I was really curious about the phenomenon of mail order brides, so I looked up sites where you can actually order these women. I found a site called balticladies.com, and read the first paragraph, which basically sums up exactly what we were talking about in class. It reads, “These foreign girls belong to different Asian nations like Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, some of the countries of former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and certain places from Latin America. These mail order brides are usually characterized by stunning beauty and good education with high cultural value. Moreover, the mail order brides had a conventional up bringing. It infuses in them a great regard for the auspicious union of marriage and family. Hence, it’s little wonder that the fantastic mail order brides are a coveted choice in the matrimonial arena.” The key words here are “high cultural value” and “conventional upbringing.” I find this interesting because most of the societies that these women come from are extremely patriarchal societies, and these people are making it seem like they are just like everyone in the United States and have the same values that we have. (Apparently, however, this is the reason for them wanting to come to America – to gain equality like the men of their countries, I suppose.) For example, the site goes on to say, “Some people mistake them as mere commodities that they can simply ship off to their countries and own as a personal property. But that’s utterly wrong and all mail order brides are simple girls like your sisters or next door neighbors. They all are in quest of a committed alliance with foreign men much like you are in search of a true love amidst the foreign damsels.” But isn’t conventional gender roles, or basically gender inequality, what the men who order these women want?
I find this explanation of the mail order brides somewhat false for that reason. Like we discussed in class, the women’s foreignness is what gives them the conventional gender roles that these men want. By “conventional gender roles” they mean that they want a woman who cooks and cleans and stays quiet. I think they try to justify the process of mail order brides by saying that the women want equality and to be treated with respect because they will not be in their own countries. But, they get here and the men treat them the same as if they had stayed.
I think this is where Honig makes the case that the women could also be a threat to our society. This could be because they just want to come over to the United States in order to gain freedom from their country and a free pass into ours. This question of whether or not they are helping us is the very question of national ambivalence that we talked about in class.
I find this quite interesting because the debate of the good foreigner versus the bad immigrant is so relevant in our society today. The debate has been continuous for several years and is one of the biggest elements of debate in the up coming elections. Personally, I am prone to think that most of the immigrants coming to the United States are the “good” kind because they come here seeking jobs and opportunities, and aren’t intending to threaten anyone else’s jobs by taking some. The jobs that they take are sometimes the jobs that no one else is willing to do (I’ve only ever stayed at one hotel where the maid was white) and are doing these jobs for much less than some Americans would work for, which is good for the failing economy. I don’t mean to bring up a controversial argument for the sake of arguing, I just think that maybe we should focus on some other topic that might be a little more serious in securing our nation and our democracy from collapsing.