365 Days of Women Writers

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Archive for the ‘Nell Freudenberger’ Category

Day 27: An Arranged Marriage by Nell Freudenberger

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I used to work with a guy who liked to read mail-order bride catalogues and it was ever so creepy. Oh let’s face it, he was one of the creepiest guys I ever worked with. And at some point I read this super creepy article in Harper’s.

This is a mail order bride story told from the bride’s point of view.

Amina had sworn Sharmila to secrecy on the subject of AsianEuro.com, and then they’d had a lot of fun, looking through the photos in the “male gallery.” Sharmila always chose the youngest and best-looking men; she would squeal and gasp when she came across one who was very old or very fat.

That’s about when my cultural appropriation radar activated, because really what does Freudenberger, a Harvard-educated American, know about being an Asian woman seeking a foreign marriage? I’m not qualified to comment on it either, but it made me deeply uncomfortable for a privileged American to try to unpick the other side of the mail-order bride story.

At the end of the day I found it a well-written story with fleshed out characters, and that made it all the worse. The story feels almost designed to give comfort to Westerners: to tell us that the whole thing isn’t that bad, starting right from the title.

Yeah, I think I need to be sick now. I encourage you to read the Harper’s article and not this story.

Written by Chance

October 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm