Race and sexuality are clearly important factors in the appeal of white women from the former Soviet bloc. Touted by some as “superior” because of their Caucasian appearance, women from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have experienced unprecedented popularity since the end of the Cold War. Yet these women are of-ten represented as women who are “good mothers,” who seek a better future for their children. The ‘mail-order bride’ phenomenon illuminates interesting details about the nexus between race and gender stereotypes prevalent in the United States.

The mail-order bride industry preys on women who, because of a dire economic and social situation, falsely believe that there is simply no other way to escape their reality. An artificial shroud of legitimacy (read: marriage) masks the exploitative nature of the mail-order bride business. So often these marriages end in, at the least, abuse, and, at the worst, the murder of the victim -- the woman who has been PURCHASED.

The label "mail-order bride" often brings to mind historical images from times long gone. However, this form of trafficking women internationally thrives in the modem global economic system. Operating virtually without regulation, the modem mail-order bride industry prospers by exploiting the power disparities between men and women, the rich and the poor, those from developed economies and those from developing economies. Young women from poor families in economically struggling nations are transported from their homes, like products, to male citizens of economically advantaged nations under the supervision of for-profit companies known as "mail-order bride agencies."

Mail-order bride agencies claim that they are not in the business of trafficking women across national boundaries. However, catalogue descriptions of the women the companies market do not differ much from a department store's listing of merchandise.