Is Mumsnet sexist?

(154 Posts)

I was thinking of dad-specific threads (see other thread). I cant really think of any. But I have heard the odd complaint that male posters are treated with less respect than female ones. I've only experienced this once, but it would be interesting to know whether this is a common occurrence.

As a predominantly female user base, I would expect some gender bias towards women and so therefore against men. But to what extent does it occur?

As I said I've only ever experienced it once, so IME Mumsnet isnt Sexist.

I know, it sounds goady. But I would like to hear some opinion. I'm not sure either way.


caruthers Tue 03-Dec-13 19:21:57

To be fair i've seen a lot of casual sexism on mumsnet but I expected that considering the site is populated mainly by women.

I am a poster on a male dominated site and that site is littered with casual sexism too, and i expected that.

Sometimes it's hard to find a topic/thread that I can throw myself in to but have managed too eek out a posting history because of the volume of posts on here.

The OP has placed this post on the right section of the site to get alternative responses.

Kiwiinkits Tue 03-Dec-13 21:36:44

Yes, I find it sexist. Especially the relationships board which has a pronounced selection bias towards women who have had bad experiences with men and therefore lean toward the man-hating end of the spectrum

Kiwiinkits Tue 03-Dec-13 21:38:08

It's probably quite good for blokes to "feel how the shoe fits on the other foot" as it were

Juliet123456 Tue 03-Dec-13 21:58:53

Suggestions women should work part time but not men. Suggestions women after divorce should have more time with the children than men. Assumptions that men do less at home than women in terms of cleaning and cooking.

synplicity Tue 03-Dec-13 22:12:36

Mumsnet isn't sexist, but a lot of the mumsnetters are, countless times a thread has been posted about something someones OH has done and everyone jumps on it saying how bad it is, and a few days later another will pop up with the roles reversed and the OP gets praised. Sexism of the worst kind

Pan Tue 03-Dec-13 23:46:09

Evenin' Albert (and here's to 3 pts tomorrow?)

Sexism and discrimination? At risk of finding myself somewhere up my own rectum, I'd make a difference on a political level. That 'sexism' has a great definition from how society is structured in favour of men. Much in the same way that it is structured to favour white people. So, for me, to use the term 'sexism' on how a bloke has been treated, or 'racist' on how a white person has been treated, is questionable. So I make a distinction.

Having said this, I grew up in a time when 'disablist' or 'ageism' didn't exist as 1. disable people had no profile politically and 2. we didn't have an aging population, which we have now and so their needs were ignored, and so more unlike now because 'older people' have more economic power than they ever had before.

The defining test of racism was skin colour ie how far from 'white' are you? So anti-Irish discrimination was just that. Discrimination against Irish people rather than being 'racist', on the basis that we/they are white, but we just don't like them and will create myths around them.

The defining test of 'sexism' was more clearer. But the 'power dynamic' was largely the same but MUCH less obvious - it just was 'accepted' and few people complained. So then (and now as I see it) when a bloke observes 'sexism' against them, I baulk at it, because it doesn't carry the same weight - that the individual act/words may be discriminatory against them as a male, but it isn't being heavily conferred by how most males 'suffer' for being male in society as a whole.


Not sure how well I have explained that nor how far up my rectum I am.grin

LuisGarcia Wed 04-Dec-13 00:25:23

Clear enough to me, and I agree. There is cultural meaning beyond the literal in terms such as sexism and racism, and they are not easily turned around that way imo.

synplicity wrote Sexism of the worst kind. Really? You can't think of worse kinds?

Pan and Albert... who are your teams?

Pan Wed 04-Dec-13 00:31:16

Just the one team there, Luis - we are both Man United folk and we entertain Everton at O.T. tomorrow. It's going to be a looong

LuisGarcia Wed 04-Dec-13 00:33:12

An interesting one so far though. (Thread and season)

Pan Wed 04-Dec-13 00:38:49

We have a rolling footie thread over in Sports where people dip in and out, and a lot of it is Prem stuff, though atm we have a good thing going re League One, or as someone dubbed it 'La Liga 1' grin

LuisGarcia Wed 04-Dec-13 00:40:21

ok I'll take this there and not derail any more. Thanks!

BillyBanter Wed 04-Dec-13 00:40:58

Things I notice is the support, empathy and sympathy if the female OP has problems with her abusive* mother but if it's her abusive MIL posters often say the DH is weak, a coward, needs to grow some balls far more often. Of course some of this will be because they are talking about an unknown person rather than to an OP.

*toxic seems to be used more about mothers in preference to abusive - that's another thing I notice.

If a man complains about behaviour from their wife posters are more likely to ask if she might be depressed or have PND or be fearful of something. No one seems to ask if a badly behaved DH might be scared or depressed.
With this I suppose as with other threads posters bring their own experience to their content and so want to throw light on why the woman being complained about is acting as she is. They don't have experience of being a man.

Male OPs are quizzed on the truth of their words more often than female OPs. Again it's a mostly female board and there is a lot of experience of being female and having bad relationships with men. Although there is also plenty of complaints about female relatives. These toxic mothers and MILs and sisters and SILs are also very often wives and logic says they are probably also abusive to their spouses. There seems to be very little acknowledgement of this.

Again it's largely a female environment and the experience will be from the pov of living as women.

I'm a woman. I think I might change my name again to something less confusing.

gigglestar Wed 04-Dec-13 01:11:21

Seen lots of posts rampant with sexist/discriminatory attitude towards male op's-most recent one a few hours ago.

There is a huge difference compared to the advice and sympathy given to female op's in same situations....if the hypocritical/sexist mnetters are not blatantly discriminating against/cussing the male op they are doing it 'subtly'....i.e there must be a justfiable cause for her behaviour,is she depressed or feeling unsupported etc.

Even when it's plain obvious from the OP that the female in question is in the wrong the male op won't get fair/supportive posts straightaway-if any.

The few threads i've been on where this has happened are quite shocking. Thankfully, there have always been a few women who have come through for the op in the end.

All the more reason you guys should use this dadsnet more! [Grin]

I'll pm you a couple of threads if you're interested?

LuisGarcia Wed 04-Dec-13 01:33:47

Look, I'm sorry, but firstly, I can't take these accusations of difference in tone or advice from some initial posters seriously as examples of sexism, for the reasons Pan tried to explain above.

Secondly, "thankfully, there have always been a few women who have come through for the op in the end"

.... means the collective here is p good at not discriminating, as I said.

Thirdly, there is more to MN than relationships questions.

One or two forums being (possibly justifiably) suspicious of male posters does not justify calling MN sexist.

Pan - thanks for your detailed and eloquent explanation. It is very clear to me, and has given me good food for thought.

I would suggest that your points about "isms" against the majority certainly ring true for society as a whole. But where the microcosm of mumsnet is involved, does the "power dynamic" not sit firmly with the women on the site, and therefore sexism against men become the more prevalent form?

Thinking about it this way, does the panel think that a hypothetical Gaynet or Blindnet would therefore automatically discriminiate against those who post that arent gay or blind?

LuisGarcia Thu 05-Dec-13 00:25:22

does the panel think that a hypothetical Gaynet or Blindnet would therefore automatically discriminiate against those who post that arent gay or blind?

Well, I think it would depend on why the non gay or non blind person were posting, so no, not automatically, I guess, and ... well, those are interesting examples you've chosen, actually. If you were to go and post as a straight man on Gaynet, would you interpret any suspicion or hostility you encountered as to your motives for posting as some form of heterophobia? (even if you ignore that they might have regular incursions from Straights Rights Activists)

And if so, would you try and equate that "heterophobia" you were experiencing on that internet board with the homophobia the other members might routinely face in the real world?

On the other hand, do blind people face discrimination? (I don't know, it's a genuine question).

IslandMoose Thu 12-Dec-13 17:04:34

I agree with the contention that Mumsnet is not inherently sexist - I've certainly seen no evidence to support that. There is casual sexism (and, whilst I agree that "sexism" is a politically-loaded word, it is nevertheless accurate) but, again, I find it difficult to get worked up about that. The difference is that casual sexism aimed at men is (at worst) only damaging to the individuals involved - it doesn't validate and normalise a culture-wide probelm (which is arguably the case with sexism aimed at women).

If a particular example of sexism rankles, then call it out. Generally, provided you do so calmly and rationally, your contribution will get a positive response. There are exceptions (you'll get the usual cry of being a "what about the menz" poster) but really they are easily ascribed to specific posters rather than to a site-wide attitude.

Pan Thu 12-Dec-13 19:51:17

tbf the 'what about the menz' whine is often accurate, when for example anything being analysed referring to women being treated badly is met with 'we have it bad too you know' when mens' disadvantages are not the subject of discussion. But yes, 'sexism' individually annoying but not delivered with a societal weight that female's discrimination receives.

TheDoctrineOfSanta Thu 12-Dec-13 20:52:22

Yy Luis - sexism of the worst kind would be selective abortion of female foetuses, rape threats to women who speak out, enforced marriage etc.

"My husband doesn't understand me." "Leave the bastard."
"My wife doesn't understand me." "Have you tried working on your communication skills?"

AlbertGiordinHoHoho Fri 13-Dec-13 09:53:40

I don't think anyone would disagree with you Doctrine. On a societal basis, sexism against women is a large scale issue that needs to be properly addressed. The examples you give are not only horrific (in that they still exist in the modern day) but also have no male equivalent.

The validity of your points notwithstanding, I was hoping to keep the thread on purley an even keel with regards to gender discrimination against men (or other "majority" groups) on internet forums that have a distinct tone in favour of "minority" groups*.

*I'm not saying majority/minority viz men/women because I'm ignorant, I'm saying it becase I can't think (up too early with baby) of more suitable words.

AlbertGiordinHoHoho Fri 13-Dec-13 09:54:21


normalishdude Fri 13-Dec-13 14:44:17

the OP was given advice (LTB), which was subsequently changed when the poster found out OP was in fact a man (suggested that it might be at least in part his fault, and that he should take some responsibility for his partners behaviours).

Seen this kind of thing a couple of times too from one particular poster but it seems relatively infrequent....Over on Pistonheads, things are skewed as well.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Fri 13-Dec-13 15:03:56

I don't think I've ever seen advice change over the course of a thread when the gender of a poster was revealed.

I do think though, the examples Doctrine says (and I realise these are examples of something not so bad!) seem slightly fairer when you realise that women are far more likely than men to have received advice from other sources about how to "communicate with men" and perhaps even sought out this kind of advice themselves - books about "communicating with the opposite sex" are almost exclusively marketed at women even when they claim to be for both sexes. Of course this is anecdotal, but I think it is accurate. Women are seen as the ones who keep the relationship going.

Pan Fri 13-Dec-13 20:26:43

I think you've hit a hot spot there Bertie, imho. And it isn't only about the intimate 1 on 1 rels that women keep the relationships going. It;s also involving extended family needs and friends at times. We are, generally, quite poor at that, and the burden falls often on the female person. And often financially.(I;ve posted about this a few times and it isn't news just in, is it?).

We like having people we love around but it seems often we just don't prioritise the effort (and frankly it's no effort at all.)

But,re the gender of OPs being revealed and having a differing quality of response? Which MN cave exactly have you been living in? I don't post over in Rels often at all, but reading the stuff the profile of gender-difference in response is marked. Women get the 'that must be awful for you'. Men get the 'what the hell have you done, you insensitive bastard' sort of thing. I do have a post grad qualification in Genrealisations, but that one is fairly stark.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Fri 13-Dec-13 20:48:49

No, I agree there is definitely a general difference in the tone of replies. I haven't personally seen a thread where the tone of replies has changed after a gender has been revealed. For drip-feeding other information, yes, but I can't recall a gender one. I'm not saying it hasn't happened.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now