Work Title: Dreaming of a Mail-Order Husband: Russian--American Internet Romance
Work Author(s): Ericka Johnson
Duke University Press
208 pages, Softcover $21.95, 978-0-8223-4029-4, Hardcover $74.95
Reviewer: Trina Carter
"Irina, 30, I am kind, good mixer, cheerful, romantic, honest, humorous, and loyal. I can only speak a little English," reads one ad. "Svetlana, 20, cheerful, soft, faithful, humorous, loving woman. I like music and sports. I especially like knitting and sewing," reads another of the thousands of pages listing women from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe trying to find husbands in the west.
No longer restricted to Asia and Latin America, these mail-order brides represent a new order of women available to men fed up with "man-hating feminists," "bitter divorcees," and "women's rights bitches" in their own countries (like America and New Zealand) and seeking wives young enough to bear children, white enough to provide proper genetic material, and desperate enough to move abroad to marry someone who picked them out of an electronic line-up. Ironically, few of the Russian women listing themselves on internet sites have ever "sat in front of a computer, much less ... surfed the Net." As the author puts it, this could be "the public face of a shadow industry for trafficking women." Or it could be that mail-order bride sites are just tapping into a universal desire to find "happiness which involve[s] a husband and family."
Johnson gives six of these "imported housewives" space to present themselves in a way denied by their online biographies. She chooses them to represent the selection process and the results, finding that "each had something unique to say to other women who...