Monday, April 07, 2014

Your non-Ukranian privilege is showing

It's tough to feel sorry for the men who travel to Odessa in search of their very own Natalia Vodianova, only to get scammed. Shaun Walker offers a nuanced-enough take that it's not obvious what to make of this. These are men whose one source of privilege is being Western (except that apparently men from Saudi Arabia do this as well). They're not rich, they're not charming, they're not good-looking, and they lack the common sense that comes with having social skills on account of... not having social skills.

The usual systems-of-privilege critique would say they're entitled straight white (if indeed they are white) men, which they are. But at the same time, it's a rational approach, for to play up the importance of being male, Western, whatever, because that's their entire appeal. If they were to be more appropriately PC about it and say that these things don't make them better than anyone else, they're then forced to admit that they are in fact worse than everyone else, on account of wanting to settle down and not being able to do so without dropping thousands of dollars on a scam abroad. Men who are no less straight, white, and Western, but have other things going for them, can afford, as it were, to put less emphasis on those qualities. Ideally the scammed men would do what they could to fix what they could (with the relevant therapies?), but they don't seem up to that task.

A possibly more accurate privilege critique would acknowledge the extent to which the qualities that permit those who wish to marry to do so without involving a check to "Anastasia" are themselves forms of privilege - largely fixed, unearned qualities some men lack. But what trips me up, with this interpretation, is that these men claim to want not just a wife, but a submissive supermodel. If they just said, 'Look, we're lonely, Westernness is our best quality, and we'll trade it for companionship,' it might be otherwise. But if the companion must be runway-ready and less than half his age?

Except... is that really the issue? Could it possibly be that these men must tell themselves that they're in it for the 'superior' women, when the fact of the matter is, the age- and looks-appropriate women back home would also reject them?

Of course, what I didn't notice in the article was anything about underage girls, or assault, or intimidation, all things one would imagine might be involved in endeavors of this nature, and that, if mentioned, would immediately get rid of whichever sympathy these fools may otherwise inspire.

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