Brides" and The Media
By Elena Petrova
they publish the truth or do they stretch it until it is a lie?"
David Bowman ("The Captive Press")
When speaking about cross culture marriages, there is an interesting
trend: a relationship between a man from the USA and a woman from
Australia is an "international relationship", yet a
relationship between the same man and a woman from Russia is a
"mail order brides" thing.
My site Russian Brides
www.womenrussia.com is at the top of many search engines for the
term "Russian brides", and as a result I often receive
requests for interviews from newspapers and magazines all over the
world; USA, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Finland, Hungary,
Australia, South Africa, Russia - and the list goes on. About half of
them have never been published. Why? I believe that the reporters are
not always happy with the answers I give to their questions.
Marrying a Russian woman
is routinely portrayed by the Media as the "mail order brides"
process. Those words tend to leave a nasty taste in your mouth, don't
The first time I heard
those words were soon after my marriage when "Cosmo" happened to
interview me, quite by chance. I was sitting at home, bored and
decided to send a letter to a competition that the magazine was
launching. "Cosmo" was looking for somebody to feature in their
article about Russian brides. My letter was like a God send, and they
phoned me asking for an interview. This was my first interview with
the Media, and I was pretty naive at the time. I thought that "Cosmo",
like all our friends and family, would find the way we met "very
romantic". Imagine my surprise when I read the announcement of the
future article: "South Africa's Mail Order Brides"! Honestly, I was
shocked and humiliated. I had no idea that, that was the official name
of the process! (The actual article had the heading "South Africa's
Mail Order Romances" which sounded a bit better, and the article
itself finished with the words "Welcome!" and "Good luck!" addressed
to all us Russian women. All in all, the article was quite all right.)
Now, getting back on
track. The history behind the term "mail order brides" goes as far
back as the time of the first American settlers. The settlers, most of
whom were men, could not find suitable women to marry and had to write
letters to Europe asking women to become their wives. In those days,
arranged marriages were common, and marrying somebody you barely knew
was nothing out of the ordinary. Back then; the women truly were "mail
These days the term
"mail order brides" is currently used to label the
relationship between a man from a first world country and a woman from
the third world country or the countries of the former USSR.
The common misconception
is that the women only want a way out of their misery and terrible
economic situation. Being incompetent in Filipino, Thailand,
Colombian, Mexican and other mail order brides, I can tell you with
confidence that this is NOT the case with Russian women seeking
Russian women have a much
better education than the brides from Asia and Latin America. About
90% of the women that apply to our agency have college or university
degrees, or are current college or university students. With their
fair complexion, their intelligence and their astounding beauty, men
have often asked me if our selection is real! Our women appear too
beautiful to be seeking husbands on the Internet.
Being intelligent and
educated, Russian women are still feminine, warm and gentle. Competing
with men is the last thing they seek in their family lives. The
Russian ideal of a man is the man with whom she feels like she is
"behind the stone wall", the leader, the provider and the protector.
Believe it or not, the reason for all these beautiful Russian women
seeking their destiny over the Internet is that they cannot find their
ideal man in Russia. It is that simple.
Most Russian women
seeking husbands abroad are NOT focused on finding a "foreign husband" but more importantly on
finding "The Husband". We often
receive requests from Russian women featured in our catalogs to remove
their profiles, because they have married Russian men living in Russia
- this is a clear evidence that most Russian women seeking contacts
with foreign men are not fixed on moving abroad but on finding a
serious relationship and getting married. For many of them, finding a
husband in her home country would be preferable to moving abroad, and
sometimes we even receive requests from women if she can find a man
who will move in with her in Russia.
In Russia, women outnumber
men (there are 10 million more women than men, according to the
latest census!), and in most situations it is a question of luck
if a woman manages to find herself a man or not. Russians marry early,
and at the age of 25 most people are already married. If a man is not
married, it can only mean he is not willing to commit - even bad men
can find themselves a wife! Women must act fast if they want to get
married and to ensure that they have a husband, one can only hope he
will be a good man. There were even talks about changing the family
legislation so that it would allow men to have multiply wives so that
there would be competition among men too. (This is not a joke; this
question was discussed in Russian parliament.)
The idea that the Media
spreads about mail order brides from Russia is absolutely false.
Most men thinking about
"mail order brides" services are not even aware that they will not
receive their bride delivered to their postal box (or their door) on
request and will have to spend time, money and effort to convince a
"bride" that he is a worthy candidate for her to consider. Yes, the
first contact happens usually by mail, air or electronic, but this is
the case with using any Internet personals, isn't it?
The interpretation the
media gives to the term "Mail order brides" is that a Russian mail
order bride will marry any man, of any age, just to get out of Russia.
The Mail order bride service is interpreted by most people as a
service that "sells women", a service that is neither respectable nor
trustworthy. Some men still believe they can point their finger at any
woman and she must marry him because he paid for her address.
This "mail order
brides" idea is an insult to any decent Russian woman.
C'mon, guys! Those women
do not think you are doing them a favor by writing to them. They feel
as if you were one of the guys who would approach her at a bar: where
she can say, "yes" if she likes you, and "thanks, but no, thanks" if
she doesn't. She does not owe you anything just because you selected
her from the thousands of other applicants or paid 10 bucks for her
contact details. If you dare to be arrogant or offensive in your
letter, you are out. She knows your music and movies as well as you
know them, and is also SEEKING HER SOUL MATE so remember that! Do not
jeopardize your chances with her by letting yourself believe in the
"mail order brides" nonsense.
Let me tell you about
myself. Before I left Russia, I was working as a regional manager of a
large marketing agency, which had offices in 22 regions all over
Russia. At some stage I had 150 people working for me. I had a car,
and for many years lived alone in my own apartment. I lived much
better than most of the regular citizens, and my income would fit in
the top 10% of the population. I have traveled all over Europe and
Asia. I was not miserable because of the economic reasons. I was
content with my life style and envied by many people, though I would
be lying to you if I said my life style did not improve since I moved
to the west. But as I said, for a woman in Russia I was doing very
well. The only reason that I did not feel completely happy was because
I could not find a good husband - and yes, finding a husband and
starting a family was very important for me. Because of this,
and only because of this, I decided to look abroad. I made a few
disastrous attempts to find a partner using local personals, which I
will not describe here because the subject of this article is a
serious one and my meetings with the guys from personals would turn it
into a sitcom. Being an industrious person, sooner or later I would
end up at the "marriage agencies" as they call dating services in
Russia. With me it happened later, after 3 years of thinking, because
I could not believe that good, faithful, honest, caring, professional,
ambitious, career orientated AND single men existed in this world, men
who did not have a long queue of hopeful women knocking at their door.
This would be too good to be true. Why did I eventually do it? It was
the same type of thing that one does when buying a lotto ticket - do
you REALLY think you will hit the jackpot? No, but it doesn't hurt to
try and if you don't try, you will never even have the "hope" that you
might just win.
When I started to receive
letters from mostly nice, good-looking, successful guys (far from the
portrait of the "looser" that the Media wants you to believe in), I
was absolutely smitten. I could not believe those guys were telling
all these wonderful words to ME! It could not be real. It could only
be a dream. They wanted to have a family and children! They wanted TO
GET MARRIED AND SETTLE DOWN. Those were the things that I could never
expect from a Russian guy. Russian guys are hunted down, and would
only capitulate into marriage after a proper siege. Too good to be
true? This was exactly my feeling from all those photos and letters.
You probably get the
same feeling when you read ads of Russian women on the Internet, well, Russian mail order brides. It is too
good to be true, and there must be something wrong either with the
website itself or the women that advertise on it.
Well, well, well… YOU are
looking for a wife. You personally, you are OK, aren't you? So are
Please forget everything
what you have heard, read or seen in the Media. The Media prefers
to concentrate on scandal stories because they must sell their
newspapers, magazines, etc, and horror stories
attract more attention than "happily ever after" fairy tales. (When was the last time you saw a story about a happy marriage
on the front page? But a "mail order brides" horror can easily make
it.) To sell more copies magazines must publish something "extra
ordinary", which will shake their audience up to their knees. Murders
and treachery sell newspapers. This is one reason why you will rarely
find happy stories about international couples in the Media.
But there is also a more
powerful reason. Why newspapers want to sell more copies and TV
channels to attract more viewers? They would never survive if
their only source of income were the regular Joe buying the newspaper
on the street corner.
The driving force
behind the Media is ADVERTISING, and newspapers, magazines and TV
channels' most important goal is to sell advertising space in their
editions. Half of their audience is WOMEN. Imagine if they tell in
their stories how wonderful are Russian mail order brides, how happy
are their husbands and what great kids they have? They would be
crucified by the half of their audience. Half of their audience would
be absolutely mad at them and probably never buy this magazine or
newspaper again. Now, do you understand why many of my interviews to
the Media are never published? I do not give them enough facts that
would support the scandalous concept of "mail order brides".
Put it simpler, you are
not getting all the truth. You are getting the negative information,
and seldom the positive. The Media only presents you with the facts
that fit in with their concept.
Let me give the word to
people who work in this industry themselves:
publisher and journalist: "I met Aryna, my Ukrainian bride,
through one of these big dating sites and asked the company to publish
our story. However, while the site does carry 'true stories' and its
service and profiles span the globe, the company's management views
and perceptions appear to be parochially American. If the romance is
not "N.Y., N.Y. meets Washington D.C." it isn't worthy of
journalist (also the author of Foreign
Bride Guide): "Lena and I are an example of just one more
success story that you don’t read about in the local newspapers. Added
to the dozens of other happy couples I’ve come in contact with in the
last few years who would not have met each other without the help of
the international romance tour industry, means the general public is
not getting the whole truth about this business."
I can confirm it from my
own experience with interviews to newspapers and magazines: they are
not lying (this could be prosecuted) but they are not supplying you
with all the facts either. They take your words out of context and it
then looks like you said something completely different than what you
in fact really said.
For example, they would
ask me why I did not want to marry a Russian guy, and I would say that
I would be happy to marry a Russian guy; that I was actually looking
for a Russian guy for a long time but could not find somebody
suitable. That because I had a very good career in Russia, good
education, and was earning good money, and generally lived very well, I wanted to find somebody like me, who
would also be educated and career orientated, and at the same time
was unmarried, and willing to commit. I did not look for somebody
rich or famous, just a "normal guy". But to find such a guy in Russia
for a woman over 25 is all but impossible - and I was already 28, the
age where all your family and friends had already written you off as
an "old maid" who would never get married: 28 and never married in
Russia - it's a life sentence. This is why I decided to try to look
abroad. Then the magazine would write in their article that I decided
to look for a husband abroad because I wanted to marry a guy who
had money and a good career, and lived well. Taken out of the
context it would sound like I was a perfect "gold-digger"!
This is the usual dodge in
compiling stories. On the TV, they ask you 100 questions, and
skillfully cut 2-3 of them. So a two-hour interview turns into a few
phrases that would sound very different in the light of the previous
discussion. You will only hear what they want you to hear, and the
facts that don't fit in with their concept are left behind the scenes.
Most TV channels, magazines and newspapers are owned by only a few
major players, and they will never jeopardize their commercial
I believe the Media is
actually doing a bad service to their countrymen, making them
believe that Russian women are hard up and will marry anybody just to
get out of their misery. This is the concept that is extensively
exploited by scammers, you have probably heard about them. Dating
scammers usually contact unsuspecting men through large Internet
personals and start professing their undying love and desire for
marriage after a few short letters. The scam scenario fits perfectly
with the Media's insinuations, and men believe all they need to do is
to pay her travel expenses and they will have a perfect mail order
bride at their front door next week Friday. When "she" does not show
up on "D"-day, they say "All those Russian women are just a scam" and
if they are very unhappy, probably another "mail order brides" horror
story is born.
Would people believe this
story if she were from Cincinnati, Ohio, and not from Ekaterinburg,
Russia? No way! But the Media created a "mail order brides" myth,
which led them to think this unbelievable situation is possible in the
case with a woman from Russia. After all, she is just a mail order
bride. See the consequences?
The real, legitimate
Russian dating agencies do NOT offer Russian mail order brides.
Russian mail order
brides is a thing that does not exist.
There are Russian women
that seek contacts with foreign men with the intention of future
marriage. Those women are educated, intelligent and smart. They are
not going to become intimate submissives or maids. They seek equal
partnership and will not tolerate infidelity or abuse. There is
nothing wrong with them; they are not doing anything different from
women that place ads in your local personals. There is a lack of men
in their country, why can't they look elsewhere? We all have the right
to seek happiness.
As said by a reporter from
Irish TV after I answered their questions about why Russian brides are
suddenly so popular in Ireland, "From what you said I see a
legitimate matchmaking service and not just some slicky mail order
brides operation". And this is exactly what Russian dating
agencies offer - introductions to real, existing, marriage minded
Russian women. They do not sell women. They offer a way for people
from different countries to find each other and be happy.
But those people are free,
and bear full responsibility for their own actions. One would not
complain on a national television about problems with his
"girl-next-door" fiancée, but if she is from Russia, it is the
"Russian mail order brides" problem.
It is just a problem of
a particular guy, with a particular woman!
There are bad people among
all nations; in your country, too, there are probably some men and
some women who get ripped off through their marriages - unfortunately,
there is nothing we can do about it. Just try to avoid the bad ones to
the best of our abilities. No relationship is guaranteed problem-free;
it is impossible.
There are hundreds or even
thousands of happy international marriages, and there are only a few
unhappy ones. One can get into trouble in a marriage with her
countryman or his countrywoman; and you know yourself it happens all
the time; it probably happened with somebody of your family or
friends. Yes, there are gold diggers and social climbers; which
nation does not have them? It is not the reason to discriminate
against of Russian, or Ukrainian, or Uzbek women.
I do not say a marriage to
a Russian woman will guarantee you will live in paradise on Earth. Not
all marriages are the same! But it does not mean it has to end in
Most things in life are
potential trouble-makers. But, for example, no one cancels adoptions
because there were a few adoptive parents that abused their adopted
children, and a few adopted kids that later caused great problems for
their adoptive parents. People understand that they were rather
More people die in road
accidents than of cancer; but no one is thinking about prohibiting
cars. What is done concerns road safety.
There are sexually
transmitted deceases, including AIDS, but no one is thinking about
prohibiting sex. Just take precautions when you do it!
There was a case where an
American husband killed his Russian wife. Now what? All Americans
marrying foreigners are paranoid murderers?? Was not there ever a case
where an American husband killed an American wife? Were marriages in
general announced dangerous after that?
Don't throw away the kid
with the dirty water, and don't judge a phenomena by some untypical,
extreme cases. I went through the process of marrying a foreigner
myself, and I was not exploited, or trafficked, or abused, and neither
was my husband. It was a story of two people from different countries
meeting each other and falling in love.
I am proud to do what I am
doing. I am not in the "mail order brides" business. I am in a dating
business. I am helping people to find their love. I hope with my input
there will be a few more happy couples in the world, and a few less
Because good people
deserve to be happy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elena Petrova is
the owner of the dating agency Elena's Models