I’m very excited to welcome our newest guest blogger, Jessica Critcher! Jessica has a B.A. in English from the University of Hawaiʻi and currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has been published in Bitch Magazine and is (allegedly) working on a novel. Her hobbies include playing Fallout, tending carnivorous plants, anonymously correcting grammar on public bulletin boards, and baking. She fancies herself as the tattooed hooligan hybrid of Virginia Woolf, Daria and Wonder Woman.
I don’t listen to much radio. Why sit through a random assortment of heavily censored, pushy advertisements and cheesy DJ personalities when I can listen to whatever I want on an mp3 player? But unfortunately, an Edmonton radio station is pulling something I can’t tune out, no matter how loud I turn up the volume on Agent Ribbons.
Edmonton’s The Bear 100.3 FM is holding a contest to “Win a Wife” and it’s probably more tacky and horrible than it sounds. No, they’re not literally “giving away a wife!” in the sense of chattel slavery (even though they deliberately made it sound that way). Contestants are “winning” an opportunity to fly to Russia to meet potential brides.
This is creepy on a lot of different levels. For starters, the current top two finalists are women. Apparently they weren’t content to let men have all of the fun objectifying a human being. In any case, the idea of a person trying to win another person is an egregious display of First World privilege, regardless of a contestant’s gender.
The frontrunner (who lists her name as “Woo”) answered the question “What you have[sic] to offer a smoking hot foreign girl?” with “a smoking hot canadian girl *wink emoticon*”. Not only is the “prize” valued solely in terms of appearance, but contestants are invited to measure their own worth by this standard as well. Though it is not unique to this contest, it is still an unsettling example of girl-on-girl objectification.
It gets worse. Most of the male contestants’ answers for “Top 3 benefits of having a wife” are horrifying at worst and shallow at best. Contestant BOB DOYLE wants a wife, “To rub my back -To shave my back -We can talk abut[sic] my hairy shoulder”. RedRandy wants a wife for “Food Companionship ‘Doing it’”, which leads me to wonder if he plans to eat her.
A problematic split arises. The men who don’t want a wife for cooking, cleaning and sex (usually in about that order) want a wife for companionship and understanding—but they all expect to find what they want instantly, with a total stranger by winning a contest on the radio. What is fascinating about these contestants is the recurring idea that finding a wife is insanely difficult (otherwise they would have one already, right?), but obtaining a Russian wife will somehow be a quick fix to all of their romantic and sexual woes.
If the sort of wife these contestants would want to “win” is someone they see as a future servant/prostitute in a financially precarious (and therefore dependent) state, they (let alone humanity) have far more problems than they realize. The most obvious problem would be that they won their wife on the radio, which – I cannot stress enough – is sick and weird.
I can picture it now. “So how’d you two meet?” “Well, I couldn’t find any Canadian or American women who would tolerate my outdated and misogynistic views of marriage, so I won myself a wife from 100.3 The Bear. I got a free hat, too!”
T-shirts and concert tickets are fine. I won a gift card for a tattoo on the radio once; it was awesome. But expecting to find true love and/or a maid the same way one goes about winning a CD over simplifies human potential—both of the Russian women tangled in this contest and of the lonely people vying for online votes.
If I’m not having a horrible nightmare and this is actually a real thing, we should all be worried.