjugated to their authorities. This change in the men’s patriarchal role brings them more frustration, while women enjoy more personal autonomy and independence. Research shows that this change in patriarchal roles of men has resulted in damage to the so-called social status of men. Being hurt by this change in their role, most of men start drinking excessive alcohol while another majority have experienced beating their women and eventually taking their relationship to an end with divorce. Although some women enjoy the emancipatory nature of migration, however, some women from specific ethnic backgrounds till go back to accept their subjugated status as taught by their home society. These women consider that sacrificing for the sack of keeping intact with the family values is beneficial to them for future security.