Through decades of advertising, the term “mail order bride” has developed into a meme. Most memes are harmless and actually 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 utilization of the word harmful in today’s world. Discontinued utilization of the term will lead to much happier intercultural marriages via a resetting of expectations.
Nevertheless the term is widely used including implementation of its negative connotations; the key one being the thought of buying a woman coming from a catalog. Further, you can find implications, derived from its original application to Asian women, that define the type of women provided by a catalog.
Although the term had not been invented on the Internet, “mail order brides” has definitely found traction as being a useful and profitable term. It’s an undeniable 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 become joined in marriage to Japanese and Korean labor men who had previously been imported to Hawaii and California through the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The image bride phenomenon died out because of modifications in U.S. immigration laws in 1924. Nevertheless the legacy of bridal catalogs lived on. And 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 view of Asian women to be meek, submissive, obedient, and sexually compliant, who, anyway, had great family values.
How this came into existence descriptive of Asian women is actually a mystery. Possibly it had been an understanding brought back by Marco Polo on his return from his epic journey for the Orient. Or possibly 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 led 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 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 along with the business type of mail order, and the end result is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism by which a male could browse a catalog and choose a female 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 effectiveness of advertising and mass distribution, a meme has been created that combines a flawed look at women using a real business design. Bride catalogs are useful vehicles for folks for connecting with potential mates. There are numerous countless them available, both online and in printed form. And mail order is actually a useful, respectable business model. But there is no such thing being a “mail order bride.” You can’t purchase a women from the mail. Period.
One other change in the bride catalogs that has happened is that they are increasingly multicultural. Yes you may still find many Asian women inside the catalogs. But additionally, there are many Latinas. And with the breakup of the Soviet Union, there are many women of Russian heritage. As these women are in a catalog, each of them obtain the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped on them.
In fact, it’s becoming almost chic to use the phrase. You will find no less than three seriously intentioned Internet articles that described the English women taken to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as “mail order brides.” Perhaps these casual kinds of usage certainly are a natural process whereby the meme gradually loses its negative stigma. It would be nice when the commercial interests did their part and quit pushing a 100 years old social poison as being a coveted antidote for loneliness.
The term “mail order bride” features a sad history due to factors involved in its origin. Thankfully the conditions which lead to its creation no more exist. But precisely 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 generates resentment and feelings of aykchm for foreign women. Additionally it improves the problem of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages due to false expectations going to the relationship.
Foreign women are aware of this term. But for the most part, due to language challenges and cultural differences, they know of it only in a literal sense. Their reaction is disgust at their being thought of as a commodity to become bought such as a prostitute. And there is absolutely no faster way to discover the “Russian bear” rather than relate with a Russian woman just as if she actually is bought and paid for, or by expecting her to get meek or submissive.
False expectations strongly bring about discord in every relationship. There are other than enough hurdles to work through in creating a successful intercultural marriage. Contributing to them expectations of behavior according to a demeaning stereotype is a recipe for disaster.
In case a man will accept his foreign bride for who she really is rather than what the man wants her to become according to what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your decision, men. Should you be over a quest for a foreign bride, forget the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and will set you up for failure. Rather, stretch for an enlightened perspective and you should not label the women within the catalogs at all. Reference them instead as “women looking for husbands.” This will make it easier and a lot more fun to obtain the one you’re searching for; and once she marries you, your life together will be much more fulfilling.