Playground Politics

Look, you know what the internet’s like. For every website that’s addictive or helpful there are ten more that resemble the bowel contents of a slowly decomposing badger. And yeah, all of these pass me by like so much chaff in the wind. Except for one and it just happens to be one of the most divisive and bleak-hearted websites on the internet. It’s Mumsnet.

Course, I’m reminded to tell you this because of the recent media bleatings over talent-botherer Amanda Holden and her skirmish with said site. Thanks to some paper or other approaching her with comments to a thread of hers she has been widely quoted as saying “It might seem controversial but all I saw on Mumsnet was negativity. I expected it to be a website where women were embracing each other. Actually it’s a lot of women criticising, judging and having a go at each other.”

The result was a Radio 2 (I know, I know) debate between Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, and Christine Odone, columnist at The Telegraph, over whether Mumsnet has outstayed its welcome at the baby shower thanks to the suppurating nastiness of some of its members.

Now I wrote about my glancing blow with Mumsnet here. It was like being breathed on by Satan after he’d feasted on garlic. Seriously, you could catch me shagging my way through a mortuary and I wouldn’t receive the kicking this bunch of Boden-fiddlers gave me for agonising over how to juggle work with childcare.

Now, if anyone thinks that a few million women grouped together in one forum are all going to agree on the thorny aspects of parenting then they’ve probably been sniffing Bostick. Yet the reason I hate Mumsnet isn’t because of the shrill disagreement or the thundering debates. It’s because the site admin, Justin Roberts included, seems to do nothing about the bullies who patrol its play yard.

And bullies are exactly what these women are. Furious, spitting, embittered bullies who write as if a woman acting independently of her uterine produce is a personal affront. Seriously, I’ve been involved in debates about equality and rape and come across the very same level of nastiness from men who think it’s their right to grab a passing arse.

See, to me Justine Roberts is like a headmaster who refuses to believe that her pupils are bullies. Whenever she is faced with the abusive nature of some of her members she trots out the same old, same old about her members having varying opinions. But this isn’t about opinions, it’s about abusive and troll-like responses from the parental version of thick kids who pick on others to feel better about themselves.

Now Mumsnet threads carry the following message, “Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don’t allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.” Yet said messages are then followed by responses which amount to little more than verbal acid attacks.

You’d think that Roberts would do something to cleanse her site of this cretinous behaviour yet she doesn’t. You’d also think that she’d value her civilised members more than the uncivilised ones by removing the vile element but she doesn’t. Instead she dismisses concerns with a smug cluck and dignifies these flying monkeys with the term ‘debaters’.

If you ask me it’s time for Roberts to call the bullies into her office to ask them what the frig they are playing at. She and her members wouldn’t stand bullying in their kids’ school yard so why are they so keen to preserve it on their much cherished parenting website? They say children turn out like their parents. Well if they turn out like the parents who infest Mumsnet it’s time for all of us to start worrying.

This entry was posted in Culture, Parenting, Public, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Playground Politics

  1. Angeline says:

    I found this with netmums.. I asked that they revoke my ability to post because I was getting warnings left right and centre but one person who was always offending people was not. She had been complained about many times and she liked to turn everything round and make it negative. It was sad that someone could try to get people arguing all of the time. I tend to stay away from message boards all together because as I realise people have different opinions etc, it always seems to be the trouble makers who get away with it and leaves me angry. I don’t need to be riled any more…the daily fail does that enough on a regular basis.

  2. Notmyyearoff says:

    This is exactly why I hate it too. Its not so much the pack of bitchy women because that’s bound to happen anywhere you put a whole lot of folk together to dish out advice, it’s the moderating. It serious lack of it! I read a thread just a couple of days ago and one person was allowed to go on and on with bitchy questions for about 24 hours. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t their first time as they kept going on about “the MumsNet rules” but they were just allowed to freely bitch. Urgggggghhhh!! It actually made me take off all the MumsNet blogger badges from my blog. Don’t think I’ll be visiting there again

  3. Rootietoot says:

    Unfortunately, real life isn’t that much different. People seem to take such terrible offense at folks who do things differently, as if by doing it differently you are automatically declaring that they are WRONG WRONG WRONG! I’ve run across a few parenting boards that are similar, and the worst offenders seem to be the Mommy Perfectionists (you know, baby-wearing-breastfeed-until-they’re-in-kindergarten-organic toys/cloths/food-only types.

  4. EdM says:

    Anyone who doesn’t immediately want to take a flamethrower to the place after one cursory glance at all the Darling Husband, DH, DD, DS fuckwittery is wrong in the head.

    • Andy says:

      So that’s what those abbreviations mean! I have seen other people use them and not known what they were talking about. I always learn shit when I visit the Kraken!

    • Kim says:

      Oh, c’mon, Ed. All that DH/DD stuff is intended ironically. The one thing you really can’t accuse Mumsnetters of is sentimentality. Viciousness, yes, sentimentality, no.

  5. Little Rascal Reviews says:

    I wonder if perhaps they’ve just got too big & are unable to manage/moderate their members in any meaningful way? So rather than admit the beast is out of control, they are simply chalking such incidents up to lively debate (not that this would be an acceptable excuse!). I luckily haven’t any personal experience of bullying online but it shouldn’t be any more acceptable and people any less accountable than bullying in any other form. It’s sad if people use such forums for a little moral support and right when they need some kind words the most, all they receive is vilification…nice

    • Muddling Along says:

      That’s an interesting point – because presumably the cost of moderation (unless they could persuade the members to do it for free) would be fairly unweildy given the size of the boards (and the vocal ones presumably wouldn’t be that keen on having their fiefdom moderated?)

  6. says:

    dreadful bunch of nasty hysterical harpies.stay away i say!

  7. Katie says:

    They petitioned to shut down my place of work. So yeh, not a fan.

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