Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Scaremongering Emails – Women, Minorities Hardest Hit

We’ve all had them – chain emails that warn of scams, fiddles and crimewaves. Most of us check them out at and delete. But over at the Guardian, Viv Groskop is incensed at the implications of what she sees as their target audience :
Where do these "helpful warnings" come from and why do so many of them target women? Tony Neate, a former police detective and now managing director of Get Safe Online, says most unsolicited emails are a form of spam…Women are targeted because "they'll prey on anybody they can scare, anybody who is vulnerable".
Sensible approach. But he’s a man, so what does he know. I’m sure if Viv keeps looking, she’ll find someone who supports her viewpoint. Ah, here we go:
Brett Christensen, who runs the internet site Hoax Slayer, says…"A lot of the stories are inherently sexist in that they involve an apparently helpless and unobservant female who needs to be 'saved' by a more attentive individual, depicted as male in most versions," says Christensen. "Such tales pander to the traditional gender role models of the female victim, the male protector and the evil male predator and are underpinned by overt or covert sexual themes."
That’s the spirit, Brett! So, it’s evil men who are solely responsible for causing this phenomenon, then? Well, no:
For many women, forwarding these warnings is almost a superstitious impulse. The friend who sent the email to me and 44 others admitted that she found it a little far-fetched but took the view "better safe than sorry". The problem is, if half those she sent it to took the same view and sent it on, it could easily reach tens of thousands of people within hours. Increasingly, these scares are also doing the rounds on MySpace and Facebook.
Hmm, so perhaps women should just toughen up, get netsavvy and stop forwarding the damn things to all their girlfriends, instead of whining about how ‘sexist’ it all is!

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