The institution of marriage has long been a part of different societies and cultures. Each society has created a set of rules, which they believe define what a marriage should and should not be. In recent years, marriage has taken on a variety of definitions. In a majority of societies a marriage is no longer just between a man and a woman. As society has evolved so has the institution of marriage and anything associated with it. Many believed and still believe that for two individuals to be ready for marriage, they must get to know each other on a deep level and have an emotional, spiritual, and physical connection.
But what happens when someone marries without connecting on all those levels. Is it possible to find a marriage partner without checking off each section? For many it would be difficult to fathom the idea of marrying someone without really getting to know them, but for others all it takes is for a quick internet search or a phone call and they have their bride to be. Even though it may seem as simple as a quick click on a link, the mail order bride industry is much more complicated then that.
Women on the site have to go through an extensive background check and must present all information that the websites, also known as International Marriage Broker sites, ask for. The men undergo a background check that is less extensive than the women’s, and they also must pay certain fees in order to be in contact with the women. These International Marriage Brokers, also known as IMB’S, use a variety of methods to display these women to American men who are willing to pay for an opportunity to find a bride.
The way in which IMB sites present women further perpetuates women as a commodity. The mail order bride industry has been around for many years. The industry has been called a part of the settlement history of the United States. The first colonial mail order brides in America were known as the “Jamestown Brides”, “King’s daughters”, or the “Casket girls” (Zug, 2016, 85). The first mail order bride marriages occurred shortly after Britain established their colonies. Britain, along with France, encouraged migration to the new colonies in order to increase the population.
Many men arrived to the settlements but there was a lack of families and single women arriving. As a result there was no growth in population since men outnumbered the women. Due to fear of the colony failing, the colonial governments actively sought to increase the number of marriageable women in the colony (Zug, 2016, 87). The first request for brides was made by the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Soon after that request, the Virginia Company began to solicit females.
Even though many attempts were made there was ultimately a low response rate to the solicitations. In 1619, Sir Edwin Sandy’s took over the company and recommended sending women, instead of soliciting them, as wives to the men in the colonies in order to prevent the men from returning to England. His method would ensure that there would be population growth since the men would not have to return home to seek wives (Zug, 2016, 88). The plan was put into action in the spring of 1620, and ninety marriageable women arrived in Jamestown.
Once they arrived a majority of the woman found husbands. The criteria to be a “Jamestown Bride” was simple. They were looking for “founding women” who were not prostitutes, criminals, or desperate even if they were poor (Zug, 2016, 90). Once the women arrived and were married, the husbands had to pay a $120 fee for the cost of transporting the women while the women were promised a certain level of status. This strategy seemed to prove effective as it overall increased the population of the settlements (Zug, 2016, 91).
Aside from the early colonial brides, the United States also saw a rise in mail order brides and services in the early 20th century. During this time tensions between the United States and Japan were at an all-time high. Interracial marriages between Americans and Japanese were frowned upon. This left Japanese men who were settled in the U. S. without any opportunities for dating and marriage. The lack of opportunity led many men to seek women back home. In 1907 an informal agreement called The Gentleman’s Agreement allowed Japanese men to communicate with women back home.
The agreement was originally intended to reduce immigration restrictions on Japan as long as they limited the number of non-working Japanese who came to the states (Kusel, 2014, 168). Due to a loophole in the agreement, Japanese men were able to communicate with women and find brides that they could bring to the U. S without violating the conditions of the agreement (Kusel, 2014, 168). From this point on the mail order bride industry began to develop as not only a way for Japanese men to find brides, but for other Americans to do so as well.
The mail order bride industry has evolved from the days in which Japanese men had to wait days, weeks, or even months in order to receive responses from women. The industry, once catalog based, has flourished into a large online business. During the 1990’s, the number of matchmaking service websites exploded. This explosion made way for the steady rise of online dating sites and the number of Americans who use the services. In 2015 approximately 15% of American adults had used online dating sites (Meltzer, 2017, 38).
With the rise of the internet and dating sites, more and more Americans are turning to these sites for help in the romance department. Sites like Ok Cupid, Tinder, Grindr, Match. com, and many more are becoming increasingly popular as a way for adults to date. There has not only been an emergence of dating sites, but there has also been a steady rise in the number of mail order bride sites as well. International Marriage Brokers, also known as mail order bride sites have been on the rise thanks to the internet.
In 2010, the Tahirih Justice Center reported that there were over 400 International Marriage Brokers doing business within the United States (Kusel, 2014, 169). These websites connect women who are seeking husbands with American men who are seeking a bride. A majority of the interactions that occur between two individuals are online based. Emails, phone calls, and pictures are exchanged for an indefinite period of time between the two with the help of the IMB sites. A Foreign Affair, an IMB site helps American men connect with women.
This site, along with countless others, allows women to create a profile with basic information such as name, country of origin, and occupation. American men also must create an account in order to connect with the women. Once they are registered they have plenty of opportunities to connect with countless women. All the necessary information that the men need in order to make a decision of who they wish to speak to is displayed on the site. Images, body measurements, and descriptions are displayed.