Through decades of advertising, the word “mail order bride” has developed into a meme. Most memes are harmless and in fact 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 are no longer true and which render usage of the word harmful in today’s world. Discontinued use of the term will lead to much happier intercultural marriages via a resetting of expectations.
Nevertheless the term is popular including application of its negative connotations; the main one being the idea of buying a woman from the catalog. Further, there are implications, derived from its original application to Asian women, that define the kind of women offered by a catalog.
Even though term had not been invented on the Internet, “mail order brides” has definitely found traction as a useful and profitable term. It’s a fact that about a century 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 be joined in marriage to Japanese and Korean labor men who had previously been imported to Hawaii and California throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The image bride phenomenon died out because of modifications in U.S. immigration laws in 1924. However the legacy of bridal catalogs lived on. And also the potential audience 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, by the way, had great family values.
How this came into existence descriptive of Asian women is really a mystery. Possibly it was a concept brought back by Marco Polo on his return from his epic journey to the Orient. Or maybe it’s connected to the Chinese practice of foot binding women. It’s also probable that those two factors together with the Japanese geisha girl mystique contributed to formation of 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 in the end on the Internet.
Thus there exists a stereotypical description along with the organization type of mail order, and the outcome is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism whereby a male could browse a catalog and choose a lady who attracts 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 given that mixes a flawed look at women having a real business design. Bride catalogs are useful vehicles for individuals to use for connecting with potential mates. There are many numerous 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 being a “mail order bride.” You can’t get a women from the mail. Period.
An additional change in the bride catalogs which includes occurred is they are actually increasingly multicultural. Yes there are still many Asian women in the catalogs. But there are also many Latinas. Along with the breakup in the Soviet Union, there are lots of women of Russian heritage. Because these women are in a catalog, all of them obtain the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped upon them.
In reality, it’s becoming almost chic to utilize the word. You can find a minimum of three seriously intentioned Internet articles that known as the English women delivered to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 as “mail order brides.” Perhaps these casual kinds of usage really 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 term “mail order bride” includes a sad history because of factors involved with its origin. Thankfully the conditions which lead to its creation will no longer exist. But what does yet exist is promotion of the term for commercial purposes. This results in its application in totally inappropriate ways with resultant social harm. It generates resentment and feelings of aykchm for foreign women. Furthermore it improves the issue of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages because of false expectations entering the relationship.
Foreign women know of this term. But in most cases, because of language challenges and cultural differences, they know of this 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 not any faster way to learn about the “Russian bear” rather than to connect with a Russian woman as if she actually is bought and purchased, or by expecting her to get meek or submissive.
False expectations strongly contribute to discord in almost any relationship. There are other than enough hurdles to work through in constructing a successful intercultural marriage. Increasing them expectations of behavior based on a demeaning stereotype is a recipe for disaster.
In case a man will accept his foreign bride for who she is really instead of exactly what the man wants her to be according to what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your choice, men. If you are over a pursuit of an overseas bride, forget about the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and can set you up for failure. Rather, stretch to have an enlightened perspective and never label the ladies in the catalogs at all. Reference them instead as “women looking for husbands.” This makes it easier and much more fun to get the one you’re looking for; so when she marries you, your daily life together will be a lot more fulfilling.