Mail-Order Brides: Love, or a Market of Lust?

“Sign up now for only $29.99/month for premium service and faster shipping!” is what most online shopping websites tend to promote whenever we browse their collections. What if you read this same statement in an “online dating” site?

Contemporary dating continues to evolve – now to the point where a heterosexual man can essentially purchase a woman online. These women are known as “mail-order brides.”

To understand these dating sites, let’s break down the commitments of a mail-order bride:

  1. They create a profile including personal information and professionally taken photos of themselves (often times, in very provocative forms). Examples of these sites include rosebrides.com, loveme.com, amongst others.
  2. The dating site notifies them when a western man has taken an interest in them and connects her to the man online. Other sites create “marriage tours” which pretty much translates to a gala of 100 women and 10 men. Marriage tours sort of work as speed dating, except the men rotate between tables of 10-15 women instead of conversing on a personal level with all the women room.
  3. In order for them to ‘woo’ a man, mail order brides are encouraged by the website managers to essentially compete with the other women to find their ‘true love’ because the galas take place every few months.
  4. Finally, if a woman fails, she is to correct the attributes that made her undesirable to the American men. If she succeeds, she is given the opportunity to continue speaking with him. 

A typical mail-order bride comes from a developing, third-world country, doesn’t speak or speaks very little English, is young and physically attractive, and believes a white, American man to be the most desirable both sexually and romantically. However, the most popular mail-order brides come from Colombia, Ukraine, and Russia. Although many factors contribute to a woman’s decision to join these sites (escaping poverty, for example), most of these women agree that American men are faithful and appreciative of women – unlike the men from their native country.

Unfortunately, many of the men who engage in these dating sites believe the women to be traditional subordinate wives who provide sex, food, and cleanliness. Arthur, a 67 year old man who has travelled to the Ukraine over 6 times, states,

“It’s like purchasing a very nice used Cadillac. I need to drive it before I make a decision about taking it home and putting it in my garage.”

Ugh.

Not to say that all men are like Arthur, in fact, some men might actually be looking for love.

However, despite the arguably happy marriages these sites create, no good can outweigh the perpetuation of marketing women as sexual characters in a world of misogyny – a world in which women are displayed as subordinate objects; a world in which they must compete with each other for love.

Not only do these sites promote further degradation of women, they also sell an old colonial ideology one might remember from the 19th and 20th century – the utilization of ignominy of colored people for the purpose of promoting white superiority. These sites actively endorse a culture dominated by white men. Although most of these services don’t provide demographics about their male site users, a look at their tour photos indicate that from a group of approximately 10 men who go on the marriage tours, only one is black.

Sponsoring the ideal white man to countries that already demean people of darker shades further desensitizes the generation creating the future of race in America.

In essence, mail-order brides are the modern-day sex slaves of the 21st century – unable to effectively communicate, often times, forcibly entering dating sites because of their parents, and driven by a skewed sense that white western men are the most eligible bachelors.

At this pace, racism will remain normative, sexism will remain vibrant, and misogyny will continue to pulse through the roots of what should be a progressive nation.

It’s important for us to acknowledge that these characteristics exist in every component of society, whether it be in a setting as small as a high school classroom or as big as the galas mail-order bride sites host every year. If we truly want to end a society that institutionalizes heterosexism and racial normativity, we must attack every component of the social order that stimulates inequality within a growingly progressive community.

 

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