Negative headlines and alarming warnings about food, household items and health leave women feeling confused, suspicious and overwhelmed, but do little to make them adjust their lifestyles. These were some of the findings of a national online survey of women regarding “alarmism” released by the Independent Women’s Forum.
The results show women want more information but they have a widespread distrust in the media, the largest purveyors of alarmist warnings. In addition, women have little faith in warnings provided by the federal government and activist organizations. Instead, they rely on friends, family and doctors for sound health and safety advice.
The poll found that “mommy guilt” (and non-mommy guilt) is pervasive – alarmism causes them to wonder about the actions they take in terms of family care. In fact, two-thirds of the women surveyed say they sometimes feel badly about not doing enough to promote the health and well-being of their families.
But women aren’t pointing fingers. They strongly feel their decisions, whether good or bad, are a matter of choice and not access. According to the survey, women also reject the idea that government action will succeed at encouraging people to live healthier. In fact, twice as many women believe government meddling either makes no difference or is counter-productive, compared to those who believe it works.
Julie Gunlock, director of the Culture of Alarmism project at the Independent Women’s Forum Women believes the constant bombardment of negative information creates a “never cry wolf” phenomena, where women simply cannot tell the difference between legitimate concerns that might affect their family's health and well-being, and scary headlines designed to attract attention.
“Women—especially mothers—have had enough of all the scaremongering,” says Gunlock. “They want reliable information, not the dodgy science so often reported by the press. Women have choices in the marketplace right now. They don’t need government minders and activist groups to tell them how to live or how to raise their children.”