In September, NBC greenlit a sitcom called Mail Order Family. The plot would center around a widowed single father who orders a mail-order bride from the Philippines to help raise his two preteen daughters. Online backlash was swift, as people asked what was so funny about the exploitation of marginalized Filipino women, so plans to produce the show were cancelled, but that doesn’t mean the issue of mail-order brides and the racist stereotypes that surround them have gone away.
Charlene Sayo was part of a team from the Philippine Women Centre of B.C. (PWC) that conducted a study on Filipino women who came to Canada, either explicitly as mail-order brides or via the caregiver program (previously called the live-in caregiver program), who were now living in provinces across Canada — often isolated in rural areas — with their new husbands and families. The PWC includes domestic workers, mail-order brides, prostituted women, as well as other Filipino women who are forced to emigrate as part of globalization under the umbrella of trafficking.
In this episode, I speak with Charlene about these programs, as well the stereotypes and the struggles Filipino women face today in Canada and beyond.
Charlene Sayo is blogger, commentator, and co-author of Canada: The New Frontier for Filipino Mail-Order Brides. She also hosts MsRepresent: Behind the Face, A Fierce Woman.