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Jan 25 2006

Women-As-Korean-Kommodity Korner

“Lonely” male Korean farmers are quite the tragic figures. They can’t seem to persuade any Korean women to marry them. Luckily for them, their empathetic government appreciates male privilege. It feels the crushing weight of their undesirability, and has responded by subsidizing a mail-order bride program that allots $6000 per lonely farmer to import some gash from China or Vietnam.

When a guy can’t “woo” any local girl, it’s more or less a certainty that he hasn’t made any Most Eligible Bachelor lists lately. He’s poor, he’s repulsive, his crappy farm is out in the middle of bumfuck, he’s covered in boils, he’s an asshole, a lunatic, a perv, a redneck, or a layabout. Hell, I’m a layabout myself. I know what I’m talking about. People shouldn’t marry us, no matter how well we woo.

The idea that such an arrangement could be viewed by the prospective Chinese chattel as an improvement over their current situation boggles the mind. How bad must your life have to suck for you to delude yourself that matrimony with a strange Korean reject is a good idea?

Well, it’s not like women in China, especially in rural China, are considered human beings or anything. There, like here, the entire social structure hinges on women’s inferiority, but in the Chinese hinterland there are even fewer humorless hairy dyke sex-negative feminists challenging patriarchal authority than we’ve got here. Thus, as is so often the case in backwoods societies, girls are married off to satisfy family obligations, after which it is considered de rigueur to beat the crap out of them as often as possible. So it follows that suicide is the leading cause of death among Chinese women between the ages of 18 and 34. They’d rather drink a couple of pints of rat poison than endure the punishing angst of these meaningless lives. To younger girls who have watched this happen, I imagine a lonely boil-encrusted Korean hayseed might take on the shape of a port in the storm.

Of course it would never occur to anyone to address the mental distress of women by taking steps to abate the social and economic conditions that oblige them in the first place to sell themselves off to lives of rural drudgery enslaved to total strangers thousands of miles from home. Nobody’s gonna give some Chinese girl $6000 to relieve her loneliness.

Although if she’s a virgin—and really, is there any ill a virgin can’t cure?—she’s got a shot at marrying a lonely millionaire pigbag.

Thanks to reader A Fan for the lonely farmer link. And Tisha, too.

36 comments

2 pings

  1. laughingmuse

    Well said as usual, Twisty. Another excellent example of how men’s lives are valued as necessary to being whole and emotionally supported, but women are considered second-class citizens at best, who should expect less.

    The link to the suicide story was incredibly sad. I can’t imagine surviving such abuse and having no way out. How horrible.

  2. Steph

    My first thought was that these women could marry the men, kill them and flee through some underground railway for mail order brides.

    Though the killing part was sort of like that part in the Handmaid’s Tale where the Handmaidens beat a rapist to death.

    I think I’m a wee bit angry (and have a strange fantasy life). I’ll go take out my frustrations on some frisee.

  3. Newbie

    They should do what my partner’s ex-stepmother did. She was a ‘mail-order’ Phillipina bride for my partner’s dad. She married him, got her citizenship (while racking up huge phonebills to her boyfriend back in the Phillipines) and then took him for all he was worth before flying off into the sunset with the previously mentioned boyfriend.

    I have always found that story particularly satisifying.

  4. tisha

    In Europe, women are delaying and denying marriage and childbirth in droves, to the point of negative population growth. Governments are so upset by this they’re offering stipends and tax incentives to get women to marry and breed.

    In Italy this so called “problem” is intensified because as Italian women become moreeducated and career oriented, they prefer progressives from, say, the UK, to the Italian mommas-boys (usually still living at home) who expect their wives to play nursemaid.

    Seems the REAL answer to the Euro population “problem” is to rescue women from the Far East and give them jobs, not husbands. Sheesh.

  5. Liz

    So Twisty, do you have an agent? Let’s see, it’s almost 8:20 in Hollywood right now…if you don’t have at least 50 6-figure offers to buy your screenplay for Beauty and the Boil Butt Boy by noon, there’s something seriously fucked with the universe.

    Oh. Yeah. Right. There IS something seriously fucked with the universe. Today’s reality check brought to you by: the letter ‘P.’ (But when I’m in charge? This will be required reading in all the schools, public and private. Hell, even the fucking home schoolers will be required by law to read it. No exemptions.)

  6. Mandos

    The Korean state is grasping at ways to solve the rural-depopulation problem. Unfortunately, when you want to populate area X, it’s simply too easy to introduce these kinds of measures to bring *cough* the instruments of populating to the area in question.

  7. Hattie

    I just finished reading an old German story about a woman who gets married off to an army officer. Her friend remarks to her, “We get them after they are all worn out from vice and decide it’s time to settle down.” That was in the good old days when you had “respectable” girls and the other kind, when women had no job options other than the sex trade or domestic slavery. I see things improving for Asian women as they become economically more independent.

  8. M

    Totally.

    The only thing in defence of lonely farmers – it can be difficult for them to meet women. Depends on the rurality, how tied you are to the farm etc. This is no excuse for bride-enslavement, of course, but I’d not be too hasty to dismiss them all. This may be because I live in a rural area and they drive big tractors with reckless abandon…

  9. emjay

    Interesting twist, particularly since there is a huge trafficking industry in China for North Korean brides. North Korean women go to China, Chinese women go to South Korea, everyone looking for a way out of her own lousy situation, hoping that something else might be better. Of course, asking the women what they want for themselves isn’t in any articles.

  10. Liz

    The only thing in defence of lonely farmers – it can be difficult for them to meet women.

    But logically there would be an equal number of lonely rural women floating around the pastoral countryside looking for husbands, no? (I live in outer Bumfuck myself, so I know how these things work.) The attractive ones somehow manage to find each other: at 4-H and FFA, at square dances and hoedowns, at horse auctions and pig slaughtering parties. Maybe on their monthly pilgimages to the Wal-Mart in town. (Don’t tell me Korea doesn’t have any Wal-Marts!) (I met all 17 of my husbands at the Wal-Mart.) Anyway, what Twisty’s talking about here, I think, are the dregs, the rejects, the Boil Butt Boys that not even the sheep wanted to go home with. We don’t really know what becomes of the ugly leftover farmgirls. Maybe they get bought by lonely men in China.

  11. CafeSiren

    So, many women are single and unhappy about it. Many men are single and unhappy about it. But how many lonely single women seriously consider finding a mail-order husband? Right: somewhere near zero. But this actually seems like a reasonable choice for many men, and not all of them are in “traditional” (urk!) societies.

    The difference is that most women never doubt the essential humanity of most men. The reverse, it seems, is not so very true.

    BTW, I read the link about the bazillionaire who decided to advertise for a wife. Anyone out there ever seen the Japanese psych-horror movie “The Audition”?

  12. NancyMc

    But logically there would be an equal number of lonely rural women floating around the pastoral countryside looking for husbands, no? …
    Anyway, what Twisty’s talking about here, I think, are the dregs, the rejects, the Boil Butt Boys that not even the sheep wanted to go home with.

    That’s why female poverty and desperation are so vital to the Patriarchy. Without it, unattractive men can’t even rely on prostitution to acquire a live human hole to stick it in.

    I’m working on a theory that monogamous marriage and harsh punishment for adultery were invented to ensure that unattractive men had someone to fuck.

    And of course it’s the genius of the Patriarchy to claim that marriage is an institution that benefits women more than men.

  13. Mandos

    “Anyway, what Twisty’s talking about here, I think, are the dregs, the rejects, the Boil Butt Boys that not even the sheep wanted to go home with.”

    And no one wants to feel sorry for dregs and rejects?

  14. Burrow

    not when they’re buying women

  15. caroline

    OK. Living in VN, used to work for a microfinance bank, so yeah.. On the how shit does your life need to be question… Poverty in China and VN is drastic. Urban poverty results in severe malnutrition, rural is basically subsistance living. The money that’s paid for these girls goes to the family to subserdise the next kids down. Interestingly enough, there IS a market for Viet male order husbands… They’re going to Taiwanese women who are a little on the hefty size ( to contextualisae- I’m a 8-10 US sizing. Here, I’m a XXL, if I’m lucky). Anyway. They can’t get Taiwanese husbands, so they order from Viet Nam. AND! here’s the rub- their family pays the family of the Viet man per kilogram of bride he marries.
    That a government is subserdising is very very disturbing, but this arranged marriage thing happens alot in this part of the world. OK. Maybe not alot, but more than you think it would

  16. Mandos

    “not when they’re buying women”

    Yeah, I know. I was torn between putting an ironic smiley face there and not, but I decided not to.

    But seriously, isn’t dregness and rejection also part of the problem? One tendril, so to speak, of dominance and submission?

  17. Liz

    But seriously, isn’t dregness and rejection also part of the problem? One tendril, so to speak, of dominance and submission?

    Not if these fellows achieved dreghood because they themselves opted to be assholes, pervs, and layabouts with Level Orange hygiene issues.

  18. Lis

    You’re behind the times, Liz. IBTP is already required reading for all homeschoolers in my household.

  19. Mandos

    Not if these fellows achieved dreghood because they themselves opted to be assholes, pervs, and layabouts with Level Orange hygiene issues.

    Oh? And how do people, especially people who live in the back-country, become that way? You can be sure that rich, urban layabouts, pervs, etc, have little trouble finding brides, and have the social, economic, and cultural resources to escape dreghood anyway.

    But ultimately, you don’t ultimately even know that prior to purchasing a bride (and many if not most probably don’t) they were any of those things. Don’t you think that perhaps even though you are a woman and they are men, you’re judging them from a position of power?

  20. jc.

    Although the lonely ruralites quite often are just about as Twisty describes them, the major procreational problem is that the female ruralite is not there. The males tend to be conservative stay at homes, comfortable in their rural habits and hobbies AND have ,incidentaly, in the role of elder son, inherited the ancestoral rice paddy. Female ruralites tend to scamper off to the bright lights of the big city (feminist cheers?)leaving very few women in the area for maintaining a rural population, untill the area is discoverd by city folk who buy the paddies for summer homes and such.
    This whole story could be written about swedens northland.
    Comic tales abound of eccentric rubes trying to import women.

  21. Twisty

    The key issue here is not really whether the lonely farmers are lepers, or even that their government considers it perfectly reasonable to address an economic problem by purchasing human beings. The issue is that so many millions of women subsist in a state of dehumanized poverty. If this were not the case, which is to say, if women had any kind of autonomy, bride-buying and prostitution and other species of human trafficking would find few participants.

  22. Nia

    I find all this puzzling, and I am very surprised that the Chinese governement allows marriageable women to live the country, because I have read reports that explain that a few decades of selective abortion, and baby murdering because of the only child law (families that had girls keep killing them until they have a boy), the present generation has a huge gender imbalance. There simply aren’t enough women for all the men that want to marry. This has caused kidnapping and forced marriage of Chinese girls and women from rural areas, where the only child law has not been so severely enforced and some families have had a few girls before the desired boy.

    And on top of this, China is happy to let rich countries adopt their surplus orphans and abandoned children, preferably the female ones.

    Maybe I’m being too cynical, but if the Chinese government is at the same time encouraging people to exterminate their daughters, encouraging foreigners to adopt the surviving female babies, AND allowing foreigners to marry the ones that miraculously stay and grow up, they are a lot more stupid than I thought.

  23. Liz

    Don’t you think that perhaps even though you are a woman and they are men, you’re judging them from a position of power?

    Wait wait wait. Mandos. Please tell me that I’m misreading you. Surely you’re not implying that you resent the fact that these poor women have managed to retain this tiny sliver of a vestige of “power,” that which they derive from the freedom to still FEEL repulsion (even when they’re not free to act on it) for creepy asshole pervs who smell bad? And that the world won’t be a true bastion of equity until they have relinquished even that? Please. Say it ain’t so.

  24. Mandos

    Surely you’re not implying that you resent the fact that these poor women have managed to retain this tiny sliver of a vestige of “power,” that which they derive from the freedom to still FEEL repulsion (even when they’re not free to act on it) for creepy asshole pervs who smell bad?

    I’m talking about you, not them. Duh.

  25. NancyMc

    . This has caused kidnapping and forced marriage of Chinese girls and women from rural areas, where the only child law has not been so severely enforced and some families have had a few girls before the desired boy.

    Clearly the answer to China’s deficit of marriageable women is polyandry – but expect the Patriarchy to fight that solution tooth and nail.

  26. Ron Sullivan

    How interesting that all those lonely farmers are male. My goodness, you mean that girls aren’t as likely to inherit the fambly farm as boys are? Guess that puts them in a position of power, all right.

    Wonder where they all went.

    (No, Mandos, I know what you meant there. But you and I could jointly and severally deplore till the cows come home and it won’t discommode the female farm commodities market a bit, now will it?)

  27. Mandos

    (No, Mandos, I know what you meant there. But you and I could jointly and severally deplore till the cows come home and it won’t discommode the female farm commodities market a bit, now will it?)

    No, it won’t. But I do think that the demand side of the equation does merit a second look, and a second sympathetic look…at that. Because I suspect that without such insights, you’ll never actually succeed in reducing the demand.

  28. BritGirlSF

    Oh yeah, I’m really feeling the lonely Korean farmer’s pain. Or not.
    The sad thing is that you’re right, marriage to some asocial reject might actually be a step up for some rural Chinese girls. At least they’ll probably get enough to eat, which would not be at all assured at home. This is really the key point to take away from this story – as long as women everywhere live in poverty there will always be a supply of women to be trafficked. If women in China and Vietnam were in a more secure economic position they would be able to tell the Korean government trafficking division to take a hike, but sadly such is not the case.
    Side note – have you ever read anything by Margaret Cho? She claims that the trend towards anorexia in Korea is now so extreme that some women are having cosmetic surgery on their upper arms to minimise the appearance of their arm muscles, as non stick-like arms that are actually useful for doing stuff are regarded as ugly and unfeminine. It’s depressing reading.
    Cafe Siren – yep, saw the movie. I wonder if it indicates something wrong with me that I didn’t find it particularly scary, as advertised, so much as I was thinking “well, that’s what you get if you try to treat finding a wife like buying a car”. Sometimes I suspect I’m not a very nice person. Interesting the way modern Japanese horror movies are trending towards “the patriarchs finally get punished for their transgressions”, isn’t it?

  29. Mandos

    Oh yeah, I’m really feeling the lonely Korean farmer’s pain. Or not.

    If you read what I wrote carefully, you would notice that I never actually suggested anyone do any such thing. Or not.

  30. Twisty

    You will all please note that Mandos very decently writes exactly what he means, always. Aside from his being extraordinarily handsome, it is one of his handiest features. It is a great luxury to encounter such thoughtful precision on the internet.

    I can’t tell you how shocked I was, with the advent of the World Wide Web and email and blogs, to discover that practically nobody can spell, much less organize the fruits of their dissipated minds into written language.

  31. tisha

    Extraordinarily handsome? REALLY??????????????? (femmy giggle)

    ;-)

    LOL

  32. Mandos

    help im being objectified by twisty

  33. Chris Clarke

    lucky bahstid.

  34. Becker

    Late in the game, I know, but I thought maybe this fine explication of women in Chinese propaganda was worth throwing in. It’s really worth reading, if anyone is still paying attention to the thread.

  35. Twisty

    Becker, the link don’t work! The link don’t work!

  36. Becker

    Well poo doo. Here it is for cut and paste fun:

    http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/iron.html

    Sorry!

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