Romance is Dead: Mail Order Bridges as Surrogate Corpses
Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law and Social Policy
This Article examines consumption in the mail-order bride industry as a normative explanation for the public health risks posed by sex trafficking. Sex trafficking, when deconstructed into an epidemic of consumption, produces a conceptual tool for understanding the health risks of the industry. Consumption exposes the international trafficking of women as a manifestation of necrophilia. Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm described necrophilia as representative of a disposition of manipulation, control, violence and force and not merely the attraction to and intercourse with dead bodies. The public health risks posed by sexual trafficking are intimately related to the psychological health of the consumer husband-as-necrophile. Part I of this Article explores the relationship between law and violence in the mail-order bride practice. The mail-order bride industry is widespread and the United States has devoted substantial legislative energy to curing the abuses that have resulted from the industry. Part II discusses how the economy of purchased sex perpetuates abuse. The economic basis of the mail-order relationship degrades the foreign spouse precisely because she is financially worse-off than her husband. Part III explores how the consumer husband is a symbol of the sexuality he consumes. The consumer husband's distorted view of sexuality is fueled through the dehumanization of women. Part IV connects the consumer husband's dehumanizing impulses to necrophilia.
Daniel Epstein, Romance is Dead: Mail Order Bridges as Surrogate Corpses, 17 BUFF. J. GENDER L. & Soc. POL'y 61 (2009).