- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

Heavens: Are ladies of a certain age mobilizing to go fight terrorists on foreign shores?
"Take all American women who are within five years of menopause, train us for a few weeks; outfit us with automatic weapons, grenades, gas masks, moisturizer with SPF-15, Prozac, hormones, chocolate, and canned tuna; drop us (parachuted, preferably) across the landscape of Afghanistan, and let us do what comes naturally."
Thus reads a brand new bit of Internet lore which is barreling through cyberspace at the speed of a minivan bound for the mall. According to one observer, "thousands of women" have read this missive, sent by chain e-mail and posted on message boards from sea to shining sea.
But wait. There's more.
"Think about it," the message continues. "Our anger quotient alone, even when doing standard stuff like grocery shopping and paying bills, is formidable enough to make even armed men in turbans tremble."
"We've survived the water diet, the protein diet, the carbohydrate diet, and the grapefruit diet in gyms and saunas across America and never lost a pound. We can easily survive months in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan with no food at all. We've spent years tracking down our husbands or lovers in bars, hardware stores, or sporting events. Finding bin Laden in some cave will be no problem."
There are some diplomatic skills involved, too.
"Uniting all the warring tribes of Afghanistan in a new government? Oh, please we've planned the seating arrangements for in-laws and extended families at Thanksgiving dinners for years. We understand tribal warfare."
The ladies propose to play hardball in the message, which has been universally billed "Let 'em at them."
"Between us, we've divorced enough husbands to know every trick there is or how they hide, launder, or cover up bank accounts and money sources. We know how to find that money and we know how to seize it, with or without the government's help."
And, in conclusion, the letter urges, "Let us go and fight. The Taliban hates women. Imagine their terror as we crawl like ants with hot-flashes over their godforsaken terrain. I'm going to write my Congresswoman. You should, too."
Needless to say, the sentiments are being greeted with gusto from the girls.
"Amen, sister, I'm there," reads a reply at www.women.com, one of the most heavily trafficked women's Web sites in the country. The message is posted, incidentally, under "Scratching Post" in the "Girl Talk" section.
This e-mail is so new that its origins remain a mystery. It is part of a greater subculture of rumor, hoaxes, urban legends, humor and commentary that has emerged on the Internet for better or worse in a post-Sept. 11 world.
The field is so large that one Web site (www.snopes2.com) now devotes an entire section to the "debunking" of war-related rumors. Does ironing the mail kill anthrax? Does Osama bin Laden own the Snapple company? No on both counts.
Still, chain e-mails and odd tales serve their purpose in trying times.
"A lot of legends come out of situations where there is an intense and poorly defined feeling of stress," cultural analyst Bill Ellis told the New York Times after he received the infamous and false "friend of a friend" e-mail which claimed American shopping malls would be attacked on Halloween.
Legends, rumors and hoaxes, Mr. Ellis said, are a kind of psychological shield. And they can be funny, too.
Tennessee-based political writer Glenn Reynolds received the "Belligerent Women" e-mail from "a local librarian."
"Judging by its headers it has been seen and passed on by thousands of women already," he notes at Insta-Pundit, his own compendium. (https://instapundit.blogspot.com).
And supposing all those irate ladies with their chocolate and gas masks arrive on foreign shores?
"Those guys don't stand a chance," Mr. Reynolds observed.

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