For God knows what reason, I found myself watching Oprah a few days ago. The topic was on marriage around the world. The first segment involved a Danish woman talking to Egyptian women about marriage and gender roles. This was interesting enough, but it was the second segment that I truly found fascinating.
Lera Loeb is a woman from the Ukraine who came to the United States as student, but had to return to Ukraine when her student visa expired. Desperate, she signed up on a mail-order bride website so that she could get back to the United States. The whole story can be read in this Glamour piece. Lera’s husband is a successful music producer but he’s awkward looking in a Christopher Walken way. It’s easy to see why this option might have been appealing to him. This was a free trade and both parties got exactly what they wanted. He got a hot, young wife. She got a ticket to the United States and a chance to pursue her dreams. As Kerry Howley noted, this kind of arraignment is not that different than most marriages through history.
In Atlas Shrugged, there is a minor character named Cheryl Brooks. She is a young woman who leaves her unambitious family in Buffalo because she knows that she’ll never amount to anything if she stays with them. She tells her future husband: “we were stinking poor and not giving a damn about it. That’s what I couldn’t take−that they didn’t really give a damn about it. That’s what I couldn’t take−that they didn’t really give a damn. Not enough to lift a finger.” Like Cheryl, Lera is a woman who refused to take the path of least resistance and live a mundane life. She took affirmative steps to give herself a chance for happiness. She is not a woman who just wanted to leach off her American husband. She wanted to create a successful life on her own terms and she has very clearly done so. For that, she has my admiration.