One of the most curious questions about the mail order bride industry is why Western feminists hate the practice so much? At first it seems odd that feminists are so opposed to the practice, because the industry is being driven by hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of women from countries around the world who are trying to take control of their destiny and seek a better life for themselves.
But feminists, particularly women’s studies professors, see it differently. They lump Western men looking for a bride overseas into the same category as pimps, white slavers, rapists, serial killers, and mafia dons. Given there have been tens of thousands of happy marriages between Western men and women from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
The testimony of Professor Donna Hughes of the University of Rhode Island before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs is a great example of this sort of thinking.
Professor Hughes considers the mail order bride phenomena as a form of human trafficking, but in the very first paragraph of her testimony she admits that, “some women may find the romance and opportunities they seek.” What she doesn’t say is that far, far more women find happiness and fulfillment or at least a better life as a mail order bride than the relatively small number of women who fall into prostitution, sexual slavery, or worse. In fact, Professor Hughes gives the impression that the reverse is true, that only a tiny handful of women find a better life, and that the majority of women who sign up as mail order brides end up in awful situations.
She knows this isn’t true, because her own research has shown it is not true. Professor Hughes actually traveled to the Ukraine and interviewed hundreds of young women about what they thought of the mail order bride industry. She found that the vast majority had a positive opinion of the mail order bride industry. In fact, in Yalta 97% of the young women she interviewed looked favorably on the mail order bride industry.
Professor Hughes looks down her nose at the poor confused Ukrainian women too ignorant to know what is best for themselves. It is incredibly paternalistic and reeks of the ugly American, exactly the sort of attitude that feminist professors in good standing spend their careers fighting. The irony is incredible. Professor Hughes clucks and suggests better education for the women about the risks, but she doesn’t really stop and ask why so many Ukrainian women have a positive attitude about international dating.
She did her research a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the modern mail order bride industry and what she doesn’t realize is that the reason that these women have such a positive view is because so many of their aunts, cousins, friends, and neighbors have had a great experience.
If the experience of the average mail order Ukrainian bride was not significantly better than the life of most single Ukrainian women you can bet that it would not be such a popular option. That is a fact, these women are not stupid. They understand the situation and are making a rational choice to improve their lives.
Professor Hughes and her ilk mean well, but they are so blinded by their own ideology that they can’t imagine that all in all the modern mail order bride movement has been a positive development for men and women around the world. Trafficking in women is a serious problem and should be prosecuted, but whether women are lured into the business with promises of jobs, money, or simply kidnapped it is always illegal. It should not prevent millions of men and women from looking for love through mail order bride agencies.
You can find Professor Hughes’ full testimony, and a bunch of other scholarly research papers and government reports on International dating in our Academic Research Archives.