When Women Come First Book Review Essay example

Submitted By teanasmith
Words: 823
Pages: 4

When Women Come First focuses on the home, work, and community fortes of Keralite

immigrants from India. The author, Sheba Mariam George, gives insight to the lifestyles of the

immigrants through her encounters with the Keralites. The women were raised in traditional

households and their responsibilities consisted of cooking, cleaning, and maintain the family at

home while the men where the sole providers. Their lifestyles were categorized into groupings of

men who were head of the households, pre and post immigration, and ones who were not, who

were obligated to take on leaderships roles in other areas such as church, home-life, and etc. The

The women who immigrated challenge the aspect of gender order and contradict gender

roles. (Twine 1864) The women migrated first, and acquire jobs as nurses. The women are

already accustomed to such professions because it was frequented by many women in India. The

job in deemed as low status. The educations that they received in India were not the same and

not sufficient to obtain employment in the U.S., but it did provide enough practice so that once

they arrived they were able to take the needed examinations to become certified to work. Due to

the quality of education that the immigrants obtained in the homeland, they were mocked for and

teased with comments such as, “Do you have your passport ready?” Contrary to the duties

performed as a nurse in the U.S., one of the interviewees stated “nursing involved cleaning sick

and diseased bodies, it was seen as dirty work.” Femininity and masculinity were both tested in

this aspect of migration. The women migrate first, obtain employment, and either support the

family overseas or they (the family) join them later. This differs from the usual method of

immigration in which men migrate first or families migrate at the same time, stabilize

themselves economically, and attempt to integrate into society. The women also experienced

many social barriers while working in the U.S. They suffered acts of racism from doctors,

nurses, and patients but also experienced a greater form of independence in the workplace versus

in India. This stigma of the women being the “bread winners” was discouraging to the men and

caused men to feel a loss of identity. The men’s social life also lessened since they felt less of a

connection with the other men and felt isolated.

George also discovered the “compromises and adjustments” that the Kerala men made.

George compared traditional households and partnership households. In traditional households,

the men were the primary immigrants. They had a higher status and were superior to the women.

If this children joined the parents during migration then the woman took care of the, otherwise,

there were sent back to Kerala to reside with extended family. If the women worked, they were

short house so it still allowed for the man to be the primary provider. The men also controlled

the financial decision making, while participation allowed for both the men and women to play a

part in the home life, women were the primary immigrants. They maintained the high status and,

essentially, the roles were switched. The shared the same roles when it came to child care and

housework and collectively managed their money as one but the woman handled their