How the Internet paints a rosy glow of Asian brides Millions of men trawl for mates, but a Thai researcher 'can't find love'
Hi guys! Are you looking for an Asian bride? Then just type in the keywords "Thai bride" on any Internet search site and in seconds you'll receive 1.2 million hits. About half of those will be profiles of women from the Philippines.
Women from Thailand and the Philippines are the most popular among Western men seeking an Asian wife.
Images of Thai woman portrayed on the sites are often accompanied by descriptions like "sweet" and "spoils and treats her husband like a king".
Filipinas are noted for their beauty, grace, charm and loyalty as well as being family-oriented, resourceful and devoted.
Additional qualifications in the mail-order bride stakes are the Filipina's Christian faith and cultural compatibility.
Internet-order brides have been popular since the mid-1990s and over the past few years Asian brides have become sub-plots on Western TV sitcoms. For example, there are "Miss Pattaya" and "Miss Tingtong" in the UK, said Dr Romyen Kosaikanont, who is researching "Women in Southeast Asia: Internet-order brides".
Romyen paid Bt1,500 for membership of a website and described herself as a woman different from the images generally portrayed.
These are: "I do not smoke or drink and I am very sincere and loving."
"I am marriage-minded. If I find the right man, I will live anywhere and do anything to make him happy."
"I am a good cook but maybe a little shy at first."
Romyen introduced herself as a "fun-loving girl with a good sense of humour". She wrote that she enjoyed travelling, discos, sport and reading, posting her own untouched photograph.
"It has been five months already but no man has contacted me," said Romyen. She added her photograph had never being displayed on the website's main page.
However, this matchmaking website is more flexible about the women it advertises, she said.
The first site she contacted rejected her because she was overweight.
"The first website told me to reduce my weight by about 10 kilograms and also suggested I retouch my photo," the researcher said.
Most sites offering brides were often operated by Thai-women-and-Western-men couples who claimed to have found happiness in cross-cultural marriage and wanted to help others achieve the same.
Some said their business was to "to bring genuinely lonely, like-minded people together to achieve wholesome, meaningful lifetime relationships".
But Romyen - who teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Women's Studies at Chiang Mai University - saw inequality for male and female clients. She noted wording such as "our ladies, your choices, your bride".
In profiles, male clients would explain what they wanted from a bride while Thai women would discuss what they were like rather than what they wanted from a man, Romyen explained.
On Internet-order bride services, she said, the femininity of Asian women was determined by Western men.
Meanwhile, matchmakers used Thai men as an explanation of "why Western husbands are needed for Thai woman". They note: "Thailand is a male-orientated society. There is a strong bias towards men. Many Thai men tend to be very promiscuous - often having more than one wife. Not good husband material."
What was more, they have created a myth dividing women from different parts of the world, she explained.
Asian women are portrayed as "submissive" while Western women are stereotyped as "emancipated".
"Her self-centredness, her ridiculously high expectations, her sense of entitlement, her high maintenance, superficiality and stuck-up attitude, her snootiness and her sense of superiority" were reasons Western men spurned women of their own cultures.
Some websites noted Western women's "princess" syndrome meant "she will always think she is better than you and she deserves and is entitled to whatever she wants from you".
In the eyes of feminists, Romyen sees Internet brides as a "reproduction of patriarchy
"It was a match of lost femininity in the West against an economic and social upgrade for Asian women ," she said.
The Nation Chiang Mai