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Matthew's Pravda
Matthew's Pravda

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My Experience with Mail Order Brides

I bought an address from Club Prima, a paranoid mail order company who is very afraid their customers will resell the addresses. It cost $20 for two address. At these prices they should be afraid, they do resell addresses. But I would never be so cruel. Natasha Sklyarova of Volgograd could barely write English and I could barely write Russian at the time, and from these poorly understood letters I mounted an expedition to visit her. So I left Akron, Ohio to go on an adventure to the third world. I wish I never had. As I write now I face the furor of the INS, the risk of a five year jail sentence, and possibly the break up of my family or constructive deportation. This is the story of how it happened.

After arriving I asked her to marry me and she agreed. Having a lot of sunk costs invested into the project I probably overlooked the warning signs, and mislabeled them as communication problems, since I could barely converse.

I returned a year later, and stayed at her apartment for 4 months while attending Volgograd University. I learned to speak Russian somewhat fluently. (Now I am fluent, or at least better than average) Despite misgivings, I still planned to marry her. She seemed genuine. At this point, I should look like a cartoon character who is furiously sawing on a tree limb while sitting on the unsupported end.

I bought her a ticket and sponsored her for a visa. She began flirting with other men immediately, and finally, once her English had improved found herself a new boyfriend by the time we were scheduled to marry. Two months after we had married, I said her relationship with her boyfriend was unacceptable. My room-mate/tenant Matthew Allender, (no relation to me), had found them having sex by chance at our house when I was at the University. About a week later she ran away with her boyfriend. Two days later, she called my mother to accuse me of marital rape. These details I learned much later, since my mother/landlord was reluctant to tell me.

Ironically her boyfriend a Spanish immigrant, Fernando Tudanca, an employee at the Ohio State Equal Opportunity Commission, who had just recently abandoned his wife of 10 years, claiming he had married her to get a visa, but underestimated how she could economically and socially control his life, so he had difficulty running away, although not for lack of trying.

Doing a quick check on my and her legal status, I learned :

  • The INS will probably never deport her. Two months marriage is sufficient. The INS investigator said, "No judge or jury would deport a pretty young girl." They said most of their work dealt with Nigerians who forged immigration documents. Presumably, black illegal immigrants are a bigger threat than Russian girls. For all you Russian girls and men out there, I'd advise you to forget about all other visas. Getting the right to work by this route is a snap and entails virtually no risks for the immigrant.
  • I, theoretically, could be liable for several years in jail plus $1/4 million in fines if the INS thinks I did this on purpose, to aid visa fraud and illegal immigration. On the Usenet, I have learned that this isn't enforced often. Still, the INS would like to send me to jail for 5 years if it can, since they believed my wife's story about rape and abuse.
  • I am out the cost of a plane ticket, and a good deal of money required to bring a penniless foreigner up to par. They generally arrive without new clothes, are in need of dental work, and English lessons.
  • She now slanders my name in public to get permanent residence. There is a "Wife Abuse" waiver, which is supposed to require documentary evidence for the INS to take action, but never the less the INS investigator investigating me believes my ex entirely and is using that belief to try to build a fraud case against me. I haven't been charged, tried or convicted of raping my ex-wife, but the INS thinks her story is very credible. In my last interview the investigator refused to listen to my side of the story, interrupting me after a single sentence. She said "I am familiar with your case and you ex-wife and her story is a lot more credible than yours. I advise you to not incriminate yourself further." Okay ma'am. She continued, "What do you think you will do when your current wife Americanizes and isn't the docile housewife you wanted?" Okay, ma'am. This investigator thinks that all men who bough mail order addresses are right wing extremist male chauvinists. I would agree that the sellers mostly are, and many of the buyers may be, but I would like to point out I am an individual, not a category. I'm not even a conservative. If this investigator succeeds, I will be face with living with an illegal immigrant or leaving the country to keep my family together. In essence, I will be constructively deported from the country I was born in on the basis of a false accusation.

Some people think the above stuff is hard to believe. Please, read up on US immigration law before you file me under "anti-immigration xenophobe." I am right, on everything except possibly the finer points that a lawyer might be aware of, such as actual practice versus written law. Immigration's great, all my grandparents were immigrants. The law is in desperate need of some attention.

As a scientific experiment I order a bunch more addresses. About 25%-50% responded. One even sent nude pictures. The vast majority of the letters are all very similar, as if they are using the same form letter. Letter writing is a lousy way to evaluate someone, the letter writer has too much control over the impression they are making.

In the letters you don't hear about the bad stuff. I'm from the North US where we try not to talk about our racism, and sometimes we even succeed in suppressing it entirely. My ex-wife was openly racist. Her anti-Semitism was a like a parody of WWII German anti-Semitism. When my ex-wife was angry at me she asked me if my forefathers were Jewish. Her hates were ranked, with Americans somewhere at the top, followed by Asians, Jews, Blacks and of course people like you. In the end she rationalized her abandonment and infidelity by saying that Eastern Europeans and Americans didn't mix. She reasoned her new "European" boyfriend would be a better match.

In the end I met a Russian girl Sophia, who got her visa honestly-- a student visa. We are now married happily, have a baby son, Vladislav E. Martin. Unlike my ex-wife, she doesn't have any ulterior motives. And no one finds her sleeping with my roommates when I'm away.

Generally, when people hear my story, they are unsympathetic. Which is understandable. Any outsider could see the ridiculousness of my situation. My point is that if you buy an address, you are putting yourself into the same position as a cartoon character furiously sawing on a tree limb, while sitting on the wrong end.

Don't Do It

A popular idea in the sales literature is that foreign women are docile, have traditional family values and aren't "feminists." My ex-wife when she spoke was an ideological throwback to the dark ages, when women were property. Her behavior, though was well in line with the most radical free love thinkers of modern times, and was docile as a shrew, (those little hostile burrowing rodents.) My current wife, also Russian, when she talks is ideologically more feminist than Gloria Steinem, but contributes about 5 times more to helping run the house with half the complaints of my ex-wife. These two persons are both Russians, from the same town.

Also any other theory you might find the sales literature that proposes foreigners are different, better or worse, is useless, even if true. The fact is that immigrants very quickly become Americanized. The strong social forces that make women satisfied with a male-chauvinist society like Russia, are missing in the US.

An in response to a nice screed, whose link is below, I would like to mention I am not a feminist. I understand that as progressive and liberal I would like to think I understand and feel the concerns of women, but I haven't lived their experiences and I benefit from male-chauvinism, so you can't say I am a feminist. As a side note, I'd like to point out the INS investigator that is trying to break up my family and constructively deport me is doing so as she would like to believe, "The defender of women." Let me tell you, it is hard but doable, to still support women's rights even as I am becoming a victim of anti-male chauvinist ideology.


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Matthew Martin
Any resemblance to semi-defunct communist newspapers is pure coincidental.