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Through decades of advertising, the phrase “mail order bride” has developed into a meme. Most memes are harmless and in reality facilitate more colorful communication. Some common examples are “shop ’til you drop”, or “clean as being a whistle”, or “talk the talk and walk the walk”, and one more, uh, oh yes, “senior moment.” However the term “mail order bride” carries connotations from a hundred years ago which can be will no longer true and which render usage of the term harmful in today’s world. Discontinued use of the term will result in much happier intercultural marriages via a resetting of expectations.

But the term is widely used including use 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 sort of women available from 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 well known fact that about 100 years ago there actually were, 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 become joined in marriage to Japanese and Korean labor men who had previously been imported to Hawaii and California during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The photo bride phenomenon died out as a result of modifications in U.S. immigration laws in 1924. Nevertheless the legacy of bridal catalogs lived on. As well as the target market 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 for being meek, submissive, obedient, and sexually compliant, who, incidentally, had great family values.

How this came into existence descriptive of Asian women is actually a mystery. Possibly it was an idea 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 likely that the two factors together with the Japanese geisha girl mystique led 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 include slick color graphics and were mass marketed, on newsstands, by paid subscription, and eventually on the Internet.

Thus there exists a stereotypical description in conjunction with the organization type of mail order, and the outcome is “Mail Order Bride”, a mechanism through which a male could browse a catalog and select a female who appeals to him. He could supposedly “buy” her and 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 combines a flawed view of women using a real business model. Bride catalogs are helpful vehicles for people to use for connecting with potential mates. There are many hundreds of them available, both on the internet and in printed form. And mail order is actually a useful, respectable business model. However, there is no such thing being a “mail order bride.” You can’t purchase a women with the mail. Period.

One other change in the bride catalogs that has occurred is that they are increasingly multicultural. Yes you can still find many Asian women inside the catalogs. But there are also many Latinas. Along with the breakup of the Soviet Union, there are many women of Russian heritage. As these women are in a catalog, all of them get the same derogatory “mail order bride” label slapped upon them.

Actually, it’s becoming almost chic to utilize the term. You can find no less than three seriously intentioned Internet articles that referred to the English women brought 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 will be nice when the commercial interests did their part and quit pushing a 100 year old social poison as a coveted antidote for loneliness.

The phrase “mail order bride” includes a sad history due to factors involved in its origin. Thankfully the circumstances which cause its creation no longer exist. But what does yet exist is promotion in the term for commercial purposes. This results in its application in totally inappropriate ways with resultant social harm. It creates resentment and a feeling of aykchm for foreign women. In addition it improves the difficulty of marital adjustment for intercultural marriages as a result of false expectations going to the marriage.

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 considered a commodity to be bought like a prostitute. And there is absolutely no faster way to discover the “Russian bear” rather than connect with a Russian woman as if she is bought and bought, or by expecting her to become meek or submissive.

False expectations strongly contribute to discord in every relationship. There are more than enough hurdles to operate through in constructing a successful intercultural marriage. Adding to them expectations of behavior based upon a demeaning stereotype is a recipe for disaster.

In case a man will accept his foreign bride for who she really is rather than just what the man wants her to get based on what he’s “heard”, then intercultural marriage can truly be joyous. It’s your decision, men. If you are over a quest for a foreign bride, ignore the “mail order bride” stuff. It’s a loaded term and definately will set you up for failure. Rather, stretch to have an enlightened perspective and never label the women in the catalogs at all. Make reference to them instead as “women looking for husbands.” This makes it easier and a lot more fun to get the one you’re searching for; and when she marries you, your life together is going to be much more fulfilling.

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