Leo is not very impressive on paper. I am. So for both our sakes, we should be happy that our marriage wasn’t arranged because we never would have wound up together.
The fact of the matter is that I love the man; the resumé is irrelevant. But this means that some people make assumptions about us. Following my meeting with the visa officer, I thought that perhaps he was also struggling to put our marriage into a conventional understanding of the institution, and therefore drew somewhat cynical conclusions about our intentions… in other words, I wonder whether he thought ours was a “fake marriage” and we were out to con the system. Why else would he assume that Leo wanted to sneak back into the US while I did my Master’s in Canada? That’s certainly not the behavior of a happily married couple.
My mother also had a similar thought – with a twist:
“This may be old fashioned,” she said, “but I think that if you were a man and Leo was your Brazilian wife, none of this would be a problem. That’s what’s pissing me off! Well, a lot of things are pissing me off, but they’re discriminating against you!”
I’d been so up in arms about discrimination against Leo: the “poor,” “uneducated,” “South American” “undocumented immigrant” “of color” (how’s that for a quintuple whammy?!) that it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I could also be subjected to certain double standards!
Would the outcome have been different if I were an accomplished male off to take the academic world by storm and trying to get a visa for my babelicious Brazilian arm candy? It would have undoubtedly fit into a pre-established understanding of marriage, profession, and immigration… Perhaps it wouldn’t have raised the same red flags. I don’t know.
I can’t pretend to know the visa officer; maybe he’s a staunch women’s rights activist who has been the supporting force behind his daughter’s academic progress or his wife’s high-powered career in which she outranks him in position and pay. I don’t know the guy. I’m not going to make any assumptions.
…but reflecting on the system, it certainly gave me something to think about.