Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Crying Baby Email

I got the fucking crying baby email today. I used to get this stupid forward all the time when I worked with a bunch of depressed women (one of them sent it to me twice in the same month), but I hadn't seen it in years and thought I was finally free of this nonsense. This time it came from a very kind and well-meaning guy, who happens to like forwarding stuff.

What is the crying baby email? It's a condescending missive to women, chock-full of handy tips on how to not get raped. I've seen a few versions. One claims that a survey of sex offenders reveals that they like to attack women with ponytails (easy to get a firm caveman grip), so don't have long hair! Or you'll get raped! Every single one of these "safety" forwards tells the story about the crying baby on the porch, and I quote -

Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird.. The police told her 'Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door..' The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over.The policeman said, 'We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.' He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

Let's examine a few key phrases here. "Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby..." Who is this someone and who is this someone's friend? Even better, who sent this email in the first place? Or how about "they have not verified it"? And are cops really in the practice of revealing the existence of a local serial killer during a 911 call? Who wrote this dumb script?

Here's my favorite part of the email I received today -

This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby Theory was mentioned on America 's Most Wanted when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana

Oh that serial killer! The one and only Louisiana serial killer. Everyone knows about him! Wait, hasn't "America's Most Wanted" been on the air for 21 years? Are we to take every one of those murderers' methods into account when we go about our daily business? Or just The Louisiana Serial Killer?

I take it back - my favorite part of the email that I received today is the very first sentence, if you can call it a sentence -

because of recent abductions In daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation....

Recent abductions? Where, in Kenya? I've heard that they have had a slew of recent abductions, but I'm not there. In fact, there's an excellent chance that I live nowhere near the person who crafted this email. I know I definitely don't live near the person who sent it to me. But it sure is a chilling statement. The whole email is disturbing. It makes you afraid of everyday life.

I swear to Jeebus, the people who write this crap are in cahoots with the producers of "Law & Order SVU" to make women fearful. If you really want to encourage your women friends to be safe, then recommend a self-defense course. I took one when I was 17 and learned practical skills that I use every time I am out alone. And when I came out of that class, I felt positive and self-assured. Sure, the crying baby email contains a few practical tips, but all within the context of hysterical, anecdotal nonsense. It doesn't leave you feeling empowered. It leaves you feeling scared.


  1. My favorites are the tips where they tell you to defy the orders of someone pointing a gun at you:

    1. "If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM!" (Does it have to be a guy?) Instead, throw it in the other direction!

    2. Or how about in your car: "DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location."

    WTF? If I were a robber, I would shoot someone for doing either of these things...

    P.S. Wah! Wah! I'm a serial killer.

  2. Yeah, people who don't argue with armed gun(wo)men are idiots!