Through decades of advertising, the phrase “mail order bride” has become 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.” But the term “mail order bride” carries connotations from a century ago which can be no more true and which render usage of the word harmful in today’s world. Discontinued use of the term will result in much happier intercultural marriages through a resetting of expectations.
But the term is popular including application of its negative connotations; the key one being the idea of buying a woman from the catalog. Further, there are implications, based on its original application to Asian women, that define the type of women provided by a catalog.
Even though term was not invented on the Internet, “mail order brides” has definitely found traction being a useful and profitable term. It’s an undeniable fact that about 100 years ago there actually were mail order brides, wherein a catalog of women’s biographical info and photos might be viewed, selections made, and brides purchased. These first catalogs were for “picture brides” to get joined in marriage to Japanese and Korean labor men who had been imported to Hawaii and California through the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The picture 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 audience changed from immigrant Japanese and Korean laborers to Caucasian men. The catalogs were focused mainly on Asian women nevertheless 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 maybe it’s affiliated with the Chinese practice of foot binding women. It’s also possible that those two factors combined with the Japanese geisha girl mystique contributed to formation from the description.
However this characterization of Asian women started, it “stuck” and was widely promoted in bride catalogs. The catalogs evolved over decades to incorporate slick color graphics and were mass marketed, on newsstands, by paid subscription, and in the end on the Internet.
Thus there exists a stereotypical description coupled with the company style of mail order, and also the end result is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism through which a male could browse a catalog and choose a lady who appeals to him. He could supposedly “buy” her and also have her perform her wifely duties for him according to his media created expectations.
Through the strength of advertising and mass distribution, a meme has been produced that mixes a flawed view of women having a real business design. Bride catalogs are helpful vehicles for folks to use for connecting with potential mates. There are lots of countless them available, both on the internet and in printed form. And mail order is actually a useful, respectable business structure. However, there is no such thing being a “mail order bride.” You can’t buy a women through the mail. Period.
One other change in the bride catalogs which includes happened is that they are increasingly multicultural. Yes there are still many Asian women in the catalogs. But additionally, there are many Latinas. With the breakup from the Soviet Union, there are numerous women of Russian heritage. Because these women are in a catalog, they all obtain the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped upon them.
In fact, it’s becoming almost chic to utilize the phrase. You can find at least three seriously intentioned Internet articles that referred to the English women taken to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as “mail order brides.” Perhaps these casual types of usage certainly are a natural process whereby the meme gradually loses its negative stigma. It would be nice in the event the commercial interests did their part and quit pushing a 100 year old social poison being a coveted antidote for loneliness.
The phrase “mail order bride” features a sad history because of factors involved in its origin. Thankfully instances which result in its creation no more exist. But what does yet exist is promotion from the term for commercial purposes. This leads to its application in totally inappropriate ways with resultant social harm. It produces resentment and a sense of aykchm for foreign women. Furthermore it improves the problem of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages because of false expectations going into the relationship.
Foreign women are aware of this term. But typically, due to language challenges and cultural differences, they know of this only in a literal sense. Their reaction is disgust at their being considered a commodity to become bought like a prostitute. And there is no faster way to discover the “Russian bear” than to relate with a Russian woman as if she actually is bought and paid for, or by expecting her to get meek or submissive.
False expectations strongly contribute to discord in every relationship. There are many than enough hurdles to operate through in building a successful intercultural marriage. Adding to them expectations of behavior based on a demeaning stereotype is actually a recipe for disaster.
In case a man will accept his foreign bride for who she is really instead of what the man wants her to be based on what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your decision, men. In case you are on a quest for an overseas bride, forget the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and can set you up for failure. Rather, stretch for an enlightened perspective and you should not label the ladies in the catalogs whatsoever. Refer to them instead as “women looking for husbands.” This makes it easier and more fun to get the one you’re searching for; so when she marries you, your lifestyle together is going to be far more fulfilling.