2013-02-01

Marriage Knows No Borders

I'm late to the party on this one (again), but it seems that there has been some discussion of the recent trend toward rich American men venturing to the Ukraine to meet what are essentially mail-order brides.

Tim from Spootville points to a post on something called the "Roosh forum," which in turn posts to an entry on something called "Return of Kings," which ultimately points to additional coverage of the point elsewhere on the same blog. Reading all that stuff should catch you up to speed if you would like a really deep dive into a world in which Ukrainian women appeal to American men because they are beautiful, while American men appeal to Ukrainian women because they are rich.

First, A Disclaimer
Before I proceed, I need to make something clear: Much of the commentary expressed in the above links involves statements to which I vehemently object, and some of which I consider downright offensive. But, they are entitled to their opinions. You've been warned.

Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Blog
As far as I can tell, the point of all these blog-and-forum posts is to extol the virtues of marrying a mail-order Ukrainian or, perhaps by extension, any variety of mail-order foreigners. The best evidence in favor of this seems to be an impressively high 80% success rate enjoyed by participants of mail-order matrimony.

This is nothing to balk at. When we stop to consider that we are fundamentally talking about people who come from dramatically different backgrounds, different cultures, a different set of experiences, and different positions on "the ladder," who come together solely because one of them is rich and lonely while the other is poor forthcoming, it is basically stunning that such pairs enjoy better, more successful marriages than most Americans.

What could possibly explain this phenomenon?

Explanation #1: Chauvinistic "Logic"
Now, reading the "Rooshes" of the world provides us with the first possible explanation. Here's what he has to say:
How can American women compete with a girl like Galina (0:30). Answer: they can’t. I’m greatly enchanted by Galina’s body, hair, smile, nails, flinty voice, heels, carefree personality, and—most importantly—the desire to please a man. [...] No wonder American women are so quick to shame men who go abroad for women—there will be less beta males to tolerate their slovenly appearance and entitled attitudes. Comparing Galina to your standard issue American woman is like comparing Grey Goose to moonshine.
And later:
I don’t know where I’ll be in life when I’m past 50, but I’m pleased that one option can be going to Ukraine and marrying a woman half my age who will serve me as long as I can provide for her. I can live with that.
The way this works in "Roosh's" mind is fairly crude: (a) Because he considers himself a real alpha male, and (b) Because his primary interest in women is having them please him, ergo (c) the whole thing makes sense. The women want to please and the man wants to be pleased, so presto!

Add in a plethora of vulgar insults against a straw-man caricature of how Roosh sees American women, and you've basically got the average Roosh post. And make no mistake, Roosh has a sizable following of like-minded men who think that as long as they're bringing home the bacon then they deserve a woman relegated to life-long servitude.

Explanation #2: Common Values
But let's not be stupid here. No group of people who enjoy an 80% marriage success rate gets that way by treating their relationship like indentured sexual servitude. Obviously there is more to the story than just that.

First of all, sexism is disgusting, and shame on Roosh. Second of all, unless you've spent your entire life is some backwoods corner of Nowhere, America, you have probably met plenty of non-American women, which means you are surely aware of the fact that you can't treat any woman like servant and expect a lifelong, happy, successful marriage with her.

Period, end of story. I don't want anybody to contradict me on this. If you even try, I will delete the comment.

Having said that, different cultures have different viewpoints on things like dressing up like a Barbie doll and staying home to take care of the little kids, and maybe engage in some home cooking. In some cultures, it is "an option," in other cultures it is "the only permissible thing to do," and in still other cultures it is "a crime against women." Wherever a person happens to fall on this spectrum, and from whatever culture that person comes, the fact of the matter is that men and women have been finding mates and partners successfully in all of these cultures.

Furthermore, the globe has shrunk. It is remarkably easy to explore an ever-expanding global dating pool using modern technology and affordable airfare.

So, when people find that their attitudes are not well-suited to their domestic surroundings, it not only stands to reason, but it is entirely predictable and logical that they will expand their potential pool of mates until it starts encapsulating those whose values match their own.

What I am trying to suggest is that not only will a "traditional Ukrainian girl" have good success with lonely, rich, patriarchal American men, but nontraditional, strong, and independent-minded African women will have good success with nontraditional men from the UK.

Makes sense, right? Those who have strong Protestant Christian values are going to have more success on ChristianSingles.com [note: I have no idea whether or not that is a real link] than they will on a dating sight for lesbians, and for obvious reasons.

In fact, this is pretty much how the whole dating-and-marriage industry works: By matching people up based on those values they consider most important, and introducing them to each other. A beautiful woman in a poor country who wants a man to be a provider is looking for that which will make her most satisfied in marriage. A lonely American patriarch looking for an attractive "traditional girl" is also looking for what will make him happiest.

Now, if those two people meet each other via a mail-order bridal service, what difference does it make?

To sum up: they might be enjoying successful marriages because they have correctly identified what is most important to them and have actively sought it out.

Explanation #3: Marriage Works For People Who Believe In It, Not For Others
However much sense Explanation #2 might make, there may be an even simpler explanation than all of that.

I live in North America, and I know lots and lots of people who don't really even believe in marriage anymore. These folks aren't particularly religious (although many of them are quite spiritual), have some good experience with long-term relationships, have plenty of personal interests beyond dating, mating, and committing, and generally view marriage as a sort of unnecessary hullabaloo.

What I mean is, because they don't have any religious reason to be married, nor any over-whelming personal desire to ensure that marriage is a part of their lives, they don't assign marriage much importance in life, and they are perfectly happy with this choice.

If such a person eventually does choose to marry, but over time finds that the connection fades or goes haywire, what incentive does such a person have to stay married? Not much. And not only does not staying married not feel like a terrible sin to them, but it basically makes them much better off if they separate.

It might be controversial to say that most of these people don't believe in marriage, but that is basically what we're talking about. These folks are not going to be interested in mail-order marriages because marriage is not so hugely important to them. They will divorce more quickly and readily and they will not relentlessly pursue marriage as some sort of prerequisite for living a fulfilling life.

Meanwhile, those who believe strongly in marriage, will conduct themselves in precisely the opposite way. They will spend a lot of time searching high and low for the right mate, they will make getting married a major priority of their lives and, once married, they will go through hell and high-water if they feel it will prevent a divorce.

As the proportion of people who believe strongly in marriage gradually declines in North America, it stands to reason that those who still feel that way will expand their pool of potential mates until it includes people in other countries who feel the same way about marriage as they do themselves.

This would indeed give us the impression that mail-order marriages are comparatively more successful. In reality, though, all we'd be observing is a simple truth: marriage works best for people who believe in it most.

Meanwhile, the rest of the people in North America are perfectly happy with their own chosen attitudes toward marriage. Their marriage success rate might be lower, but it also matters to them less.

Conclusion
This issue is certainly best served when it is stripped of the inherent sexism with which Roosh has treated it. We're not really talking about how men and women "ought" to behave. We're not talking about the decline of society or the fact that "stuck-up" American "feminists" are "losing out" on lonely old rich guys because they "can't compete" with a Ukrainian girl who wants to dazzle that same person.

No, we're talking about human society sorting itself based on each individual's desire for an appropriate mate. For adherents of more traditional value systems, finding other such adherents is the obvious choice! For adherents of radical American feminism, it is better to seek a mate who values that perspective than it is to try to force Roosh to change his pig-headed world-view.

And in the end, everybody gets the mate they want.

Frankly, this is a major step toward a society that thinks of itself more in terms of individual needs and less in terms of international borders. It is a great thing. It is a beautiful thing! We are growing ever-closer to an open society based on individual desires, in which the imaginary lines between us are ever more irrelevant. Bring it on.