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Scholarly Research About International Dating & Mail Order Brides

If you really want to be fully informed about international dating this is the place to start. This page contains academic research and government reports on mail order brides, international dating, and related subjects.

The amount of disinformation out there about the modern mail order bride industry is stunning, because many angry feminist studies professors and well-meaning humanitarians have taken the term "mail order bride" literally and assume that men in the United States and other Western countries are ordering sex slaves off the Internet and that is just NOT what's happening.

Yes, there are Men Who Should Not Pursue a Foreign Bride, but those guys do not need to be pursuing a relationship with any woman until they get their life in order. We do not condone human trafficking, prostitution, child marriage, or spousal abuse, but those issues are not at all connected to legitimate international dating. Those are deep cultural problems that existed long before the modern mail order bride industry started.  

Of course, the professors know that, but they are incensed about the supposed "power imbalance" in the relationship and the "neo-colonial monetization of women in economically underdeveloped countries." Generally, the negative reviews are by academics more wedded to their theories than to the actual facts.

Most of them self-identify as feminists, but they refuse to acknowledge that for many women around the world international dating offers them a chance to greatly improve the lot of their lives and the lives of their children.   Generally, they simply demonize the men.

The feminists know that the mail order bride agencies are almost identical to mainstream Internet dating sites like Match.com. They know that the international dating agencies reviewed on International Love Scout are legitimate businesses, but they also know that it is easy to attract publicity to help fight the kidnapping and trafficking of women that goes on around the world by tying it to the term mail order brides.

So, on this page we have assembled the BEST academic and government research available focusing on researchers who have actually taken the time to speak to the men and women who are using international dating to find their life mate and are not just theorizing.

That is the bias here. These are all articles based on interviews with actual women signed up as mail order brides. They tend to be younger scholars who are willing to admit that the actual relationships that result from international dating are more important than academic theories.

Though at ILS we believe that international dating can be great for both men and women we also know that there are pitfalls for both sexes and we are going to use this page to highlight the most authoritative sources of information.  

I gotta warn ya, alot of this stuff is pretty dry and boring. It is mostly peer reviewed academic writing, but we feel it's important to give you ALL the available information. So, if you have some spare time and a pot full of real strong coffee then go ahead and read the dissertations and papers. Decide for yourself if pursuing a beautiful young woman from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa or Asia is the best way for you to find the happiness you are looking for. 

Academic Articles on International Dating

Marriage, Migration, and Markets: International Matchmaking and International Feminism

by Lisa Simmons (2001)

One of the first and best examinations of the mail order industry Simmons began her research assuming that, “…the women are mainly victims of unscrupulous marriage brokers and/or husbands.”

Then she actually began talking to women who had married men through international dating agencies. At the time actually talking to women was almost revolutionary. Most of the critics of the mail order bride industry never talked to the actual mail order brides.

She found that the women were active participants in the process and generally understood the pros and cons of international dating.

She wrote…

I have shown that bride migration is often undertaken by women who, despite their lack of self-identification as feminists, actually embody feminist values of desire for greater gender equity.

Eventually she concluded that…

My data offer preliminary evidence that the international matchmaking industry can be seen as a positive force in the context of shifting gender relations within and between the countries involved.

Human Trafficking: Mail-Order Bride Abuses - Hughes Testimony to US Senate July 2004

This is PDF file that records the testimony of Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D. Professor and Carlson Endowed Chair of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island - given to the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 13, 2004.

She reached a whole series of negative conclusions about the mail order bride industry despite the fact that the women she actually interviewed expressed a completely different opinion.

Professor Hughes wrote that...

Interviews with 160 young women from Southern oblasts of Ukraine, where there was high recruitment by marriage agencies, found that two thirds of them wanted to go abroad.

She even met a woman whose mother was urging her to sign up for an agency, but despite what the she was told by the women signing up with international dating agencies Professor Hughes stuck firmly to her preconceived notion that the mail order bride industry is horrible.

It is an odd read, but it is a good example of the extreme feminist bias that some academics express towards the mail order bride industry. If you want to read more on the topic of bias check out our article, Why Do Feminists Hate Mail Order Brides?

The Filipina-South Floridian International Internet Marriage Practice: Agency, Culture, and Paradox

by Pamela S. Haley (2013)

Pamela S. Haley examined the marriages that resulted from international dating among a group of Filipinas and their American husbands in Florida. She explains her research by noting that, Popular media, legal scholars, and some feminists have largely described the phenomenon, of international dating as an oppressive system where women have little control or agency over the process.

She also looked at their husbands’ who are often described as, ...ogres who are out to exploit these women for domestic and sexual services

She discovered that these popular views were largely incorrect. She found that the brides did have enormous control over the process and, further, explained that My findings also reject the stereotype of the exploitative husband.

One of the most interesting thing about Haley’s work is that she obviously was surprised by the positive results. She writes that...

An unanticipated and paradoxical outcropping of the interviews was the participants' descriptions of their courtship and subsequent marriages. In this one area both the brides and grooms unanimously deemphasized their own agency, and instead highlighted romantic narratives with each insisting that they had "fallen in love.

Here is a shorter version of her early research, The Filipina-South Floridian International Internet Marriage Practice.

Mail Order Feminism

by Marica Zug (2014)

This 2014 article appeared in the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. Like many of the younger generation of feminists academics Zug looked more closely at the actual experience of women involved in international dating, not just at the academic theories underlying many of the feminist’s criticisms of the mail order bride industry.

Zug’s conclusions are incredibly positive and that mail order marriages appear to be much more successful than one would expect. She writes that…

...a lawyer who specializes in fiancée visas noted that in eight years, she had seen 600 mail order marriages and twenty-one divorces. In addition, at least one study claims the success rates for mail order marriages is eighty percent after five years, which, if accurate, would be a much better success rate than the fifty percent rate for American marriages in general.

And she concludes that...

…it is time to stop demonizing these unions and recognize their potential benefits. Mail order marriages provide options to men and women who find their domestic marriage opportunities limited and disempowering. These marriages give participants a way of reasserting control and finding a fulfilling, if unconventional, route to marriage.

It is really a very, positive view of international dating.

Zug also wrote an excellent history of mail order brides during the colonial period, Lonely Colonist Seeks Wife: The Forgotten History of America’s First Mail Order Brides.

It is really worth a read if you are interested in the early history of mail order brides in the United States and Canada.                

90-Day Fiancé and the Shaming of 'Mail Order Brides'

by Julia Meszaros (2014)

Julie Meszaros is one of the new young professors who actually take a look at the women and men signing up with international dating sites and observe the relationships as they develop. She has visited Colombia, the Philippines, and Ukraine for her research and seen the dating process up close.

She writes...

I can tell you firsthand that none of the women I interviewed in my two years observing romance tours are forced to participate in this industry, and there is definitely no 'price' on any of the women.

This is exactly what we discussed in our article on the Myths About International Dating.

Meszaros goes on and explains that...

Far from being victims, the women I spoke to in all three countries have strong preferences and opinions regarding the types of American men they desire to meet through the agency. These women are often educated, a large number speak English, and many of them are not desperate to leave their home countries.

Wow!

That is exactly what we at International Love Scout have said for years, but it is nice to hear it coming from an unbiased academic who wants to see these women succeed and prosper. Really, none of the principals here at International Love Scout would be in this business if we did not believe that it was good for the women we profile. It is just nice to get a little validation from outside observers sometimes.