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Wham, spam, no thank you, ma'am: E-mail ads insult women and men


July 26, 2001

Sometimes the desperate e-sales forces out there clamoring for attention are so out of touch the results are pitiful. Being out of touch is one thing. The idiots at illusiony@hotmail.com are another.

These are the folks sending out the most recent round of unsolicited Internet junk mail advertising a "safe" (what else?), "all-natural" (right-o) breast enhancer. What makes this particular ad remarkable is its ability to offend so many people in the 10 seconds it takes to read it.

"Tone, Firm and Increase the Size of Your Breasts Naturally," the ad promises, adding:

"Great for...

Firming and uplifting

Smaller breasted women

Older women

Asian women

Sagging and drooping

Enlargement."

I doubt they had many takers on the ad, especially among smaller, older, Asian, sagging or drooping women, which, let's face it, describes most of us.

Then there's the subject line: "Embarassed About Little Breasts?" What a bunch of jerks. The only thing embarrassing here is their misspelling of embarrassed.

What makes these ads particularly demeaning, though, is the suggestion that men and women are irrationally obsessed about body-part size. Yes, men face their own version of women's "Embarassed About Small Breasts?" ad. The male version also insists that bigger is better.

A friend was recently shocked to find this very spam in her office e-mail, the one promising her -- in large, colorful letters -- a "bigger penis size." I smiled knowingly. I, too, nearly jumped out of my chair the first time that one popped up on my screen in the newsroom. Now it appears three, four times a week. I yawn and hit delete; get more coffee.

Once I thought I'd fight back, so I hit reply and wrote "remove" in the message field. Only later did I learn sometimes that encourages spammers. Now they know they have a live person sitting in front of that e-mail account.

Another time I hit reply and wrote, "I am a woman, you jerks. I do not need a larger penis." OK, so I was venting. What did I get for my trouble? Junk mail trying to trick me into clicking on porno sites. The subject lines were sneaky: "I Miss You." It wasn't from a long-lost cousin.

There are measures for fighting this trash, but many are written in techno language. One of the easier guides gives instructions on decoding the header to reveal the true sender. A sample header is followed by these instructions:

(In that example,) " 'mailhost.- yourdomain.com' is your e-mail server. 'mhs.major.com' is an Internet transfer point. 'mailer.other.net' is the e-mail server for an ISP, and its IP address is '254.254.245.199,' 'spammer.- other.net' is a user account at 'other.net' and when 'spammer' was connected to send their messages they may have been using a dial-up account 'ppp29' with an IP address of '254.254.245.249.'"

I prefer the delete button.

Authors on one philosophical site have decided those who send such junk are actually squatters, trespassing on "our connections, our disk space, our computers." Like squatters, they'll camp out in our back yards, letting their dogs run loose, unless people decide not to permit it. Their instructions for fighting back are equally hieroglyphic.

This has yet to worry the purveyors of these annoying, insulting ads, most of whom operate in shadowy circles.

By Wednesday, the link to the breast-enhancement product had expired and e-mails to the sender came back as undeliverable. Illusiony@hotmail.com has disappeared into the ether, none the wiser about how disgusting most people on the Internet find such sales tactics.

May I suggest a new screen name, Illusiony? Clueless.com would do nicely. Loser.com is another.

The Bee's Diana Griego Erwin can be reached at (916) 321-1057 or dgriego@sacbee.com.

by Diana Griego Erwin, Copyright © The Sacramento Bee


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