Quick, think of a man who wants to get even with a woman that he feels has wronged him. What are the images that come to mind?
Obsessed crazed nut, stalker, psychopath, potential terrorist, murderer, rapist. Get a gun and shoot him in self-defense. Or, at the very least, his desire for revenge is seen as just another example of the boorish childishness of men.
Quick, think of a woman who wants to get even with a man that she feels has wronged her. What are the images that come to your mind?
Wronged woman getting even with a "jerk". Blackmail him. Expose the skeletons in his closet. Kick him.... Female-on-male revenge is always righteous and it sure is "fun". It's the staple of many works of entertainment; just look at all the members of the gentler sex in the theater cheering on Jennifer Lopez as she throttles a man to death. A generation ago, their mothers cheered on Ali McGraw for much the same thing.
A woman's desire to get even with a man isn't dangerous or childish, of course; it's just proof that you can't keep a good woman down.
Yes, a little study of the revenge industry shows it heavily steeped in femi-sexism, and this book, written by two Englishwomen, Jane Inder and Hilary Eyre, is no different.
"Hilary" is certainly an appropriate first name for an author of a revenge book, and to the extent that the male/female dichotomy is discussed, Jane and Hilary seem to design their commentary with the assumption that they are addressing a wronged woman justifiably desiring revenge against a male jerk.
For that matter, the discussion doesn't center exclusively on relationships. The authoresses gleefully repeat the Greek myth of how Artemis, the goddess of hunting and chastity, turns the hunter Actaeon into a stag and sics his own dogs on him to eat him alive. Actaeon's capital crime was that of having ogled Artemis while she was bathing naked. Punishable by mutilation and death, of course.
Obviously, life hasn't changed much since the days of ancient Greese. Women still regard themselves as goddesses, and they still regard male sexuality as a capital offense.
Still, the authors don't recommend this or any other violent method as a means of getting even; for that matter, they don't recommend that any of the "revenge" schemes that they discuss ever actually be used. The book has the expected disclaimer that these schemes are all being suggested "for entertainment purposes only". Of course.
To be honest, these authors seem a little more self-conscious of their femi-sexism than are others of their ilk. Once in a while, they allow for the concept of a wronged man. Or the bitchy co-worker. And not all revenge schemes stem from the male/female dichotomy anyway. The stuffy bureaucrat, the neighbor who lets his dogs and cats poop over your lawn, and the troublesome supervisor, could be of any gender and so could the one wanting revenge against them.
But the book also suffers from Anglocentrism. Apparently Londoners themselves, Jane & Hillary assume that all of their readers are English, a naïve assumption in the global electronic village that we now live in. Admittedly, this was less true in 1994 when this book was published. Still, if you are going to run a newspaper ad for a lost dog in the name of your target, it's useful to know that the most common dog breeds in the UK are German Shepards, Labradors, and Jack Russells, but only if you live in the UK. What about the revenge-fantasy-minded American, Canadian, or Australian?
I can't help but admire the twist on the old pizza trick though. Ordering a pizza to be delivered to a total stranger, just to play a prank on the pizza parlor, is ancient and pointless, and the pizza parlor these days insists on a call-back phone number to double-check. On the other hand, posting leaflets all over town giving your target's telephone number and advertising 24-hour delivery of discount pizzas is a stroke of brilliance.
But in large part, the schemes in this book smack of a great deal of naivete. They assume that you have access to your target's home or office or telephone or automobile. <Heck>, what if your target lives out of town?
And they assume that you ALREADY know of your target's most embarrassing secrets. One who already has such access or such knowledge can probably come up with his own imaginative revenge schemes and doesn't need a book such as this to suggest them. And after the damage is done, how could one with such access or knowledge maintain a pretense of innocence anyway?
Besides, I think that the Internet effectively does away with personally-crafted revenge schemes. Why should anyone go to a great deal of time, effort, and expense to develop such schemes now? The cyber-head has enough knowledge at his disposal to make miserable the lives of others from his terminal.
And for about 20 bucks, the rest of us can visit any number of revenge-theme web pages, punch in our credit card numbers, and from the safety and comfort of our living rooms, order a melted box of candy or a dead fish to be anonymously delivered to our target. No fuss, no muss (not on our end) and quite possibly, not even illegal.
Your target might know or suspect that it was you, but she (heh-heh; assuming a female target) can't prove it.
Or if we just want to fantasize about doing that sort of thing, that certainly isn't illegal or costly.
Horns may protrude from my head and bloodthirsty hunting dogs may bay at my door. But secure in my anonymity, I give the Witches of London three stars for effort and deduct one star for femi-sexism.