Thursday, August 27, 2015
You know about the women who are called mail-order brides, right? From the point of view of, say, American men who seek such a wife the market is for foreign women who seem to be viewed as more biddable, more willing to cook and clean, more willing to accept male leadership in the marriage and more exotic than homegrown women. Some of the MRA sites, for instance, advocate that men should order their wives from abroad so as to guarantee that feminism hasn't corrupted them yet.*
But the market for mail-order brides is only one way to look at what's happening. That's because the market tries to match women to men, on the basis of various characteristics, and so the market could equally well be called one for mail-order husbands. After all, the women who advertise their availability for marriage are looking for a mail-order husband.
Why, then, the focus on brides in this market? Is it because the men participating are wealthier and more powerful? Or is it because of our cultural conditioning? Think of "wife-swapping," for instance. When wives are swapped, so are the husbands, but somehow the cultural clutter makes that harder to notice.
Reversals of this kind can be incredibly useful. When we think of "mail-order husbands" we then start asking what the women in that marketplace want to buy. What kind of a husband? For what reason?
And then, almost unavoidably, we start asking whether the desires of the women and men in this market actually match, whether participating in this market is equally unconstrained for both sides, or whether at least some women might be in the market because of the direst economic necessity.
*I don't intend to paint all men as MRAs or all men who have married foreign women as thinking in the above terms What that paragraph reflects is a common meme among the so-called manosphere, however, and it's useful to spell it out.