Commercial dating agencies that facilitate marriages across national borders comprise a $2.5 billion global industry. Ideas about the industry are rife with stereotypes—younger, more physically attractive brides from non-Western countries being paired with older Western men. These ideas are more myth than fact, Monica Liu finds in Seeking Western Men. Her study of China's email-order bride industry offers stories of Chinese women who are primarily middle-aged, divorced, and proactively seeking spouses to fulfill their material and sexual needs. What they seek in their Western partners is tied to what they believe they've lost in the shifting global economy around them. Ranging from multimillionaire entrepreneurs or ex-wives and mistresses of wealthy Chinese businessmen, to contingent sector workers and struggling single mothers, these women, along with their translators and potential husbands from the US, Canada, and Australia, make up the actors in this multifaceted story. Set against the backdrop of China's global economic ascendance and a relative decline of the West, this book asks: How does this reshape Chinese women's perception of Western masculinity? Through the unique window of global internet dating, this book reveals the shifting relationships of race, class, gender, sex, and intimacy across borders.
About the author
Monica Liu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice and Society Studies at the University of St. Thomas.
"Seeking Western Men shows how vicissitudes of global economy can be registered in the relative value of men and women seeking relationships. Liu's masterful analysis shows readers how to rethink gender, race, and class within a rapidly changing world order."
—Eileen Otis, author of Markets and Bodies
"This engaging ethnography dismantles common assumptions about the motives of female marriage migrants and the transnational appeal of both Western masculinity and Western feminism. Rather, we learn about evolving Chinese feminisms that deviate from Western models, as Chinese women pursue transnational marriages exercising their own sexual agency."
—James Farrar, author of Opening Up
"[Seeking Western Men] is an interdisciplinary study that spans sociology, anthropology, and gender studies. I highly recommend it to students, researchers, and general readers interested in the areas of transnational migration, marriage and family, masculinity, and Chinese and Western cultures. Through a geopolitical and feminist lens, this book provides valuable insights into the power dynamics between Asian women and Western men. It enriches the existing body of research on marriage migration in Asia by offering a wealth of rich ethnographic data."
—Hsunhui Tseng, H-Asia
"Liu's investigation is more than a case study of Chinese international dating. It is an earnest effort to understand the sociological processes and psychological realities that have provoked a reawakening in Chinese women as sexual and romantic beings who want and expect a more fulfilling life, which includes having a satisfying marriage with either a Chinese man of sufficient social standing or, if not, with a Western provider. Monica Liu's study offers an insightful peek into the sociological processes responsible for this psychological awakening. It is ethnography as it should be."
—William Jakowiak, Nan Nü
"This book provides the most detailed empirical examination of the international dating industry in China and how ideas of race, class, and gender are shifting within the globalizing economy, providing an important contribution to sociological literature about the international dating industry and ideas of intimacy within post-reform China."
—Julia Meszaros, Social Forces
"Seeking Western Men: Email-Order Brides under China's Global Rise offers important insights into the complex world of email-order brides. Using feminist lenses from both the West and China, Liu's engaging and accessible writing provides a glimpse of international marriages and the challenges facing women in contemporary China. The book makes significant contributions to the field of gender and migration studies. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in learning more about this phenomenon."
—Shan-Jan Sarah Liu, Journal of Asian Studies