Win Some More White Heterosexual Cis-Male Privilege?

by Ms Dentata

Woah. Okay. Firstly, for a summary of the shameful actions of the Rock in this promotion, I suggest you read a run-down at SCUBANURSE.

Or just read this sentence: the Rock FM is running a competition to win a wife. Yes. Win a wife. But not through dating other *interested* female competitors. The prize package is ACTUALLY travel to the Ukraine and an intro to a Ukranian marriage agency.

Problems:

1)Heterosexist, sexist targeting: Hey, aren’t you supposed to aim your promotions at your intended audience? I don’t have a whole lot of experience in advertising, but I’m pretty sure your audience includes a whole bunch of women, perhaps even sassy feminists (Boganette is a fine example of a sassy listener who’s been successfully pissed off by this ridiculous competition).

Running a competition that is open ONLY to males, and will only be entered by males who want to WIN a wife, seems pretty freaking alienating.

2) Objectification of women: And I don’t just mean in your advertising of this promotion, which is definitely focused on eye-candy and physical attributes. (Promo picture= thin blonde women, decorated in ribbon, with the face entirely pixelated..)

I’ve seen it summed up best by Rachel Hansen : “Competitions are for chocolates, maybe a car, not a wife”. Competitions are for winning products or experiences. Buying a wife- a wife who has little choice in who takes her, a wife who has significantly less social, economic, and sexual freedom than you- how can this seem like a good idea for a gimmick?

The reality is, marriage agencies still exist because there is still a demand. Yet we hear frequent and terrifying reports of these ‘brides’ facing violence and unhappiness at the hands of their new owners  husbands. Women from economically disadvantaged situations can undoubtedly have happy experiences in their new lives, and obviously sign up for a chance to improve their lifestyle.

Regardless of what the women hope to get out of signing up to this agency, the fact remains that potential suitors are not 100% vetted, the women do not have adequate guarantees of safety and independence, and most importantly to me; the women have less choice in the bargain than the men do. This is about freedom, and consent, and the idea that a woman being WON in a competition is not a free and consensual way to form an adult relationship that should be based on love and respect.

3) Trafficking/racism/class privilege: Sure, I have no PROOF that a woman who signs up to international marriage is being trafficked. I also have severe problems with the existence of trafficking being so often used as an argument against liberalisation of sex work laws.

However, the fact is that importing a woman to be a bride sure seems to be a grey area in terms of trafficking. Women are often forced or coerced into leaving their home by people who profit from their sexual exploitation.

If NZ would permit international workers to visit the country for purposes of sex work, wouldn’t this mean that measures to ensure their participation in sex work was free and informed? Wouldn’t that provide other options to women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to earn money through providing sexual services, without having to sign up for marriage to a stranger?

I personally know that I’d much rather have sex with a paying client (and enjoy the boundaries and legal protections that come from such a contractual relationship) than sign up for marriage for my economic survival. Sure, there would be a need to ensure vulnerable immigrants in the industry had support networks open to them. But why should the rock be able to import a bride for someone, and advertise it nationwide, when an international student in NZ is at risk of being kicked out of university and the country, for making extra money through sex work?

The whole idea of winning a wife seems to be such an offensive plan, I find it hard to believe that the Rock didn’t realise that advertisers would not want to be involved with it.

In fact, all of the replies I’ve seen from advertisers so far have been very clear in distancing themselves from these awful antics. It’s clear that the aim of this promotion was to raise controversy and offend people, thus generating even more publicity for the station. However, by letting the advertisers know that you will not be supporting a company that supports (directly or otherwise) sexism and trafficking, we may be able to make a difference to this sorry situation!

Get involved in the facebook campaign HERE, contact advertisers and tell em yr boycotting, and check out the twitter efforts HERE

John Darroch:
The whole premise behind this campaign is that its funny for well off white men from New Zealand to be able to buy a woman from a poor country. Inherent in this is the idea that women are property which can be bought and sold and that exploiting someone’s economic situation like this is fine. If these women could get into NZ without marrying some guy I’m certain most would.

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