As globalization has taken place, many immigrants or transnational identities are affected by trying to integrate new worldviews or cultural aspects into their lives. This globalization has created a two-tier service sector resulting in this immigrants participating in the lower team. They experience temporary wages, no benefits and little sense of social values. This has lead and contributing to the idea of using sexuality as a source of capital, especially for women. Many women who are immigrants or transnational beings have experienced danger such as sexual exploitation and have been placed in many situations that are dangerous to them and take advantage of their transnational identity.
The documentary shown in class, Rape in the Fields, displays the danger and difficult situations that women are placed in daily while obtaining a transnational identity. There is an exploitation of their bodies in this industry of performing labor in the field, as they are being abused and taken advantage of sexually. The men who own the field only employed the women where they can use the women’s sexuality in their favor. The women are there to work with an attempt to earn a living where the men who work there also see these women as sexual favors. The men are paying the women to essentially be there for the men’s wants of sexual acts when they are not busy with manual labor. When looking for work the father was turned down but the field owners were able to hire the daughters, where their sexuality is clearly being exchanged for capital. One women was taken into the fields by one of her bosses in the fields and was raped in his truck. This man was never found guilty because he had the power over this vulnerable girl and whatever he said happened would be taken into account over her acclaims. Her story exemplifies how Mexican women and other immigrants are treated insignificantly when it comes to rape cases and have no power in fighting this off. This women along with many others have a lack of rights and are taken advantage of by the employers who have a higher social and ethnic standing. These undocumented laborers aren’t able to escape this danger and abuse because it provides an income for their family. In order to support their family with a stable income they must put up with the exchange of wages for powerless positions. They fear the thought of deportation and have to experience struggles of being sexually exploited in order to ensure their stay. This could bring much trauma to the women as they live through this necessary exploitation, and also knowing their voices will most likely never be heard. Many immigrants face this where they have to sell their sexuality for money in order to support themselves in a new community. There is a sense of informal power where the women are considered inferior due to their ethnicities and gender. There is also a sense of pressure from the idea of capital feminine, meaning social endowment, and that sexuality can shape the economic opportunities for women. A women’s opportunity for marriage relies on her virginity, where she has the possibility of having a financially stable life. There is value in this realm of sexuality where sex is seen as a commodity. Where labor was exchanged for wages in the documentary Rape in the Fields, virginity is being traded as capital in the case of “capital feminino”.
The immigrant women working in the fields relate to the Filipina women in Lebanon who are also abused and taken advantage of for work where they feel they need to accept this for their working positions. They have generally bad reputations, which sacrifices their opportunities for work. There is a role for Filipino women working in private homes where they must be sexually available for the males in those homes. Here they face sexual harassment and sometimes even rape while working, similar to the immigrant workers in the field. The women do this because there are stereotypes placed among them and they face challenges of living as undocumented workers in hostile environments that include their sexuality. The Filipina immigrant working in Lebanon featured in the reading from the book experiences a feeling of non-acceptance due to their diaspora, or movement from her original homeland. She is not able to obtain a job due to her ethnicity and is not accepted by her homeland community due to her sexuality. Many women face these difficult situations where they are not accepted and there is a pressure to take part in their sexuality, which is seen as a commodity by many.
In these cases with Rape In the Fields and immigrants from our book’s readings, where the women are vulnerable and typically inferior, sexuality is used as a source of capital. Exposing themselves is their way of earning an income, something they need to support themselves and their families with. It is clear that there are many situations where cultures such as these exist and not only just in the United States but all over the world.
Due to the women’s gender and race, do you think they will ever escape situations where they experience exploitation from a person of a higher standing in society? Besides sexuality, are there other forms of currency that can be seen as a source of capital?