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.