Through decades of advertising, the word “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 100 years ago which can be will no longer true and which render usage of the term harmful in today’s world. Discontinued utilization of the term will lead to much happier intercultural marriages by way of a resetting of expectations.
But the term is widely used including use of its negative connotations; the main one being the thought of buying a woman coming from a catalog. Further, there are implications, produced from its original application to Asian women, that define the type of women provided by a catalog.
Even though the term had not been invented on the Internet, “mail order brides” has definitely found traction being a useful and profitable term. It’s a fact that about a hundred years ago there actually were mail order brides, wherein a catalog of women’s biographical info and photos may 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 during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The image bride phenomenon died out as a result of modifications in U.S. immigration laws in 1924. However the legacy of bridal catalogs lived on. And also the target market changed from immigrant Japanese and Korean laborers to Caucasian men. The catalogs were focused mainly on Asian women but they promoted an ages old view of Asian women to be meek, submissive, obedient, and sexually compliant, who, incidentally, had great family values.
How this came to be descriptive of Asian women is really a mystery. Possibly it was an understanding brought back by Marco Polo on his return from his epic journey towards the Orient. Or perhaps it’s connected to chinese people practice of foot binding women. It’s also probable that the two factors combined with 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 add slick color graphics and were mass marketed, on newsstands, by paid subscription, and eventually on the Internet.
Thus we have a stereotypical description in conjunction with the business style of mail order, and the outcome is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism by which a guy could browse a catalog and select a woman who interests him. He could supposedly “buy” her and possess her perform her wifely duties for him according to his media created expectations.
Through the power of advertising and mass distribution, a meme has been produced that mixes a flawed view of women using a real business design. Bride catalogs are of help vehicles for individuals to use for connecting with potential mates. There are lots of hundreds of them available, both on the web and in printed form. And mail order is really a useful, respectable business design. But there is no such thing as a “mail order bride.” You can’t get a women with the mail. Period.
Another alternation in the bride catalogs which has taken place is because they are now increasingly multicultural. Yes you can still find many Asian women in the catalogs. But there are also many Latinas. And with the breakup of the Soviet Union, there are numerous women of Russian heritage. Since these women are in a catalog, they all obtain the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped to them.
Actually, it’s becoming almost chic to use the word. There are at least three seriously intentioned Internet articles that known as the English women delivered 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 might be nice if the commercial interests did their part and quit pushing a 100 years old social poison as being a coveted antidote for loneliness.
The phrase “mail order bride” has a sad history because of factors involved with its origin. Thankfully instances which result in its creation no longer exist. But exactly 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 feelings of aykchm for foreign women. Additionally it improves the problem of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages due to false expectations going into the marriage.
Foreign women are conscious of this term. But in most cases, due to language challenges and cultural differences, they know of it only in a literal sense. Their reaction is disgust at their being viewed as a commodity to be bought just like a prostitute. And there is no faster way to discover the “Russian bear” rather than connect with a Russian woman as though she is bought and bought, or by expecting her to get meek or submissive.
False expectations strongly play a role in discord in almost any relationship. There are many than enough hurdles to function through in constructing a successful intercultural marriage. Adding to them expectations of behavior based on a demeaning stereotype is really a recipe for disaster.
If a man will accept his foreign bride for who she actually is rather than exactly what the man wants her to be according to what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your selection, men. If you are over a quest for an overseas bride, forget the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and can pave the way for failure. Rather, stretch to have an enlightened perspective and never label the women in the catalogs at all. Reference them instead as “women searching for husbands.” This will make it easier and a lot more fun to find the one you’re searching for; and when she marries you, your lifestyle together is going to be a lot more fulfilling.