Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Foreign Brides

It's summer, and being at the moment much distracted by matters of love & real estate, I have decided to do a little "recycling." I wrote this about ten years ago, in response to seeing the following post on Seattle Craigslist Rants'n'Raves (which was the masochistic pleasure I indulged in before discovering the "manosphere").

Guys if you want a Real lady Thailand is the place to find them! The bitches here ( I wont call them ladies) are a bunch of fucking Flakes 

Ah, yes, the enduring allure of the Asian wife: slender, petite, soft-spoken, submissive. 

I don't see my neighbor Frank much, even though he lives right across the street. He's a bit reclusive... or whatever you call someone who keeps all the windows in his house papered over with aluminum foil. But I hear (through my kindly neighbor, who's really in the loop on our cul-de-sac) that he was so set on marrying a virgin that he sent for one by mail, all the way from the Philippines. Unfortunately, after several years of marital bliss, she high-tailed it back to Manila. He still sends her money, though, so he must remember her fondly.

Fresh, tender cherry blossoms... or iron butterflies? 

In my line of work, I get to meet quite a few of these odd couples. A few years ago, a middle-aged Boeing machinist with a pronounced limp and one crusty eye swaggered into the office, towing a tiny, limpid Vietnamese girl who looked barely pubescent. "She needs to learn her some English," he growled. "I warn you, though, she's a real beginner. She no speak English good," he bellowed the last pidgin sentence into her ear.

I began to assess her proficiency by asking her name. She looked at me, mute and apparently bewildered, although, as is often the case, her control of the language increased exponentially once Big Daddy was banished from the room.

It didn't surprise me that she turned out to be a stellar student and is now enrolled in college studying to be an RN. In another year she will graduate and be ready to dump the lame-ass who brought her here and subsidized her education. Sure, his heart will be broken at first, but then hoo boy! will he be pissed off! Especially since Washington is a community property state.

It's easy to feel contemptuous of these suckers and to hate their beyond-patriarchal attitudes ("I paid for her, she's mine") which are rooted in a generalized misogyny and -- let's face it -- demonstrate a sound rejection of American women. (I mean, it's not like I want to marry a mean, stupid, toothless Boeing machinist, but still...)

It's easy to feel sorry for their wives, at least initially: vulnerable, exploited girls who should still be under the protection of their loving families and enjoying their care-free youths back home instead of sexually indenturing themselves to old coots. Local murders like that of Susana Blackwell (shot in a Seattle courthouse by her estranged American husband), or, more recently, that of Anastasia King, are not very common, but underscore how vulnerable these women are.

I'm not without a measure of compassion for both parties, actually: Everyone needs love and everyone needs money. On the face of it, these marriages should be win/win arrangements. And I suppose most marriages are compromises of some sort. We all make "deals." Hell, I'm not even married, and my sexual/romantic life is just one rather unsatisfactory "deal" after another. [Update: Glad to report that is no longer true since I climbed off the "cock carousel" and found my soul-mate alpha bitch.]

But these marriages are deals with the devil. The difference is that one party doesn't get it, at least not right away (and maybe never -- I heard Frank is courting another Filipina through one of the thousands of internet sites available for just that purpose). The other party is under no illusions, although perhaps underestimates the physical risk by underestimating the potential danger of violence. She jumps at the best chance life offers her: winner take all.

A reader followed up to this post by asking, "What is it about the Russian mail-order brides on which these guys hitch their fantasies?" 

That's an easy one: They are white. 

Guys who look to the former Soviet Union are a little different. They tend to be slightly higher in class (not high class, mind you, just white-collar rather than blue-collar). They are liberal enough not to require their wives be virgins; a surprising number marry divorcees with children. Their dream is to acquire the trappings of upward mobility (house, boat, trophy wife) for which they lack the personal means (looks, charm, income). Therefore, they are bargain hunters.

Former satellite states such as Moldava, Ukraine, and Kirghistan are, for them, a shopper's paradise. Nowhere can they get more bang for their buck. The women are beautiful in all the ways they, and the peers they want to impress, most value: statuesque, blonde, fashion-conscious. (Even though their fashion aesthetic owes more to Las Vegas than to Vogue, and on our suburban campus they stand out like very expensive call girls who have wandered into a Walmart.)

One can only squirm as their proud husbands gush about how well these women "fit in" with their families here in the States. After all, they already "look like" Americans (that is to say, white)!

These men are a bit too "evolved" and far too romantic to openly value submission in their wives. Instead, they will allude to other qualities: loyalty, beauty, maternal potential. Russian (or Ukrainaian or Moldavan) wives make good mothers, you see, because they (unlike American women) understand the importance of family. (Never mind that Russia has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, significantly higher than the U.S.)

The fantasy element these guys have in common with all American men who marry women from poor countries is that they are White Knights. They assume that the women will be grateful for having been rescued. And even more fatally, they believe that this gratitude will morph into love. Only in the movies, kids! 

They are ignoring a fundamental principle of human nature: We are not automatically grateful to those to whom we are economically beholden. In fact, we often resent and despise them. (My experience as a foster parent, which I'll write about later, taught me this.)

I see quite a few of these eastern bloc ladies in my classes, though lately fewer Russians, which makes me wonder if conditions there are picking up. Often well-educated in their own countries -- especially likely if they are Russian -- they tend to place high on entry and make rapid progress through the system. I find them to be excellent students and terrifying forces of nature. They are the least sentimental, most brazenly opportunistic, of the mail order wives. They're relatively easy to talk to -- forthright, articulate, poised -- and relatively difficult to like. They come with the attitude I've gotten this far, just don't get in my way, bitch. 

I've never met one who even pretended to like her American husband. It's not unusual, although no less bizarre, to see a Russian surgeon mated to a used car dealer. He's bursting with pride at her accomplishment, but what was he thinking? (She makes no bones what she's thinking: the more English she learns, the more he displeases her.) She encourages him to adopt her adolescent children and bring them over, which he practically bankrupts himself to do. But she isn't having any kids with him any time soon. Once she gets her permanent residency and is reunited with as many members of her biological family as possible, it's all over but the shoutin'. If she remarries (though why should she?) it will be to a fellow immigrant, one she recognizes as a peer, often someone from her hometown.


  1. I've been on the other side of the classroom - one of the foreigners trying to learn the language. My classes had a few mail order brides in them. There were a couple of Thai brides who were soft and beautiful - for a while. The reality of being married to a pensioner gradually dawned on them e.g. that what seemed like a lot of money in Thailand was a hard scrabble, pinched existence in cold Europe.

    One old geezer was particularly horrible. He was twice her size and more than twice her age. Every time they were out, he would keep his hand on her shoulder, or make a grab for her arm. It was very "she's mine - hands off!" behaviour.

    How these guys manage the social stigma is interesting. Nobody believes for one moment that they have a younger woman on their arm because the girl fancies him. They get pitying looks. Still, I guess it's worth it for them. And the women usually know the bargain they've made.

  2. The capability for self-delusion in these men is astounding. I'm put in mind of philosopher Soren Kierkegaard's observation that "There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true." These men aptly display both methods. I pity them, but that pity is mixed with revulsion -- and with concern for their brides.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Julie. Please send me a link if you have a blog.

  3. Russian women are bad news. Take it from someone who knows. Beautiful, yes, but cunning and highly materialistic. They are the product of the Russian culture, which is not known, especially today, for its idealism.


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