Pleasures Of The Orient

By | May 6, 2012

There’s a trend in this country, amongst a certain type of man, of a certain age, to seek out companionship in a certain way. A tiny number of women do it too but from what I have seen they form a tiny minority of the individuals involved in this activity.

I’m talking about Mail Order Brides. I’m not talking here about relationships that span cultures, nationalities or race, they are to be embraced. My best friend at Junior School was half Cambodian, his mother had been displaced while east and west fought ideological wars by proxy in the region in the 1960s.

I’m talking about middle aged to retirement aged men who have a bit of money in the bank and too much brash jewellery about their person. They tend to drive cars that are loud, both in terms of volume and styling. They have probably been married before and now as their hair lightens and thins, and the rest of their body heads south they seek to rejuvenate themselves, at least in their own eyes, and I suppose the eyes of their peers, by marrying a younger woman. The women tend to be from the Asia-Pacific region, though eastern Europe is now becoming a source of potential mates.

Again, this in itself is not a problem. If true feeling exists between two people involved in a relationship then age is pretty much irrelevant. There are certain practical issues whereby the life expectancy of one partner is way outside that of the other but then again who knows when our number is up? Fate could snatch us away at any time and it’s the time we spend together not the time we spend apart in a relationship that should matter.

I mean I’m guessing here at the motivation I suppose, because the whole idea of literally importing a human being from thousands of miles away from a country whose culture is different and language is alien is anathema to me. It smacks of human trafficking or even slave trading. No I’m not saying the women are treated like slaves or abused.

The argument in favour seems to be that the women (and they tend to be quite young women from the ones I’ve encountered) are willing participants in the trade. They send money back to their extended family and therefore gain from the deal. There it is you see, deal. It’s a commercial transaction not a relationship. While I can see that an impoverished family would benefit from the arrangement it’s based around a financial transaction. Do we regard this as an extended dowry? Is the girl a long-term-hire escort? Or is it a form of permanent prostitution.

I suppose after a time, when the females involved have learned English (while there is a range of language skills many have only the rudiments of English) and got to know the men they have committed to they may fall in love. That’s great, but being isolated by a language barrier and forced to rely on their new husband for communication and support means they are bound to stay with that man. Maybe they don’t feel like this but to me it looks like a prison of circumstance created by the arrangement they have chosen to become involved in.

I’d like to think, for the sake of the women involved that they are content, or as content as they have been conditioned to believe they can be. I just can’t see it though, am I too traditional in my attitude towards relationships? Apparently so. While writing this piece I found a US law firm which specialises in advising US citizens on obtaining a visa for their new bride, the senior partner is pictured on the website’s front page with a beautiful Thai woman in a western style wedding dress hanging off his arm.