Since the vision of the suffering immigrant or Third World woman and the liberated Western one has so strong a hold on the American imagination, I attempt to demonstrate that the presumption of Western women’s liberation depends upon the notion that immigrant and Third World communities are sites of aberrant violence. … I elucidate this fact by contrasting narratives of here versus there, of us versus them. Part of the reason many believe the cultures of the Third World or immigrant communities are so much more sexist than Western ones is that incidents of sexual violence in the West are frequently thought to reflect the behavior of a few deviants rather than as part of our culture. In contrast, incidents of violence in the Third World or immigrant communities are thought to characterize the cultures of entire nations.
Culture is invoked to explain forms of violence against Third World or immigrant women while culture is not similarly invoked to explain forms of violence that affect mainstream Western women.
The philosopher Uma Narayen has calculated that death by domestic violence in the United States is numerically as significant a social problem as dowry murders in India. But only one is used as a signifier of cultural backwardness: “They burn their women there.” As opposed to: “We shoot our women here.” Yet domestic violence deaths are just as much a part of American culture as dowry death is a part of Indian culture."