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The Circuit of Culture
Article written by Christine Ho

I PERSONALLY WENT ONLINE to "consume" a mail-order bride through Asian Blossoms. Once again, I acquired a fake email address at Hotmail. I went to the web site and browsed it. Of course, the ads of the Asian women were already up with most of them also having a picture, but in order to have their email addresses or home addresses, one has to pay for them.

THERE WERE FOUR WAYS to gain access to their addresses.

Asian Females
Breaking Stereotypes

March Fong Eu

Prominent Chinese women who has been breaking countless stereotypes within her long political career

Suchin Park

MTV's "VJ" is providing an example to the MTV-generation of an Asian female with her own mind and views.

Anna May Wong

Acting pioneer who fought to break Asian female stereotypes throughout her long movie career from the 1920's to the 1960's.

THE THIRD ASPECT of the circuit of culture is the identity of the consumers of Asian mail-order brides. Once the analysis is taken to the identity level and beyond, there is not much distinction between mail-order brides from paper catalogues and Internet sites. A look at the identity of these consumers will show that they are only looking for exotic, submissive Asian women. Yet, these men are not typically the "losers" that one would expect.

WHILE THE DATA on the type of men that marry mail-order brides is limited, all of the information tends to agree with certain facts. The only empirical research that has been done is by Davor Jedlicka from the University of Texas in 1985, which is somewhat dated but useful nevertheless. Jedlicka sent out 607 questionnaires to men seeking mail-order brides and received 260 responses. The research showed that the men were

THE MAIN POINT OF THIS STUDY is that most of these men have been married at least once and are now divorced and probably disillusioned with Western women. For his concluding thoughts, Jedlicka states that the men are mostly "above average." He paints a very attractive picture of these men who buy women to marry.

IN OPPOSITION, many sources view these men in a different light. While they admit these men are usually educated and successful, they also claim that these men only want submissive and controllable women due to their past failure with Western women. Dr. Gladys L. Symons of University of Calgary claims that these men most likely grew up before the rise of the feminist movement and, therefore, cannot handle "liberated" American women. "These men want women who will feel totally dependent on them. They want women who are submissive and less intimidating," says Symons.

FURTHER, IN 1985, the Japanese American Citizens League conducted research citing that the men were:

This quote shows that the identity of a mail-order bride consumer is a man looking for the stereotyped Asian woman.

ANOTHER CRITIC OF THESE MEN and Jedlicka's flattering portrayal of these men is Krich, a writer for Mother Jones. In his article, which refers to Jedlicka's study, he asserts that these men "speak of wanting someone 'who'll be there every night' as one put it, 'who won't cheat, and who I can trust to do right by me - even down to how she takes care of the dog.'" In her thesis, Mindy Lauck states, "While these men may in fact be highly educated, they are clearly misinformed. These men are merely white privileged males who cannot bear the thought of having their safe patriarchal world taken away from them." Even Gary Clark, author of Your Bride Is In the Mail, states, "the feminist movement is to blame" for the mail-order bride industry. Taking into account the characteristics of the men who marry mail-order brides, these sources translate the men into individuals wanting wives they can control - nice, submissive, little Asian girls.

THE TESTIMONIES FROM THE MEN who marry mail-order brides tell of their own identities. One man from the Far East Match says, "The Philippine woman is content to be at home, content with where she is, content with the relationship, and content to serve the man." A man named Lou, who married Tessie from the Philippines, comments, "Asian countries make fine superior products, and I prefer a fine superior lady for my wife." A Midwesterner in his fifties with two divorces on file and a newly married Asian mail-order bride justifies himself by saying:

The aforementioned Gary Clark states that these men want "a woman significantly younger than themselves (between 10 and 20 years)," someone who is "physically attractive, charming, gentle, sweet, feminine" and whose primary career goal is to "become his wife, as opposed to pursuing some professional career." In essence, the identity of these consumers is the man, who has become disillusioned by American, liberated women and now wants the stereotyped geisha girl or China doll.

Article References
Supporting Documentation

  • Asia Blossoms

  • Ibid.

  • Ibid.

  • Ibid.

  • Clark, Gary. "Separating fact from fiction about mail-order brides" March 3, 2001

  • Glodava, Mila and Onizuka, Richard. Mail-Order Brides: Women for Sale. Alaken, Inc.: Fort Collins, Colorado, 1994, p. 25.

  • Ibid., p. 25-26.

  • Asian Women United of California. Making Waves: An Anthology of Writings By and About Asian American Women. Beacon Press: Boston, 1989, p. 319.

  • Glodava, Mila and Onizuka, Richard. Mail-Order Brides: Women for Sale. Alaken, Inc.: Fort Collins, Colorado, 1994, p. 27.

  • Ibid., p. 26.

  • Bowden, Robert. "Point, click, matrimony." (June 10, 1996). Tampa Tribune

  • Glodava, Mila and Onizuka, Richard. Mail-Order Brides: Women for Sale. Alaken, Inc.: Fort Collins, Colorado, 1994, p. 29.

  • Small, Michael and Mathison, Dirk. "For men who want an old-fashioned girl, the latest wedding march is here comes the Asian mail-order bride." (September 16, 1985). People Weekly

  • Ibid.

  • Clark, Gary. "Separating fact from fiction about mail-order brides." March 3, 2001

  • Espiritu, Yen Le. Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love. Sage Publication: London, 1997, p. 94.

  • Ibid.

  • Asian and Russian Ladies - March 8, 2001

  • International: A China Doll - March 8, 2001

  • Lucky Flower - March 8, 2001

  • REPRESENTATION of the Asian Mail-Order Bride Industry is the fourth aspect of the circuit of culture. There are two representations in this industry: the women, who are the mail-order brides, and the men, who purchase them. The representation of these women strictly adheres to the stereotypes of Asian women.

    ACCORDING TO YEN LE ESPIRITU, the author of Asian American Women and Men, there are two ways to represent Asian women.

    THE ADVERTISEMENTS ON THE WEB SITES clearly play up this "Lotus Blossom Baby" image of Asian women. At Asian and Russian Ladies, the site advertises, "Imagine that there are heart stopping, young, sweet, exotically beautiful women waiting to meet you." Not only are they "young, sweet, and exotically beautiful" but they also fulfill the fantasies of Asian women that men, who seek Asian mail-order brides, have.

    FAITHFUL, BEAUTIFUL, SUBMISSIVE and hardworking are the characteristics advertised at the site of "International: A China Doll" about the Asian women on their site. Browsing further though this site, one sees an ad stating, "I am a traditional Chinese girl and would be a wonderful wife for a wonderful man. I like to keep household cozy and in order," with a line under it suggesting, "Marry This Peach of a China Doll!" At, the site states:

    This quote clearly plays up the "Lotus Blossom Baby" representation of Asian women. The Asian mail-order bride industry plays on these stereotypes of Asian women due to the characteristics of the men who are the consumers.

    To continue to Part 3, click HERE

    Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

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