I'm trying to decide what I think of this Ukrainian woman's story of her journey to the U.S. as a mail-order bride. On the one hand, I'm happy that she seems to have a happy relationship with someone who's supportive of her educational and career plans. I'm happy that she escaped all of the negatives commonly associated with international marriage brokerages.
On the other, there are parts of this story that make me more nervous. The "few years on you, girl" struck me as skeevy. And while I appreciate that he arranged the separate bed for her during their first meeting, just in case she wouldn't want to sleep with him, it also rubbed me the wrong way. That is, the presumption should be that he wouldn't want to sleep with her right away. It shouldn't be that she presumptively want to sleep with him, and that the extra sofa should be there just in case?
Loeb's comment on women not being able to get non-secretarial jobs in Ukraine also stood out. I believe everything she writes about how poor everyone in Ukraine is. But one of my second cousins -- who's old enough to be Loeb's or my mother -- has an electrical engineering degree. My future mother-in-law (who is Russian, not Ukrainian, but still) also worked in a technical field in the USSR. To my knowledge, neither was ever relegated to secretarial positions.
Finally, I get most nervous about trying to draw policy conclusions from this piece. When right-wing blogs attempt coverage of gender relations, often commenters mention marriage to foreign women as an appealing alternative to the hardships of domestic dating. (See, e.g., Helen Reynolds' comments sections, or the surprising amount of linky love Roissy in D.C. gets from otherwise thoughtful writers.) Though perhaps my own experiences are atypical, I don't think things are nearly as bad as those commenters claim. At least not enough so to warrant condoning the kinds of inequities often inherent in mail-order spouse situations. I'm happy Loeb's experiences were positive, but I'm not sure that I feel comfortable extrapolating from them that mail-order situations generally work out well.
(For the nyetkultura, title explanation here.