Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mail Order Brides and Opportunity

I hope that one joke a couple months ago didn't scare away all the feminists and women's studies majors, because this is a paper they'd find pretty ridiculous.

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Anonymous dana khan said...

I don't know, a lot of your comments from the opinion that mail order brides are mistreated sex slaves. I guess I've always been of the opinion that most mail order brides are ordered by either lonely older men who lack any confidence to meet women on their own or by wealthier men who like the idea of having an exotic wife. (I should note that certainly, members of the former category probably want mail order brides for the exotic appeal as well.) I also feel like society puts the thought into mens' heads that they should be heroes: we should rescue these women in some chivalrous marriage act!

I could bitch about men for a while here, but here's the bottom line: try editing it from a different perspective (it's loaded with gold in a lot of ways) or give it to me and I'll see if I have time to re-edit it.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous dana khan said...

Actually, I won't have time to edit it. But still!

(Maybe I'm just naive and have too much optimism for the girls getting mail-ordered.)

5:19 PM  
Blogger AHFB said...

I dunno, theres something to be said for the fact that these sites are based around photos and that you can search within certain ranges of height and weight.

It's one thing to be like "oh, look at that poor orphan; I'm going to adopt her" and another thing to be like "oh that poor 110 pound Russian woman; I'm going to marry her"

I think you can make parallels to how the dating world in America works, sure, and there's plenty of ways these marriages can work out, but I feel like it's--for the most part--destined to fail. They're not necessarily sex slaves, but that doesn't automatically make them happy either.

And, to be mr. doom and gloom, what happens if some sleezeball brings a wife over (anyone can seem non-sleezy on the phone or in letters), and their relationship turns out to be a really abusive one. What can the woman do? She doesn't have anywhere or anyone to escape to.

Here's a russian mail order website. Tool around it for a while and see what you think.

There's also a documentary called Mail Order Wife that someone made. There's a trailer on the site.

As for the whole "sex slave" thing, I feel whats probably more common is what's shown in this trailer: someone expected to do work as a housewife of sorts.

I don't really have a whole lot of authority on how these things work out: perhaps one of our other readers does.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a feminist, i wasn't scared away, and i think this is my favorite post ever. this is indeed a ridiculous paper, and your comments make it SO much funnier. the cartoon at the bottom of pg. 1 is a classic. this girl starts her argument completely misunderstanding the nature of the "business." i also love the completely random ANTM reference.

p.s. Law & Order: SVU has done an episode about mail-order brides from Russia being used as sex slaves and/or murdered. actually, maybe 2 episodes. and a few about foreign au pairs. not to say that they're 100% accurate, but i think they give you a pretty good idea about what can happen.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

the linguist is once again compelled to comment...even if you don't like the opening phrase (for whatever reason, and i could certainly be convinced of a few), it is NOT in any way syntactically odd. "[NP] is an issue..." is syntactically well-formed. e.g.:

[NP Crime] is an issue.
[NP Exposure to secondhand smoke] is an issue
[NP Impending nuclear war] is an issue

7:40 PM  
Blogger AHFB said...

I'll transfer all my correctness for that comment to your account, Ed.

But yeah, like you say, there's still plenty wrong w/ it. :)

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

Maybe "OMG I'm gonna write about Top Model" is the new "OMG I'm gonna write about Sex and the City?"

8:30 PM  
Anonymous dana khan said...

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Law and Order has also done plenty of shows based on child molestation cases. This does not imply that all children are molested or that they are probably going to be.

2. Documentary, eh? Or a film "all shot in documentary format to give a sense of reality to this hilariously sad and sordid tale"? :) But I see your point.

3. I definitely think there's a lot of potential for abuse, and I'll be damned if I'll deny it happens. I just wonder how the statistics compare to those of, oh, say, the regular "good" American household where people chose their spouse. I mean, our divorce rate is pretty damn high.

4. These women are not dumb, and you can't base an argument that they are on the fact that they are appearing in a catalogue, thinking they'll get a magical life by coming in America.
Plenty of men and women run away from abusive people regardless of whether they have somewhere to turn, and a mail order bride can do it too. While I agree that Russians and Ukrainians probably don't specifics on women's shelters and the like, they're already running away from a crap life (in a sense) by doing the mail order thing.
Domestic abuse =/= limited to women bought online.

5. There are CRAPLOADS of laws passed for mail-order brides. While you can get around them if you try really hard, there are licenses/legal processes/etc. that go on. Women are informed of the protection they have under the law in case of battery and domestic abuse. In fact, our current president signed into law an act that requires all people buying a bride to fill out a questionaire and have it sent over, as well as a full legal record, to the bride, in her native language.

6. I'm going to bed that 90+% of the men (and 30+% of the women) reading this have looked at/watched porn. Maybe it takes one to know one, but with pornography, very little profit goes to women at all. (A notable exception is Playboy, where a lot of the profit goes to Hugh Hefner's daughter.) In doing such, you are purchasing women specifically as sexual objects. Degrees of magnitude in difference? Most feminists I know say "no."

7. Statistically, these marriages are more likely to not end in divorce than the average American marriage. 20% divorce rate or summat.

8. I really don't mean to sound like I want to tear any of you a new one! Sorry. I know it's coming out that way.

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you don't spell sleaze correctly.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Joel said...

A better documentary on the "slave" aspect would be "Human Trafficking"

I'd be interested to look at the "efficacy" of mail-order brides vs. arranged marriages. Everyone here is assuming these mail-order marriages are miserable in the end, but they seem kinda similar to arranged marriages, which sometimes work out (though sending_kids_to_college_then_divorce != successful_marriage, I know).

12:16 PM  
Blogger heidi said...

I'm just going to put out there that Mail Order Brides =/= pornography.

I heart pornography. Lots of women do. Not only men profit from pornography, not only women are 'exploited' by pornography. Not all porn is good, or gender equal, but there's also a large market for better, more mutually orgasmic for-women-by-women porn, which some ladies are starting to take up (thank goodness).

Sorry, every time I hear feminism equated with an anti-porn stance, my toes curl a little.

2:30 PM  
Blogger whit said...

omg the comics on this are great.

as to the content:
CSI did a few episodes on this too, but that doesn't mean that ALL mail order brides are caught in that kind of awful treatment. and really, its illegal and most of the people who want a mail order bride are probably just lonely not psycho axe murderers, so most of those women should be fairly safe.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous dana khan said...

"Sorry, every time I hear feminism equated with an anti-porn stance, my toes curl a little."

In an orgasmic way? Heh heh heh (smarmy face).

(I'm not a feminist, by the way. I couldn't care less about pornography so long as the women are in it by choice.)

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha, I'm in this class right now and this documentary was about these skeezy old Canadian guys who ordered women from the Philippines and promised them wonderful lives. The women got to this tiny podunk town literally in the middle of nowhere and then were isolated from everyone else who lived there. The one guy started beating his wife too and she ended up divorcing him.

I'm not quite sure how this person says that the video shows the benefits of the mail order bride process. Isolation and beatings: "the lighter side of the arrangement"?? haha what an idiot...

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, as Dana Khan said, "Mail Order Wife" is not a documentary. I mean, I guess it's best if you watch it thinking it's a documentary - kind of like "The Blair Witch Project." : )

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Dallas4147 said...

Let me jump in here since there is a lot of miss-information.

First the term mail order bride is totally wrong. It is a left over term from when the west was settled. International Dating has little to do with the mails and a lot to do with a womens choices.

Second, the idea that all these women are trying to escape their country and will cling to any American man is a fantasy. The reality is that there is 1.5 million more women than men in the marrying age in their country. These women are raised to place a lot of value on family. To fullfill that dream/value they must look outside their country for spouses.

Third, just because an American shows up doesn't mean the girl is going to cling to your pants leg and beg you to take her to America. Most would prefer to marry a Western European because they would be closer to their homeland.
(I'm married to a Ukraine lady and got turned down plenty of times by Ukraine women prior to meeting my wife and I'm a top wage earner with a GQ look.).

Fourth, the Marriage Broker Act requires that prior to a immigration interview with a women wanting to immigrate (as a fiance of an American citizen) that both the man and woman undergo a criminal background check. The mans arrest for a number of crimes including charges of family violence can disqualify the petition for immigration.

In addition, the counsulate explains domestic violence and what to do and how to report it to the lady at the time of her consulate interview. She is given hot line numbers and told how to use them.

Fifth, although I'm sure there is some human traffic-ing that takes place there is also scams that take place. It is like everything in life you have to beaware and avoid both.

For me I avoided the scammers by using a USA based marriage broker ( ) who provided curent pictures and a copy of the ladies passport. (At one point they even had the lady hold a sign with my name on it and a newspaper to prove the validity of the lady. As it turned out my own paranoi (by reading these crazy blogs by people that have never travelled outside of the country) was not well placed. But I'm glad I had a marriage broker to look out for me.).

Sixth, it is true that marriage to foreign women (mail order brides) have a 20% divorce rate while American women have a 52% divorce rate.

Seventh, a couple that date and marry by meeting on the Internet is no more likely to fail in their marriage than the couple that meet at the local bar. Marriages succeed based on the committment of the people involved.

2:05 AM  

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