Photo Credit: David Lazar. A girl in waiting.
by Preyanka S. Chowdhury
I am a citizen of the third world, a member of a nation where men reign supreme and women considered a shadow behind them. I am a woman. I am inferior to man and destined to stay at home, raise children and care for my husband. He is the center of my world after all, and his command is my calling.
This is the life of millions of women in under-developed countries. Denied opportunities and suppressed. Unable to seek self-development and barred from any form of free thinking. But why is it only in the under-developed nations that we see this over-bearing intensity of the patriarchal society? While a woman in the first world seeks equal rights, her counterpart in Bangladesh, seeks the permission of her father or husband to allow her to participate in society. Continue reading
The commercialized romance tour industry provides American men interested in meeting a foreign bride with the network and connections to make this ‘dream’ a reality. American men involved in this industry desire a foreign woman who possesses traits associated with white femininity from the 1950’s. The image of this femininity is captured in the television character of June Cleaver, as she exemplifies the stereotype of 1950’s suburban, middle-class femininity. Her work is the work of the home, and she is always dressed in a feminine manner, cooking dinner in her pearls and high heels. White, middle class women are no longer at the top of the desire hierarchy for a certain section of American men, since they are no longer feminine enough and have become too ‘masculinized’ by feminist ideas of gender equality. These men are seeking women that still possess the stereotypical 1950’s idealized ‘traditional’ white, middle class femininity, and the emotional labor ‘good’ wives provided men back then (beyond just housework). These American men construct foreign women from certain geographic regions (Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia) as ‘exotic’ women that still possess this nostalgic vision of 1950’s femininity that they desire. Latin American, as well Eastern European and Southeast Asian women, are naturalized in the romance tour market as having the proper cultural grooming that has made them more traditional, feminine, docile and better mothers (Schaeffer-Grabiel 2006).
Source: Paul Bird Uploaded by MyCanon (Brad Pitt) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
The ‘mail order bride’ industry serves American men who are interested in finding foreign wives. International introduction agencies combine internet dating with romantic tours to foreign locales that introduce men to a number of women at a time. Many women in Ukraine, Colombia and the Philippines define desirable masculinities in terms of whiteness, transnational mobility and financial stability. Jessie, a romance tour interpreter in Colombia, explains this desire, “Most of them want a white man. Like I would say all the girls want a Brad Pitt. That’s not going to happen.” Jessie argues that most women in Colombia desire ‘Brad Pitt’, which is essentially code for a tall, white man with blue eyes and blonde hair. Brad Pitt is also relatively young, considered to be good looking and is obviously a member of the transnationally mobile elite (this is not the case for most of the American male tour participants, who tend to be older, etc.).