My stepmother forwarded another one of those “warning” emails to everyone she knows. I suppose I should be appreciative that she’s gotten more selective about the ones she forwards. When she first discovered them, every single one was passed on with huge alarming CAPS lest we fall victim to such a cleverly disguised horrible end as contracting AIDS from a hidden needle on a gas pump. But even now, after we’ve introduced her to snopes.com and not a single one of her ghost stories has proven true, she still can’t help herself.
Part of the reason it bugs me is that these anecdotes always begin with the caveat that it may not be true, but tell everyone you know “just to be on the safe side”. Paradoxically, I think these emails serve as more of a disservice than a helpful reminder to always, vaguely and ominously, “be aware”. What’s the logical end here? I could be attacked in a parking lot after responding to a man’s request for a dollar, but my screams for help go unanswered because, to my fellow shoppers, I’m nothing but a stranger and could be a decoy for a lurking rapist in my back seat. Come on.
Now that we’re pregnant, it bugs me on a different level. So many of these warnings are specifically aimed at women and encourage the reader to send them on to every mother, sister, daughter and girlfriend in his/her life. That strikes me as particularly damaging and encourages women to feel more likely to be victimized, more frail and less capable of protecting themselves against all the creative bloodthirsty lunatics hiding in the shadows.
If we have a girl, I want her to be confident and for that she’ll need to take risks and learn from them. It’s our job to protect her and teach her to protect herself and that includes protecting her right to happiness and security. I don’t wish for her to grow up to be some nail-biting ninny always looking over her shoulder, afraid to talk to strangers or take a walk alone. We can teach her to look both ways before crossing the street, but I’d prefer to stop short of teaching her to never talk to strangers, or worse, don’t go out alone because BAD things can happen. Going out alone is often where the best things can happen.
Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic about an email, but to me, this crap stems from the same mentality as the sensationalism on FOX News and the alarmist tones that justify spending tens of billions of dollars on homeland security plans “to ensure our security” from dudes who attacked us with boxcutters. For real.
There’s no such thing as 100% safe. Like Mat says, what happens to the .01% of bacteria that aren’t killed by anti-bacterial soaps? Is that the e. Coli?
All we can do is wash our hands, teach our kids to wash their hands and go about our business of enjoying life. I don’t want to live in a body condom. It doesn’t breathe and it smells like latex.