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International marriages. The history, tendencies and development of Russian mail order bride "fashion".

Russian 'mail order brides'. Interethnic marriages. Russian men on the international dating scene.

A Russian bride

First Russian mail order brides services opened in Russia and other post-soviet countries in the beginning of the 90th. The introduction agencies of that period offered matchmaking for upcountry Russian women mainly. Economically hard transitional period of the country's economy made Russian women flee small poverty-stricken Russian towns. The women craved a better life conditions in more economically developed countries and tried a chance of creating a happy family as the male-female ratio was not in favor of the nation's females. The increasing number of matchmaking agencies made the Russian mail order bride market grow.

Mail-order bride term may have a negative connotation as historically it derived from arranged marriages and is viewed as a domestic contract between men from the West and women from the East. The term however is widely used by international marriage agencies just because it is easily recognized. The international marriage agencies are frequently referred to as "mail-order bride" agencies. They are also called marriage brokers even though factual arrangement of marriage does not take place. In fact the business involves introducing men and women of different countries for the purpose of marriage, dating or correspondence. Agencies are based near women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand and the Philippines). They encourage women to register for their services, and facilitate communication and meetings with men from developed regions of North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Women voluntary publish their ads and search for a partner using the suitable services. A Russian mail-order-bride is not carefully chosen, packed and sent by FedEx, the process takes time and efforts from both man and woman dating internationally. Besides visa requirements of some countries like the US mean that the meeting in person, knowing each other is necessary before applying for a fiancé visa.

Aged 25-30 on average, often divorced and with a child Russian women make a significant part of emigrants annually. The preferred destinations are: Germany and other countries of Europe, The USA, Canada.

The motives of Russian women are obvious. Imbalance between the number of available women and the number of men desiring partners is growing in Russia. More young, educated, single women over face a difficulty to find a partner. By the age of 30-35 this is becoming a real problem. A woman with a child in Russia is often outcast on the local dating scene. There are no illusions about well-off, kind and loving western Prince Charming and a happy life in own house on the ocean shore. Women need stable partners and firm families.

Women in Russia complain that Russian men fall behind performing the expected male model as a head of the family and picture western men's attitude to the woman and their family role as much more attractive. Even though they may not know enough or experienced living in the Western country and have little understanding of western mentality. In general Russian women often view foreigners through the common stereotypes.

On average, the awareness of what the real life abroad is low, especially for women that never travelled abroad. That is why many women tend to imagine the average western man and life in the States and Europe based on what the Hollywood films show.

Among the other reasons that drive Russian women seek a marriage abroad is high rate of alcohol and drug abuse among the country's male population. Alcohol is blamed for one-third of all deaths in the country and is inevitably affecting younger people.

The motives of Western men also range. A significant part of men-clients are farmers. Work on farm leaves little time for searching a wife, besides, not many local women are interested in toiling outside the city. Many men of colour prefer to seek a Russian bride, single fathers, elderly men and men with low social status make the majority of matchmaking agencies' clients.

The tendency and Russian bride "fashion" fades away with the time though. The figures of the last decade show that American embassy registers fewer Russian women applying for the fiancé (K1, K2) visa to the US. 1945 fiancé visas were issued in 2006, 1575 visas - in 2007 and a bit more then 1200 in 2008.

Russian mail-order-bride stereotype

Russian statistics research of 2009 shows that only 7% of Russian women would think positive about marrying a foreigner. The previous enthusiasm vanished into thin air due to the overwhelming information on unhappy international marriages, child custody battles, language gap, religion, mentality barriers and cultural differences.

The economic reason is no longer as meaningful as it was in 1990th. Russian economy has grown for the last 10 years and more women show a capability to build a successful career and earn a living. Wanting a better economic life for themselves is some factor for wanting to move West for some women, but it is not the main factor. Still interested in the possibility of marrying a foreigner they tend to approach it as just one of possible options rather than the main aim. Social networks have become a more popular place to date than mail international marriage agencies. Well-educated, globe-trotting, successful young Russian women often prefer western men or Russian men with significant western experience. These women are seldom the clients of dating services though.

The foreign partners are not that eager to get a Russian bride as before as well. On the one hand Russian women are described as "most beautiful", hot, intelligent. On the other hand for many Russian and Ukrainian women have gained bad international reputation due to scam cases. The police reports however prove that there are often men that pose as women in online scam.

Other factors against Russian mail order brides are: different mentality, misunderstanding about money, different expectations and the ideas of marriage, long adaptation period. Some are connected with longstanding myths about Russian women. The main reason against international marriages is that there are significant financial efforts involved into arranging to marry a woman from Russia

International marriages divorce rate is high, around 30% higher compared to the usual marriage social polls report. It's true that some marriages end that way, but there are many more that do not. It's natural for people to propagate the negative stories than the positive ones. Dating agecnies staff porvide a different statistics though. Besides, there is still a mis-conception of "international dating" and more fear and stereotypes, than truth. Whatever the pros and cons of international marriages are people still eager to take a risk as it is about their life and happiness.

Interethnic marriages.

Sociologist admit that the rate of interethnic marriages is quite high in Russia. The total percentage of interethnic marriages in Moscow made 58 % in 2009. In the majority of cases Russian women marry migrants form the Caucasian republics that legally or illegally stay in Moscow and are financially independent. The scientists predict changing of Russian genofond in several decades due to the increasing number of interethnic marriages in central Russian region. The children raised in interethnic families face the problem of ethnic identification and are often not fully accepted by either of the ethnic groups their families consist of. The religious and cultural clashes take place. Families sometimes have to overcome legal obstacles when it comes to adoption and inheritance. Medics are alarmed that the children form interracial marriages are weaker, having shorter life span and have higher risk of genetical diseases.

The similar situation is noticed in the Far East region of Russia where an increasing number of Russian-Chinese marriages takes place. Due to the considerably smaller female population in China and severe demographic restrictions, single Chinese men have to seek a wife abroad, which is most often is the Far East of Russia.

Russian men on the international dating scene

Can Russian men make a serious competition to western grooms on the dating market? Russian history has not been merciful to Russian men. The Soviet regime is often blamed for all the contemporary misfortunes of Russian life now. This is not all true; however it greatly affected the gender roles and the archetype of modern Russian man. The annihilation of men that began in Russia with the first World War and the Civil War continued through the purges of Lenin and Stalin to WW2 and Afghanistan. As a result, women became adept at bringing up families without any help.

Russian revolution made Russian woman a leader, she had to undertake the man's labour and social roles as well as become a leader in the family. Being brought up by such woman a Russian man wants to both dominate and obey. He often expects a woman to be his friend, wife, lover and a mother. Playing a parental role towards an equal partner is hard to comprehend and perform for many Russian women. For foreign woman this appears absurd.

Russian men make international marriages with women from Asia and East, however there are just few successful unions with women from European countries and the States. Sociologists explain this by the strong patriarchal attitudes of Russian men and often chauvinistic approach towards women, especially in smaller cities. The alcolization of Russian men also made its negative effect. There is a strong stereotype that all Russian men drink heavily. Not all, of course, but drinking tradition is very strong in the country.

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