Today's focus is on a fascinating documentary my husband and I watched last Friday night on Netflix: Love Me, the story of modern day mail order brides. Basically it follows a group of American men who for various reasons have given up on finding love in America. Some live in remote parts of the country (try FarmersOnly.com maybe?), others are socially awkward enough that its easy to imagine meeting new people would be difficult, but one reason kept coming back up for why women in Ukraine and Eastern Europe were so appealing: women there just seemed to want to have a family. They want to be a wife. They want to have children. "It's like the 1950s!" was one especially noxious quote.
So American women just aren't what these men are looking for because they are focused on their own jobs and their own lives and just don't care about being there to support their men anymore, right? Time to debunk the myth that women are or ever were like that anywhere or anytime (not even in the 1950s -- I promise, that was just a very flimsy facade that shattered in men's faces within a very fast decade). Where this documentary really won me over was that the Ukranian women these men met were just as real and complicated and nuanced (and perhaps more so!) than the men the film makers set out to follow. They had entered the world of international dating for their own various reasons, but none of them seemed blinded by their own illusions of perfection and idealistic love that seemed a common affliction from the male quarter. Some of them wanted money, some a way out of a country whose economy was stifling, others just needed a new start. Sure there were women who wanted families and to be married, but they also wanted to get away from the life they had before -- be it a failed previous marriage or limited opportunity. For a few women who could easily be vilified, the online websites where they posted suggestive pictures and exchanged emails with men around the world was their own little business venture -- a source of income that they could control. The filmmakers did a great job of creating a sense of thoughtful reason behind some of the most misleading, scamming actions. You couldn't just pan these women as bad people taking men for a ride. They had lives and needs too and who are we to say that they should commit to a man they never really loved? They were just surviving and smartly profiting by living the lie these men were so happy to pay for -- the lie that they hadn't even had to sell them because the men had already bought it when they paid to join a website where they paid for every communication with the woman they were pursuing. What was so fascinating is that many of the men just couldn't comprehend that the women posting pictures and replying to their messages could be doing it for a reason all of their own. It was a classic example of the underestimation of women in general that still subconsciously exists in our society -- to think that the person on the other side wasn't a business woman or working with her own motives. She must just be sitting there waiting for love....
|You may not agree with her methods, but this woman is just trying|
to make a life for her family and she's found a way that pays the bills
with online dating. via
So who knew a mail order bride documentary would be the best movie for a Feminist Friday discussion? I highly recommend checking this one out!