Of Mail-Order Brides and “Boys’ Own” Tales: Representations of Asian-Australian Marriages
Of Mail-Order Brides and “Boys’ Own” Tales: Representations of Asian-Australian Marriages Author(s): Kathryn Robinson Source: Feminist Review, No. 52, The World Upside Down: Feminisms in the Antipodes (Spring, 1996), pp. 53-68 Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/1395773 . Accessed: 31/07/2011 01:59 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www. jstor. org/page/info/about/policies/terms. jsp.
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Mail-Order Tales: Brides and ‘Boys’ Representations of Asian-Australian Marriages Kathryn Robinson Abstraet 3 Asiais increasingly entering the Australian into imaginary the nationgrapples as with the issue of ‘Australian identity’. This articleexamines two instances in < whichtheideaof Asiahasbeentakenup in debates aboutmarriage relations S and between andwomen. Asiais a siteof fantasy menin an erawhenthey ° men for feelthat’traditional’ valuesof malepre-eminence the familyare beingunderin mined. his fantasy, In ‘Asia’is knownthrough stereotypic representations, the z stereotypes underlying nature theresponse thepopular the of in media. ,, Keywords X vl mail-order brides;Gillespiekidnapping; marriage; Australian-Asian relations; Australian identity Stereotypes, however inaccurate, one formof representation. fictions, are Like theyare created serveas substitutions, to standing for what is real in Theyarean invention, pretence one knowswhenthe stepsthatwould a that makerealknowing possible cannotbe taken arenot allowed. bellhooks,1992:341) The mail-order bridehas becomea potentsymbolin Australian representations Asia. ‘Mail-order of brides’is the pejorative image which has come to stand for womenwho are Philippine nationalsmarrying Australians. spiteof the factthatthesewomenrepresent verysmall In a proportion the total immigration of intake,in termsof mediacoverage and publiccontroversy is probably next biggest it the immigration issue afterChineseand Indo-Chinese refugees immigrants and fromMuslim countries. ecentpopular A film,The Adventuresof Priscilla,Queen of the Desert, created character a who encapsulated dimension the one of stereotype: sex-crazed, a manipulative ex-bargirl who had trickeda decent, outback Aussiebattler marrying (Thecharacter a parinto her. is ticularly unpleasant notablyso as the filmdealswith transgressive one, sexualities thatthe central in characters dragqueens. )1 are Whyhas this phenomenon attracted much attentionand generated negative so the stereotypes? 53 Media eoverage of ‘mail-order brides’ – orientalist readings o in issue’began appear the revealing new’social this reports Newspaper of frequency in late 1970s when a trendwas discernible an increased women. The prevailing men Australian and Filipino between marriages media responsewas negative,drawingon powerfulrepresentations Filipinas have discourse. as whichSaid(1978) has identified orientalist as withinthis discourse meek,docile slaves,oriental been constituted but with shadypasts,passiveand manipulable, also grasping beauties The power queues. o usingmarriage jumpimmigration and predatory, tropes: on fromits reliance orientalist of the mediaimagewas derived arbitrary for sensuality, lackof respect the individual, a beauties, steamy such as ‘Mail OrderBridesin Vice exerciseof power. (See headlines Trap’in the SydneyMorningHerald(Prior,1987). ) The term ‘mailof storecatalogues, the conup order’conjures imagesof department which commodity on sumerselecting the basisof an imagea consumer ln y 1S necessarl passlve tne acqulsltlon. . . . . . . f elements fearand we theserepresentations seethecontradictory Within Australian as (1990)has identified characterizing whichHamilton desire in of of imaginings Asia. Theelements desireare easilyrecognizable the beauties aresex slavesto Australian who compliant imageof the luscious with mediadiscussion, Fearis evidentin the oftenhysterical husbands. But of prophecies gloomand doomaboutthesemarriages. 2 the fearis where this also of miscegenation: is not likeotherformsof immigration in Heretheyare introduced the most can the newcomers be ghettoized. ivingbirthto Australian households, remoteregionsinto Australian to analysis relates the transcendence also Desirein Hamilton’s children. identity, thiscase,desire in of heart’ Australian of the fearof the ’empty of familyvalues,a fearof the bankruptcy our own confor traditional socialforms. temporary bride’has in the of hold this stereotype the ‘mail-order The powerful revealed thepresscoverage in was consciousness spectacularly Australian eventsat the time of the deathof soap-opera the surrounding real-life in LangHancock 1991.
His widow, mining magnate Australian Western bride,or even’mail-order to referred as a Filipino Rose,was constantly par the represented stereotype excellence, marriage The bride’. Hancock roughdiamond, to Asianbeautymarried an old Australian a younger elements It forays marriage. drewon powerful into of the survivor earlier rich the of the discourse, factthathe was spectacularly andthatshe was and froma poor background had once workedas his houseallegedly to 1992). Disclaimers the effectthat 1990; Heinrichs, keeper(Shears, had familyin the Philippines she is froma wealthyand well-connected ‘ 4 no effecton thepublicdiscussion theissue. TheHancock of case,withits contestation between widowand Hancock’s the daughter froma former marriageover considerable wealth (Riley and Humphries,1992), endorsed suspicion the that Filipinas marryAustralians money,not for love,a taken-for-granted of Australian basis marriages. In a bizarreepisode,Rose Hancockappeared the Midday Show on (1992) to refutethe allegations. Part of the interview was conducted froma bathful milk,perhaps an ironiccomment the imageof of as on the sultryexoticbeauty whichshe was refuting. Australia in the region The growthin the number Australian marrying of men Asianwomenis connected the growthin sex tourismin the region,givenan initial to impetus the ‘R & R’ offered US soldiers by to fighting Vietnam, in and boostedin its phenomenal growthby masstourism consequent the on development the wide-bodied Media headlinespromotedan of jet. image of a commercial trade in sex akin to slavery,for example, ‘Marriage Market’ the SydneyMorningHerald (Brown, in 1980);’Sella Visa,BuyA Girl’in the Bulletin (Lees,1988).
The WeekendAustralian featured ‘Mail-Order Misery’: Thebrides tendto comefrompoorand lowermiddle-class backgrounds and to be motivated chiefly economic by factors…. Butthereare otherfactors involved somecases,suchas poormarriage in prospects theirown society in becausethey are too old, singlemothersor formerprostitutes…. The bottomlinein manymail-order marriages the husband’s is inability finda to partner hisownsociety. inability be a result geographic in This can of isolation but oftenit arisesfromnegative personality traits. . . [heis] shunned the by womenof his own society….
About5000 mail-order brides in Queenslive land,wheretheymakeup 95 percentof the Filipino migrant community, a muchhigher proportion in otherStates. than (Lowe, citedin Jackson, 1989) The stereotypes encountered the everydaydiscussionof the issue in reflected fundamental a ‘truth’: thecurrent in globalsystem, whereindustrialcapitalist countries ourownconsume disproportionate like a amount of wealth,the accident birthmeans thesemenoccupya particular of that locationin the contemporary world as male members a ‘capitalist of metropolis’, economically the dominant society.
An Australian way of marriage? The newspaper reports focusedon the fact that in manycasesthe men weremeeting theirbrides through introduction agencies whichsometimes 55 operated ‘pen pal clubs’. Magazines, as Australian Singles, as such o featured of photographs brief pages and biographies Filipinas of seeking =’penpals’witha viewto matrimony: thecharacterization hence of the O ‘mail-order bride’. was at a timewhenintroduction This agencies (as 3 well as newspaper columns radioprogrammes up to find and set > partners) lesscommon theyaretoday. ere than Hence, hadthe they F stench illegitimacy failing conform whatwasassumed of by to with to s bethe’norm’ marriage of arising of theromantic out attachmenttwo of freeindividuals. A feature themedia of discussion thehint therespective was that partners couldnot achieve theirdesired through end legitimate means. Hence therewas a stresson the characteristicsmenas olderthantheir of brides (old,uglymenwithno currency the market on getting young, beautiful women practisingkindof hypergamy, is, ‘marrying a that up’ into a higher status category). omen, contrast, seeking The by in a wayout of poverty marryingforeigner a developed by a from country, wereseento be acting an illegitimate (and on basis practisingkindof a economic hypergamy). apparent This transgression the ideology of of romantic allowed women be branded grasping love the to as opportunists, nothing better thanprostitutes. moresympathetic The version hadthem sexslaves, as forced selltheir to bodies (obviously) in loveless marriages. , The mediadebate drawn has powerfully discourses gender on of in contemporary Australian society. lany themedia In of stories, men the seeking Filipino brides havebeenquoted linking motivation as their to negative feelings about Australian women. example, manfrom For a an agency whicharranges thesemarriages quoted saying, was as ‘many menwanted Asian wivesbecause werefed up withthe demands they Australian women makeandtheirunfaithfulness’ (Brown, 1980). Here is an alternative discourse: Asianwomen trulyfeminine, the are and Eastis a source traditional of family values. Thisdiscourse holdsa promise family andstable of life marriage canbetapped marrywhich by inganAsian bride. ssumption these The that marriages so evidently are not basedon romantic is a powerful love challenge assumptions to in our own society aboutthe connections between romantic and love marriage. Changing gender relations Australia in Thepower theimage the’mail-order canalsobe related of of bride’ to changing gender relations marriage and relations Australia, as in such the large-scale of women the workforce the post-Second entry into in 56 WorldWarera, the introduction the mid-1970sof no-faultdivorce, > in limitedstate supportfor womenin the formof singleparentpensions and so on.
In contemporary Australiaa significantproportionof ‘ marriages breakdownandwomenhavetended retain to controlof their ‘ childrenin such cases. Marriageand family relationsare amongst 3 the most hotly debatedissues in the contestation about male-female > relations our own society. in Australian women’s response the media > to reports reflectsthe way the issues take their meaningfrom these tensionsbetweenmen and women. For example,a womanwrote to The Australianaftera Four Corners television programme dealt with these issues, expressing anger at the attitudesexpressed men her by marrles Fllplnas: to . . I stronglyresentthe statementby the Aussiemales,that Australian women had somethingto learn from the subservient Filipinowomen. In my opinion these lazy bastards. . . are not prepared spend any energymakingan Australian to marriage work . . . and so importa meek, obedientslave to be theirwife. (Bacon,1979) Themenarerepresented failures slobswho taketheeasyway out, as and incapable shaping to a red-blooded of up Aussiegirl. Where are the Filipinas in the debate?
Suchcomments drawon the presumption womenas a grouphavea that transparent of common set interests, thata (politically so conscious) First World whitewomancan speakfor all women,so thatthe Filipino brides are regarded sisterslettingthe side down. Theydo not take account as of the varyingsituations interests womenwho occupydifferent and of positionsin the global system. The assumed rightof white womento speakforThird World women, assumptions theuniversal the of character of patriarchy the unity of women’spoliticalstrugglehave been and challenged. 4 Thewomenthemselves beenlargely have silenced thesedebates. n There havenot beennumbers highprofilearticles of reporting theirstated on motivations, any consideration broader or of issuessuchas the assumptions underlying marriage the Philippines. 5 is despitethe fact in This that in recentyearsFilipinas haveestablished advocacy organizations to counter stereotype. television the A drama Mail OrderBrideendeavoured to represent theirpoint of view. Set againstthe background white of Australian racism a country in town,it revealed contradictory the nature of the way the structural issuesare playedout for individuals, very a sensitiveportrayal which challenges stereotypes, shows their the but power.
For example,the wife is rapedby a ‘mate’who earlierin the 5i7 > o = O 3 > F s uw film tells other ‘mates’that all womenfrom the Philippines marrying Australians ex-prostitutes will takehis moneyandrun. In spite are who of the growing feelingbetween manand his wife,we see how these the attitudes awayat himand so, for example, firstassumes she eat he that has beenunfaithful, only recognizes rapewhenhe sees she has and the beenbeaten. The filmalso explores conflictoveruse of the contrathe ceptivepill – the wife is a Catholic and differing assumptions about dutyto one’sfamily (ABC 1985).
TV, Academic research: challenging the stereotypes This mediadebateand the negativeimagesportrayed, especially the negatlvelmages ot Flllplnowomen, led to concernedcommentln academic journals, particular seriesof articlesbeginning 1982 in a in in The AustralianJournal of Social Issues. The firstof these,by David Watkins, university a bureaucrat was himself who married a Filipina, to challenged stereotype the meek,submissive the of beautyby discussing the academicliterature, especiallythe social psychologyliterature.
His agenda to disabuse was would-be suitors whoseimages Filipinas, of and hence expectations, were being shaped by the media debates. He countered negativestereotype the with another, womanwho the appeared be compliant to because herfemininity was accomplished of but in the covertexercise power. was askedto writea comment his of I on paper(Robinson, 1982). . . . … . . . . . I founda dearth factual of information aboutthe women,and the men seekingthem as partners. The mediareportscited by Watkins were basedon interviews with a few individuals. elevant The government departments the timeImmigration Foreign (at and Affairs) no data had on the women or the marriages, althougha ForeignAffairssocial worker gaveme herpersonal opinionoverthe telephone whichdrewon the prevailing mediadiscourse the ugly,old Australian couldn’ of who get himself brideand the poor,dumbslave,the Filipina a beauty. Most intriguing a letterto the Sydney Morning Herald froman expert, was the DeputyDirectorof the Marriage Guidance Bureau(see Watkins, 1982). His letterseemedto indicate that thesewomenwerepresenting as a clientgroup. WhenI followed up with the Marriage this Guidance Council, was not so.
His letterwas all conjecture, it another projection of the samestereotypes aboutthe dangers cross-cultural of marriage. By the late 1980s a seriesof studieshad beencarried whichaimed out to discoversomething about these womenand their situation, beginningwith Charita Ungson’s study(1982). Most took as theirfocusthe powerful stereotype the mail-order of brideand endeavoured rebutit to 5l 8 (see,for example, Cooke,1986; Jackson Flores,1989). One of the and most interesting, basedon an analysis the 1986 census,was suppleof mented a survey Filipinos Australia by of in (Jackson, 1989).
Thisstudy demonstrates degree fantasy the of whichunderpins stereotypes. the The picture whichemerges of womenin theirthirties, is average 30 to age 31, marrying Australian men who are, on average,11. 7 years older According the censusfigures,Filipinas to livingin Australia were ten timesmorelikelyto havea tertiary qualification Australian than women in general. The mediadebatehad focusedon the personal qualities of the men marrying Filipinas and the assumed expectations about their brides hencehadbeenlocated theterrain the shifting and in of definitions of genderin our own society.
Censusdata revealed that Filipinas in mixed marriage households tend to show a greaterconcentration in miningareas,areaswith unbalanced ratios,regions sex whosecharacter has beencreatedby earlier wavesof migration wheresinglemen have beenselectively recruited cheaplabourfor Australian as industry: ‘Could one not then arguethat the Filipinas prepared live and succeedin to remotecommunities the new heroinesof the outbackand to be are admired (Jackson, [? ]’ 1989: 180).
The generalpicturehe presents, of the demographic socialprofileof the peopleinvolvedin Filipinoand Australian marriages, mirrored findings othercommunity the of surveys (seeUngson,1982; Cooke,1986). In 1987 therewas anotherarticlein the AustralianJournal of Social Issues countering new dimension the mediaimage;the claimthat a to thesemarriages brokedown morefrequently Australian than marriages. An examination FamilyCourtstatistics otherdata enabledthe of and authors conclude therewas no evidence thesemarriages to that that are inherently moreunstable thanthe Australian norm(Chuaet al. 1987). In spiteof the fact that a lot of information come into the public has domainrefuting aspectsof the stereotype, has none the less gained it a powerfulhold. Filipinasliving in Australia reportthat they now feel ‘tarred with the brush’, people’s that attitudes reflect assumption the that all Filipinas ‘mail-order are brides’, that they fit the stereotype in termsof theirpersonal qualities, theirmotivations the negative and view of their partners. They feel malignedand spurnedby the pejorative stereotype.
Paradoxically, probablyas a result of media attention,both the Australian Philippines and governments have tightened procedures, up so thatthe smallpercentage meetthrough who ‘mail-order agencies’ and pen pal clubs is decliningeven further(Payne,1990). However,the stereotype not been’revamped’ linewiththischange. has in 5g O e Whyhas this stereotype gained such a hold? The issue has resoundedwith meaningsderived from the contestations in contemporaryAustralian society about the nature of male-female with debates which have intersected relations,and the natureof marriage, of relationswith Asia.
Constructions genderare signifiabout Australian cant in both ethnic identitiesand their counterpoint,ethnic stereotypes. In a recent article dealing with reportingon Asia, Peter Mares cites an article from the British newspaperthe Independent:’Love hotels are spread all over Asia, where the supposed christian ideal of life-long fidelity to one’s spouse is replaced by an easy-going, matter-of-fact approach to sex’ (cited in Mares, 1993).
Said (1978) argues that the West portrays the East as an ideal and unchangingabstraction. Orientalismis a way of dealing with the Orient ‘by making statements about it, authorisingviews of it, describingit, by teachingit, settlingit, ruling over it . . . an acceptedgrid for filteringthe Orient into Western (Said,1978:7). LauraNader (1989)extendsher argument consciousness’ women as a to show how the orientalistgrid is importantin maintaining subordinateclass in both the Orient and the Occident.
She stressesthe importanceof the use of comparisonin genderconstruction. ‘Critiqueof of the other may be an instrument control when the comparisonasserts a position of superiority'(Nader, 1989:234). That is, while it may be bad here it is worse somewhere else, for example, in the Orient. So images of women in other societiesreinforcenorms of subordination in our own (Nader, 1989: 347) through the process of constructing Hence the negativestereotypesof women in other positionalsuperiority. iscourse. ‘The culturesare significantin both orientalistand patriarchal positional superiorityof Westernwomen as symbolic of the positional of superiority the West is a deeply ingrainedidea’ (Nader,1989:329). The particularconstructionof the ‘mail-orderbride’, the sensual sex slave, and the counterview of the oriental bride as the salvation of traditional family values, can be understood as constructionsof the other in the Australianquest for identity.
The negativestereotypewhich is the prevailingone relates both to issues of female subordinationin of our own society and to the ideologicaljustification our position as an affluentcountryin a region of the world wherepovertyis still the norm. – o e z 2, TheGillespiecase – a battle of images We can develop the idea of understandingthe representationsof Asians in marriagesto Australiansas being instancesof orientalistand patriarchal readings by looking at another recent media issue, the Gillespie case, which was also about tensions in the constitution of 6C D context.
The Gillespie case confamilies, heightened a cross-cultural in married a Malaysian, the to and cernedan Australian womanformerly of between Australian the caseemerged against background tensions the and Malaysiangovernmentover the television series Embassy, a veiled classicallyorientalisttext with easternpotentates,submissive lurkingbeneaththe surface women,and politicaland sexualdisorder had nobletitle, and (see Mitchell, 1993). The ex-husband a Malaysian media as ‘the prince’. was consistently referred in the Australian to his from In July 1992 he was reported have’kidnapped two children to their Australian other who had custody during an access visit’. The headline’MalaysianPrinceVanishesWith Two Little Aussies’ 1992: 1). Kidnappings appeared the SydneyMorningHerald (Hewett, in bornparent occurso frequently that of children an estranged by foreign on the Australian government tightenedup restrictions parents has this of takingchildren overseas. no othercaseshaveattracted degree But publicity. cast. Mrs Gillespie The earliestpress reportswere in an orientalist back’because Islamic expressed fearsaboutnot gettingthe children her law will be biased against her’.
Invokingher alleged sentenceof (Jacqueline six strokesof the cane for leavingthe prince,Mr Gillespie Gillespie’s secondhusband) said,’formy wife, livingin a fundamentalist Islamic societyas a member a royalfamilywas likegoingbackthree of and (Hewett, 1992). hundred years. It was verybrutal repressive’ the within On 16 JulyMr Gillespie claimed prince’wouldbe regarded as the fundamentalist Islamcommunity a hero, rescuinghis children were veryadeptat fromthe infidels’ (Cornwall, 1992a). The Gillespies promoting these orientalist imagesin the mediain the serviceof their of cause.
Theprince challenged storyof the six strokes the caneand the had as The criticized fact thathis children beenbaptized Christians. the as Malaysian minister law was reported sayingthat underMalaysian custody because hadconverted she to law MrsGillespie surrendered had interview, representative a Christianity (Cornwall, 1992b). In a television of the Malaysian government askedaboutthe case- the interviewer was (Jana Wendt) focusing the six strokesof the canestory- and about on invokinga negativeand threatening the threatof femalecircumcision, imageof Islam.
The orientalist imageswere used to greateffectiveness 1992 issueof the by Mrs Gillespie puttingher case. The September in EveryWoman’s Australian Woman’sWeeklyhad the coverline ‘Living Gillespie, WorstNightmare’ emblazoned acrossa pictureof Jacqueline of in holdinga child’stoy, with framedphotographs the children the background. The interviewwith JacquelineGillespiewas a classic and (Duncan, 1992) orientalist aboutharems, text beatings sexualcruelty s1 O o zeo O 3 >
As in the representation mail-order of brides, images thoseof a the are sensual orientin whichwomenhavea subordinate position oddswith at the elevated positionof western women:the harem,violentoppression of women,andso on. Againwe saw the imageof the olderman(in this case, the Asian) marrying younger(Eurasian-Australian) the woman. Thereare sharedimageswith manyof the Filipino stories- of forced and/orviolentsex andpolygamy Lowe,1988:3; Taylor, (see 1990:18). The return of a father’s right?
However, therewas another element the mediacoverage; manyof of in the stories,the assertion the father’s of rightwas a dominant image. It resonated with debates aboutmen’srightsand theirchildren, of one the issuesfor the contemporary men’smovement. example, ABC For an programme featured exclusive an interview with the princebackhome in Malaysia. He was given a sympathetic hearing,at one stage the interviewer asking,’is thatyourchildren can hearin the background I theysoundjustlike mine'(Law Report, 1992).
At aboutthe sametime the ABCalso hostedan AustraliaTalksBack (1992)programme, where listeners were invitedto telephone with theiropinionson the Gillespie case,explicitly linking controversial to the ongoingcritique the issue of the FamilyCourt,by men who felt it had takenaway theirrightsto theirchildren. This had the overtones a cautionary ‘Thiscould of tale: happento you, girls, if you aren’tmore considerate men’srights. ‘ of Therewas the juxtaposition storiesin The Australian,linkingthe of kidnapping issuesof custody men(Fife-Yeomans, to for 1993). InOctober 1993, the princewroteto WeekendAustralian,linkinghis case to that of othermen treated badlyby the Family Court,thanking the ‘all Australian fathers who have beensupportive’ his case (Shah,1993). of TheABCRadioNews (1993)broadcast as sayinghe hadbeenconhim tactedby manyAustralians dissatisfied the Family with Court. ) When the princere-emerged Malaysia,there were happy family in picturesof him with the childrenin newspapers and on television (Harris,1992; Gleick,1993).
Somenewspapers recounted ‘heroic’ the effortsthe princewent throughto reclaimhis children, showingan admiration the military-like for planning his escapeandavoidance of of authority (see, for example, Connolly, 1992;Wright,1992b). Through suchrepresentations, princewas rescued the fromthe orientalist stereotype:the loving father,the wily strategist overcoming odds to be all reunited his children. with 62t Theprince consistently givena voice,for example, the radio has been in interview referred above,but particularly the earlypartof 1993, to in y following announcement an whenthe issueagainhit newsheadlines from that the Australian government they would seek his extradition Malaysia(Stewart al. , 1993). This secondroundshowedboth sides et on images the partof adeptly exploiting mediain termsof orientalist the imageson the partof the prince. In an the Gillespies, occidentalist and was interview the SydneyMorningHerald,the prince askedaboutthe in children’s relations with his secondwife. He repliedthat he had been and took to her stepmother, when amazed how quickly daughter at his givesme this kindof he askedher why,she said:’Nobodyin Australia attention. s therewhen I got [sic] to bed, at homewhen I come She 1993:23). homefromschool'(Harris, Sixty Minutes. on programme The princewas interviewed the television wherehe brokehis ex-wife’s He was askedaboutthe allegedincident correctly, she nosewith a coat hanger because had not hunghis trousers The in and which had been reported the Women’sWeekly interview. In the denialof the incident. discussing prince’s answerwas an indirect who sociologyclass,the only student programme an introductory with reported as saying,’YesI did hit her, him had watched programme the It but I was withinmy rightsas thatis our custom’. eemsthe student’s influenced (in this case)the orientalist by hearing moreprofoundly was said. stereotype it was by whatwas actually than was with TheSixty Minutesinterview introduced a claimthatthe prince his to had not had sufficient opportunity put his case,and stressed right to be heard(Sixty Minutes, 1993). Thisis a rightwhichhas neverbeen reclaiming his The father stressed ‘mail-order for brides’. sentimentalized as rightswas not subjectto the same disapprobation the mail-order So the or motives. hereas bridemarrying economic otherspurious for the Filipinabridesare demonized, princevery quicklyturnedfrom a his to demonwho had kidnapped children take thembackto a life of into tyrannyand Islamicfundamentalism a kind of ‘Boys’Own’ hero reclaiming rights a father. his as Conclusion of in Both of the cases discussed this articlerelateto the complexity heterosexual marriage and familyrelationsas they are revealedin a relations. cross-cultural context. Whatis at stakeis a view of conjugal of the case Thediscourse surrounding Gillespie is revealing the discourse aboutFilipinas. he identifies marriage In The Sexual Contract (1988), CarolPateman found in contemporary contractas criticalto the form of patriarchy two freeand capitalist societies. Ratherthan beinga contractbetween 63 equalindividuals, argues is themodethrough she it whichthecommunity of menregulate theiraccessto women. Thisfraternal of patriarchy form or ‘brother right’in herviewsuperseded olderformof patriarchy an or ON fatherright which was characteristic societieswhose fundamental of 3 socialformwas basedon relations status,not contract. nalysis of Her > is instructive the understanding the issuesof the reasonfor the for of F differing representations the ‘mail-order of bride’on the one hand,and E the prince, ‘Boys’Own’hero,on the other. the o zeh O Welivein an erawhere marriage beingredefined, partin response is in to the changingsocial role of women, and specificfeministdemands. Changes such as no-faultdivorce,women’sentryinto the workforce, and (notionally) equalpay,are undermining manyof the underpinnings of marriage a patriarchal as institution. The prevailing stereotype of Filipinas mainlynegative the ountervailing is but discourse, stereothe type of the Asianwomanas a repository traditional of familyvalues, can be understood termsof debates in aboutrelations between and men womenin our own society. The censorious tone towardsthe parties involved Australian/Filipina in marriages indicates the phenomenon that is seento represent undermining thedominant an of myths oursociety in aboutsexualattraction romantic and love as the appropriate basisfor marriage. 6 Pateman not dealwiththeemotional does aspects marriage romantic of love, sexualattraction, parents’ feelingsfor children, However, etc. s RobertaHamilton(1978) exploresin her work, notionsof romantic lovehavebeencritical the formulation contemporary to of constructs of marriage. argues as production She that increasingly became located outsidethehome,lovebecame elevated thechiefideological as underpinning of marriage. Hencewe can readsomeof the hostility the ‘mail-order to bride’as the challenge such arrangements to the ideological pose construction marriage a lovematch. of as Muchof the negative publicity aboutno-faultdivorceand the Family Courthas focusedon the issuesof men’srightsto theirchildren.
The prince represented bothpositive negative is in and readings his actions of as the bearer a culture of whichenforces stronger a notionof father right thanour own. In thisinstance Islamic Malaysia becomes site of desire a for menwho see the erosionof theirrightsto theirchildren through a weakening the powerof the marriage of contract centralto fraternal formsof patriarchy. Thedebate aboutfamily relations whichengage withthe’other’ to be has understood onlyin termsof orientalist not construction the other, of but also in termsof patriarchal constructions the heartof the constitution at 64 W of ourselves andtherein its power. ies Thuswe cansee the connections > ‘mail-order > betweenthe seemingly disparate imagesof the subjugated bride’and the heroic princeassertinghis right as a father. Asia is ‘ of > constituted a site in our imaginary as wherethe tensions traumas and our own rapidly changing worldbecome playedout. The subtextin the = Filipino bride’s debateis, ‘women herehavegot it good’;in the Gillespie > c. caseit is, ‘males herecan haveit bewer’. vb Notes of Kathryn Robinson a SeniorResearch is Fellowin the Department Anthropology,Research School of PacificStudiesand Asian Studiesat Australian with NationalUniversity, Canberra. esearch beenconcerned issuesof Her has of development Indonesia, particular effects the development a multiin in the of nationalowned nickelmine. Her most recentwritingsfocus on authorized modelsof femininity, including promotion contraceptive Her work the of use. nations) takesas its starting pointrelations between Australia otherwealthy (and andthe AsiaPacific region. 1 Theimage forcenot justin thepopular has media. recent A DavidWilliamson his play,Money and Friendscontained joke aboutthe manwho divorced a expensive Australian wife, got anotherfrom the Philippines was now and copingwith her desireto bringher familyto live with him.
In her book put The Sexual Contract,Carole Pateman comments, ‘Wives no longer up are by for auction Australia, in Britain the U. S. buttheycan be bought mailand order fromthe Philippines’ (1988:190). of 2 In recent yearstherehavebeensomewell-publicized violentincidents wife husbashing murder, and whereFilipinas havebeenthe victims Australian of such bands. Thesecaseshavealso beenreported a manner in whichimplies than these violence morelikelyto be a feature thesemarriages, is of rather proportion marriages exhibiting violence the whichis a feature a significant of of all Australian marriages for example, (see, Dempsey, 1991;Dibben,1995). The negative representation Rose Hancock of was so strongthat the (then) of RaceRelations Commissioner, Moss,criticized mediainvocation Irene the received little the stereotype the ‘mail-order of bride’, although comments her attention fromthe media. 4 For example, debatesin Spare Rib, AustralianFeministStudies and on the ComingOut Stow. 5 Thereis an expectation marriages be arranged, thatin the case that will and of arranged marriages, parentshave a responsibility duty to consider and ideology economic issueswhichin our societyareobfuscated the powerful by of romantic love. i5 6! >@ s ” ° , – In Southeast therearetraditions romantic andsexualpassion, Asia of love for example,in courtchronicles the Mababtaratain Indonesia. like However, untilrecenttimesit was not usuallyassumed that this was an appropriate basisfor marriage. Marriage arranged was between families the bride the of and groom,with an eye to constituting successful household; was a new it assumed desireand passionwoulddevelopbetween husband wife after and thewedding. z . References l ABC RADIO (1993)Newsbroadcast, RadioNational October. 18 ABC TV (1985)Mail OrderBride,27 October. AGE, THE (1992a) ‘Fortune forgedin iron’ (Obituary LangleyGeorge for 16 Hancock 1909-1992), March: 28 21. (1992b)’Hancock be buried thehatchet not’,4 April: may but is 5. AUSTRALIA TALKS BACK (1992) ‘TheGillespie case’,Talkback programme, ABCRadioNational, August. 4 AUSTRALL4N (1983)”‘Mail order” mismatches’, Editorial, January: S 6. BACON, C. (1979)Letter theEditor, to Australian, 4 October: 8. BOER, C. (1988)’Are You Looking Fora Filipino Wik8′: A Study of Filipina Australian Marriages A Research Project the Anglican of General SynodSocial Responsibilities Commission the International and Affairs Commission, Sydney: General Synod Office. BROWN,M. 1980)’Growth theFilipino in marriage market spectacular’ Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September: 10. CADZOW, (1982)’Whysomebrides tearful’ J. are Australian, 17 March: 9. CHIO-NUNEZ, (1988)A Study of tte General Settlement Status of tte Filipino J. Immigrant Women in New South Wales (February): 1-33. CHUA, F. et al. (1987)’DoesAustralia havea Filipina brides problem? ‘ Australian Journal of Social Issues Vol. 22, No. 4: 573-83. CONNOLLY, (1992)’Boldkidnap A. dash’Daily Mirror, 9 October: 7. COOKE, M. (1986)’Australian-Filipino F. marriages the 1980s:themythand in thereality’, Viviani in (1986).
CORNWALL, (1992a) D. ‘Govtoffers to Australian aid mother’ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July: 5. (1992b)’Govthas deserted children family’Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July: 3. DEBELLE, (1993)’Prince escape’ P. of Newcastle Herald, 9 January: and 39. 1 DEMPSEY, (1991) ‘Filipino S. brides: elevenkilledin Australia’ Herald, Sun 14 July:12-13. DIBBEN,K. (1995) ‘Murder mail-order’ by Sunday Mail, 26 February: 95. 66, DUNCAN, S. (1992) ‘WhyI had to escapemy life with a prince’ Australian Women’s Weekly, September: 8-11, 49. s w_tYT x _S 4 n s * 14 * | . . .
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