Thursday, October 26, 2006

Looking Over Your Shoulder

I received the following e-mail from a friend earlier this week. One of my areas of research looks at hysteria about "stranger danger" on the Internet, which is often allegedly aimed at protecting children. So, particularly as a feminist, it's interesting to see this one aimed at women (or, strangely, their husbands) and face-to-face interactions for comparison and contrast.

Realistically, of course, women are most likely to be killed by the men that they live with not strangers, but you don't see "get out of a violent relationship" messages forwarded on the Internet in the same way.

My other dark thought was that it is the women of Baghdad who most need these tips about avoiding kidnapping, abduction, rape, and murder right now.

Link Here

Update: Not very surprisingly, Nedra Weinreich found the crying baby story in the list of Internet legends on Snopes. I say that I'm not surprised, because the fear being promulgated is so disproportionate to reality . . . unless a woman is in actual danger because she is living in a violent relationship, in which case not opening the doors for crying babies will not make much of a difference.

There also a lot of other things wrong with their Internet list of advice; for example, the data on "fighting back" against an armed person indicates that it isn't always a good idea. Perhaps these women should be using their energies to agitate for more effective gun control.

Here's another question: which promulgates more fear? Broadcast television with its endless crime stories or the Internet? After all, as researcher danah boyd has pointed out, almost all of the MySpace crime stories have also turned out not to be true.

Lastly, I have to point out the rhetorical flair of the candle metaphor. I'm curious if it is used in other Internet appeals.

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Blogger Nedra Weinreich said...

Hi Liz,
Given your usual skeptical view of things that come over the internet, I'm surprised you didn't vet this through Snopes first. The crying baby ruse is a hoax, and they debunk several of these tips as ineffective. Read the article on Snopes for some better safety tips:

10:51 PM  

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