I’ve been intending to return to uni to complete an Honours research project for the past couple of years but work commitments always got in the way. As enrolment dates for 2012 loomed, I bit the bullet and enrolled.
There’s been a story I’ve been wanting to tell for the past few years – something I’ve observed in my frequent visits to my family in Hong Kong every year. It’s something I’ve always wanted to talk about but avoided because the topic smacked of social injustice and I’ve been notoriously lazy in this area all my life, preferring instead to make monetary donations to organisations willing to put in the hard work.
Here is my initial research proposal for Honours;
The negative portrayal of mail-ordered brides from Asia has a negative impact on the integration of this group into Australian society. There have been many cultural and feminist studies in this area intended for written dissemination but no recent Australian documentaries addressing this practice.
For my honours project, I plan to research and write a documentary exploring how the portrayal of mail-order brides in the media perpetrate a culture of racism, sexism and classism which isolate and can potentially expose this group of migrants to danger.
To identify potential interviewees, I’ve been in touch with Dee Hunt, editor of Kasama and head of the Brisbane branch of CPCA (Centre for Philippine Concerns). She has offered to put me in contact with potential subjects.
Potential interviewees include:
- Young women in the Philippines with the attitude that marrying a white Australian man will improve their economic and social standing
- New migrants from the Philippines who have arrived because they have married a white Australian – how did they meet – online matchmaking sites, tourist holidays, family connections (less than 3 years)
- Older Australian- Filipino women who migrated more than three years ago for the purpose of marriage with a white Australian male
- Australian men who have participated in matchmaking sites with the views of sponsoring a wife from an Asian country
- Australian men who have participated in sex tours
-Australian men who own some sort of a bar/ club/ lounge in the Philippines which functions as an unofficial brothel to enable other Western men to meet up with Filipino women
- Australian females unconnected with the mail order brides expressing their views on the trade
- Australian males unconnected with the mail order brides expressing their views on the trade
- Representative from SPAN (Solidarity Philippines Australia Network)
- Representative from IWSS (Immigrant Women’s Support Service)
In addition to interviewing people involved in this area, I will also research case studies and recent film/ television/ digital media works to assist in the development of my feature length documentary script.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESEARCH
As an Asian-Australian filmmaker, I am passionate about telling Asian stories as this cultural group is under-represented in the arts and media. ‘Mail order brides’ may be a minority group in Australia but it is a practice that every Australian has an opinion about, and exposes the unsettling truth that as a society, Australia may still be classist, sexist and racist.
A large volume of resources have already been developed but only for written dissemination. Given the popularity of television documentaries at present (reflected by both broadcast hours and the level of state, national and private funding available), I believe that a documentary production is the most effective way to tell this Australian story.
1. Saroca, N 2002. Hearing the voices of Filipino women: violence, media representation and contested realities. School of Social Sciences, University of Newcastle
2. Marshall, Larry 1997. “The Representation of Filipino Women in Australian Film: The Case of the ‘Mail Order Bride’”. Master of Arts Degree, School of Arts and Media, Latrobe University, Victoria.