Through decades of advertising, the term “mail order bride” has turned into a meme. Most memes are harmless and in reality facilitate more colorful communication. Some common examples are “shop ’til you drop”, or “clean as a whistle”, or “talk the talk and walk the walk”, and one more, uh, oh yes, “senior moment.” Nevertheless the term “mail order bride” carries connotations from a century ago that are will no longer true and which render use of the term harmful in today’s world. Discontinued utilisation of the term will result in much happier intercultural marriages by way of a resetting of expectations.
Nevertheless the term is popular including implementation of its negative connotations; the primary one being the idea of purchasing a woman from the catalog. Further, there are implications, produced from its original application to Asian women, that define the kind of women available from a catalog.
Even though term was not invented on the Internet, “mail order brides” has definitely found traction as being a useful and profitable term. It’s a well known fact that about 100 years ago there actually were mailorderbrides.reviews, wherein a catalog of women’s biographical info and photos could be viewed, selections made, and brides purchased. These first catalogs were for “picture brides” to be joined in marriage to Japanese and Korean labor men who had been imported to Hawaii and California throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The photo bride phenomenon died out due to changes in U.S. immigration laws in 1924. However the legacy of bridal catalogs lived on. As well as the target market changed from immigrant Japanese and Korean laborers to Caucasian men. The catalogs were focused mainly on Asian women however they promoted an ages old look at Asian women as being meek, submissive, obedient, and sexually compliant, who, by the way, had great family values.
How this came to be descriptive of Asian women is actually a mystery. Possibly it was a concept brought back by Marco Polo on his return from his epic journey towards the Orient. Or possibly it’s affiliated with chinese people practice of foot binding women. It’s also possible that the two factors together with the Japanese geisha girl mystique contributed to formation in the description.
However this characterization of Asian women started, it “stuck” and was widely promoted in bride catalogs. The catalogs evolved over decades to add slick color graphics and were mass marketed, on newsstands, by paid subscription, and ultimately on the Internet.
Thus we have a stereotypical description in conjunction with the organization type of mail order, and the outcome is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism whereby a guy could browse a catalog and choose a woman who interests him. He could supposedly “buy” her and possess her perform her wifely duties for him depending on his media created expectations.
Through the power of advertising and mass distribution, a meme has been given that combines a flawed look at women using a real business model. Bride catalogs are useful vehicles for individuals to use for connecting with potential mates. There are many hundreds of them available, both on the internet and in printed form. And mail order is actually a useful, respectable business model. However, there is no such thing as being a “mail order bride.” You can’t get a women from the mail. Period.
An additional improvement in the bride catalogs which has taken place is that they are now increasingly multicultural. Yes you can still find many Asian women within the catalogs. But in addition there are many Latinas. And with the breakup of the Soviet Union, there are numerous women of Russian heritage. Because these women are in a catalog, all of them obtain the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped on them.
In fact, it’s becoming almost chic to make use of the word. There are at least three seriously intentioned Internet articles that described the English women brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as “mail order brides.” Perhaps these casual varieties of usage certainly are a natural process whereby the meme gradually loses its negative stigma. It would be nice if the commercial interests did their part and quit pushing a 100 year old social poison as being a coveted antidote for loneliness.
The phrase “mail order bride” has a sad history because of factors associated with its origin. Thankfully the conditions which cause its creation will no longer exist. But precisely what does yet exist is promotion from the term for commercial purposes. This results in its application in totally inappropriate ways with resultant social harm. It produces resentment and feelings of aykchm for foreign women. Additionally it increases the issue of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages as a result of false expectations going into the relationship.
Foreign women are conscious of this term. But in most cases, due to language challenges and cultural differences, they are fully aware of it only in a literal sense. Their reaction is disgust at their being thought of as a commodity to be bought like a prostitute. And there is not any faster way to learn about the “Russian bear” than to relate to a Russian woman as if she is bought and purchased, or by expecting her to become meek or submissive.
False expectations strongly bring about discord in any relationship. There are more than enough hurdles to operate through in constructing a successful intercultural marriage. Increasing them expectations of behavior based upon a demeaning stereotype is really a recipe for disaster.
In case a man will accept his foreign bride for who she really is as opposed to exactly what the man wants her to get based upon what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your choice, men. Should you be on the search for an international bride, forget about the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and can pave the way for failure. Rather, stretch for an enlightened perspective and never label the women within the catalogs in any way. Refer to them instead as “women searching for husbands.” This will make it easier and a lot more fun to get the one you’re looking for; and when she marries you, your life together will be much more fulfilling.