So last week EYEstumbled across a self-identifying nest of vaping vipers.
Apparently this won’t remotely be new news to many but even so, it surprised the hell out of me and, to be completely honest, it made my flesh creep.
I have the Home Office’s #DisrespectNoBody television advert to thank for my experience. To date there has been very little media coverage about the campaign so consequently when I googled it the first thing I was signposted to was a discussion thread about it on a popular chat forum.
Opened at the end of February the ‘am I being unreasonable to think the Disrespect NoBody ad campaign is horribly sexist?‘ discussion thread was already 41 pages long by the time I came across it. Based on the first page the general consensus seemed to be that the ‘OP’ (original poster) was indeed being entirely unreasonable and more than a little bit ‘what about teh menz‘.
Why do you think it’s sexist OP? It isn’t a matter of opinion that almost all victims of dv are women. It’s fact. StereophonicallyChallenged
For the Uninitiated you can find out more about the campaign here. Long story short, whilst some of the campaign literature is refreshingly gender inclusive, the TV advert is the latest in a depressingly long list messages and media coverage that present the issue of relationship abuse in a depressingly one sided, gender exclusive way.
EYEthink the advert’s message is (ahem) problematic, not least because it is aimed at children between the age of 12 to 18 and fully funded by the tax payer. At the time of writing, the very vast majority of people contributing to their campaign twitter hashtag shared my perspective, which hopefully supports the possibility that I’m not a ‘complete misogynistic arse‘ for thinking this.
I loathe “what about the menz” whingers. Are 2 men every week killed by their partners or ex partners? NO. ZiggyFartdust – Mumsnet
The cold, certain and entirely uncompromising tone of some of the posters didn’t entirely surprise. On my one previous visit last autumn I experienced similar short shrift after posting something in the dads section of mumsnet.
I was sympathetic to the OP’s perspective and given that I already had a user account decided to post a quick message of support.
Unfortunately I was unable to.
I was unable to because, quite remarkably, it turned out that some of the dear daughters of mumsnet had taken time out of their busy schedule to filibuster the discussion into touch by talking about biscuits until they’d reached the maximum number of comments and closed the thread.
Which was nice.
It’s absolutely disgusting how many women have been laughing at men just on this thread alone. You treat men – all men as evil. That’s wrong. You treat victims of abuse as being illegitimate and mad. That is wrong and abusive.
I’m shocked. Really shocked by the terrible cruelty here. Mums net User
This struck me as extraordinarily mean spirited and childish behaviour from adult users of a parenting site so I decided to open a second thread.
I asked that the thread only be used to discuss the advert and respectfully requested that anyone wanting to talk about biscuits or try to control a discussion about people who display abusive and controlling behaviours should start their own thread.
Within a couple of hours there were 50 mostly negative and / or biscuit related comments and soon after the thread was ‘nixed’.
Before they pulled the plug I asked the moderators to comment on what appeared to be pretty obvious silencing tactics. Something which stuck me as beyond irony given the subject matter of the discussion. I also asked them to comment on why they decided to delete the thread and three days later I was still waiting for a reply.
Netiquette: Mumsnet Talk is not a pre-moderated forum. Our policy is to keep intervention to a minimum and let the conversation flow. That said, we will use our discretion to delete posts (or ban posters) if it seems to us that doing so is in keeping with this aim. Mumsnet Talk Guidelines
I had been aware that some people have accused the UK’s most famous parenting chat forum of being a tad man hatey in the past but until now I had no idea exactly how much of a nasty reputation they really have and why.
‘When you’re on the receiving end of so much hate, you can’t just log off and laugh it away’ I was physically shaking and felt sick. Sandra – Former Mumsnet User
So I had a second read through Mumsnet Talk guidelines and had a second go at opening a discussion thread. This time I even divided my contributions into three different posts to limit the possibility of moderation.
I was conscious that one comment could potentially be perceived as implied criticism of MM’s moderation, which is something that some self identifying libertarian chat forums often seem to have zero tolerance for.
For this precise reason I purposely separated it from my other two posts that were: 1) a short opening post simply inviting comments and 2) some background details about the campaign, the criticism it has received on social media and signposting to Government data that goes some way to explaining why lots of people think it’s message is unhelpfully gender exclusive.
In an effort to appear as uninflamitary as possible (under the relatively odd circumstances) I also stated clearly that I would not be participating in any subsequent discussion and had said all that I wanted to say.
Despite all this a whole page was very quickly populated with entirely negative and hateful responses. The entire thread was deleted within about an hour but not before the Biscuit Boden Mafia had hung out their ‘cunt bunting‘ and started a virtual street party to celebrate the fact that the ‘misogynistic arse‘ had left the building.
The following day I finally got a response from Mumsnet HQ about my first thread which (sort of) answered the questions I had put to them.
Their response wasn’t entirely unreasonable but they completely side stepped the concerns I had raise and instead only advised that the the thread was ‘nixed’ because they had several reports from Mumsnetters who found the OP post to be deliberately inflammatory and that while they ‘always welcome robust debate‘ they draw the line at threads that are ‘on the goady side’.
I’m not sure if they consider a virtual display of ‘cunt bunting‘ to be a bit on the goady side but I’ve asked for clarification and if / when I get a response you can follow the correspondence here.
EYEwon’t be going back to Mumsnet. For one, I have absolutely no interest in getting into a bun fight with adult users of a discussion forum presented primarily as focused on parenting. But more importantly, for the first time since I started this project, I genuinely felt both physically and mentally sickened by the experience and my mother taught me that when you meet people who make you feel like that then you should make every effort to avoid them in the future.
After reading this you may agree that I was being unnecessarily ‘goady’ so what else should I have expected but, in my humble subjective opinion, mumsnet’s seemingly legendary bullying culture clearly says something about something and is terrifyingly ironic under the circumstances.
Two-thirds of the girls and a third of the boys reported experiencing emotional violence, most often controlling behaviour. Disrespect NoBody Guide (Page 1).