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I've asked MNHQ...

(454 Posts)
ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 25-Jul-13 17:02:10

.....if we can have a little 'note' at the top of the Stepparenting board, with a list of acronyms that cause offence - to ensure that posters get support and threads aren't sidetracked by inadvertent use of common phrases that are less welcome here on MN;

UC Thu 25-Jul-13 18:10:52

Good idea.

bigredbaboonsbottom Thu 25-Jul-13 18:25:29

As new poster who made a mistake, that would be helpful, thank you. blush

Fairy130389 Thu 25-Jul-13 18:51:48

The difficulty is though, who decides which phrases are offensive? It could end up a very long list! Good idea though

brdgrl Fri 26-Jul-13 00:42:54

Aw, bigred, don't be upset, please!

AnnabelleLee Fri 26-Jul-13 00:50:05

I think that it might be a good idea, but your motivation is arseways. It's not that, as you imply, that some people here are over-sensitive or silly, its that they are right. "Birth mum" in the context you are using it in is bloody awful, to pretty much everyone, not just to the PO.

brdgrl Fri 26-Jul-13 01:02:05

The problem is, AnnabelleLee, that people are jumping on new posters to tell them, in a really aggressive manner, that they're being offensive, when there is nothing else offensive about the OPs, and no sign of any intent to cause deliberate offense - just a lack of awareness about this protocol.

Women are coming on and posting about their problems - one recently saying that she was in tears over the difficulties in her family and considering ending her relationship! - and instead of being met with support and kindness (and maybe a helpful pointer about the accepted terms) they're getting snarky attitude and aggression. That is bloody awful.

AnnabelleLee Fri 26-Jul-13 01:11:21

It's not a lack of awareness of "protocol" thats my point, if you use offensive and weird terminology people are going to point it out, what do you think will happen? Stop blaming the people you've offended, its disingenuous.
And a stepmother using the word "birth-mother" to describe their stepkids mother is causing her own problems, in fact its highly indicitive of them.

allnewtaketwo Fri 26-Jul-13 07:00:02

"It's not a lack of awareness of "protocol" thats my point, if you use offensive and weird terminology people are going to point it out, what do you think will happen? Stop blaming the people you've offended, its disingenuous"

The OP clearly started this thread to STOP these arguments and aggression, yet Annabelle you seem hell bent on kicking it off again. Why is that? You felt the need to argue in the early hours of the morning hmm

Good idea OP

ChinaCupsandSaucers Fri 26-Jul-13 07:15:55

annabella The term is used as standard convention on many other forums though, and even listed in 'FAQs' and 'abbreviation' lists on some sites.
On some (American) sites the acronym BM is also used to describe 'baby-moma' and is often used by Dads to describe their partners, and parents to describe their daughter.

Unsurprising then that new MN members who have previously used those other sites are unaware of the distasteful nature of the phrase when they have been actively encouraged to use it by the moderators and members of other forums wink

I think there is an element of Stepparenting double standards at play again - I have sat on my hands repeatedly when the term OW is used (particularly on the LP and AIBU boards) to describe a Stepmum when it is clear that the marriage has been over for some years. It is rude and offensive in my opinion but I don't point this out on every thread it is used on, I accept that is the way the MNer who has used it views their DCs stepmum.

purpleroses Fri 26-Jul-13 07:24:24

I think I'd be quite shock in real life if a step mum refered to her DSC's mum (who wasn't dead or out of contact) as their birth mother.

Appreciate what you're trying to do but do think that finding the term inappropriate in that sort of context is not just some querk of MN

allnewtaketwo Fri 26-Jul-13 07:29:12

I do think that abbreviations are used on sites to avoid typing words though, rather than an indication of terms you use in real life. So for example, I don't refer to my DScs in real life as DSCs, I refer to them either by name, or as my husbands children for example.

I very very much doubt that first time posters come on here and deliberately use the term to offend. Hence the OPs suggestion is a good one. Yet predictably, this has started another argument.

FrauMoose Fri 26-Jul-13 07:33:13

What's wrong with the term Birth Mother? Is it that outside these forums it's more commonly used for children who have been adopted, so it reduces the role of the parent to the provider of a convenient womb space?)

I personally though would never describe my spouse/partner - who I'm married to - as a 'DH'. Nor would I describe any of the children as my life as a DD/DSD/DSS. It just seems to reduce them to stereotypes. However I understand other people will choose to do that because it's quicker when using a keypad.

I tend to avoid abbreviations, but it doesn't seem realistic to ask everyone else to do so.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Fri 26-Jul-13 07:37:34

Perhaps a pertinent question is to ask how many of those people who are offended by the phrase use other parenting/Stepparenting forums and how do they respond to the use of the phrase when its use is actively encouraged?

It certainly isn't a reflection of terms used in RL - I personally think the term DC/DD/DS is twee and afectatious and would poke hot forks in my eyes if I were in conversation with anyone who actually referred to their darling/dear children in that way - but I accept it is internet shorthand wink

AntoinetteCosway Fri 26-Jul-13 07:42:20

Why is OW offensive? If you broke up a marriage, you are the other woman. Forever.

TobyLerone Fri 26-Jul-13 07:43:06

'Birth mother' is fine in the context of adoption, if the (adoptive) mother of the child wants to use it.

In the context of stepparents, the child already has a mother. It doesn't need differentiating. There is only one mother (and father). It can come across as if the stepparent is trying to dilute the (actual, only) parent's role. Exactly like the 'womb space' thing.

AntoinetteCosway Fri 26-Jul-13 07:45:51

To clarify, the passage of time doesn't make breaking up someone's marriage stop being dreadful and if you were the 'other woman' with half the responsibility then that doesn't stop being the case.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Fri 26-Jul-13 07:56:18

antoinette On MN, it is accepted convention to use the term OW in reference to a mans subsequent partner/DCs stepmum, regardless of timing. ExW frequently refer to their exH 'new girlfriend' and 'OW' interchangeably even when the 'new' relationship has begun several years after the marriage ended!

It bewildered me for a long time, but it's commonly used on some boards on MN wink

TobyLerone Fri 26-Jul-13 07:57:01

I think the point re 'OW' was perhaps that sometimes it is used to mean someone the ex is now in a relationship with, who had nothing to do with the breakup.

TobyLerone Fri 26-Jul-13 07:57:26

X-posted smile

FrauMoose Fri 26-Jul-13 07:58:08

To me the 'Other Woman' label seems to fit quite well when two people are still married but the man is involved in an extra-marital affair. It seems less fitting when the original marriage is over and a new committed relationship has been formed.

I may be a little sensitive on this point. I formed a relationship with someone after he and his wife had made a mutual decision to separate. She promptly informed all her friends that I'd be 'the first of a string of unsuitable girlfriends' and persuaded some of them not to speak to me in the school playground, to withdraw invitations to barbecues etc etc. She will still not speak to me or make eye contact with me. However my husband and I have been together for seventeen years - much longer than their original, troubled marriage - and I've looked after the children of that earler marriage to the very best of my ability.

(Admittedly she is equally vile to my husband, does not communicate important information about the children to him, and will only speak to him to shout at him or tell him what he's doing wrong.)

But to her, I suspect, I shall anything other than the Other Woman. God forbid that I should be a proper person!

ChinaCupsandSaucers Fri 26-Jul-13 07:59:41

toby are you willing to accept that you POV is just that, an opinion?
And that socially, your opinion is not universal - hence other sites use the phrase 'BM' widely?

And if that is the case, can you understand why someone new to MN may not know that it is considered offensive?

ediblewoman Fri 26-Jul-13 08:09:51

Dear God what is it with these sanctimonious serial complainers! We've acknowledged BM is offensive and the OP has suggested a way of ensuring it isn't used and still with the attacks. I am heartily sick if the constant bloody negativity toward Step Parents on MN and MNtowers seeming inability to address it.

And btw OW is very offensive to someone who was in no way implicated in the end of the relationship. I met my now DH two years after his exP left him for another man if she ever suggested I was the OW I'd be furious but do I jump on any poster who uses it in that way? No, because it wouldn't be helpful or make them change how they felt, in fact it would probably just entrench their position.

Kaluki Fri 26-Jul-13 08:11:56

To me the term BM for mother is like using the term 'sperm donor' for father.
As many of us stepmothers on here also have dc of their own it is offensive to use BM to describe a child's actual mum.

TobyLerone Fri 26-Jul-13 08:16:25

I can't imagine that anyone with any common sense or decent grasp of the English language wouldn't know that it would be offensive. And it seems that many who use it have an agenda.

I don't use other sites. And I think that it's definitely closer to fact than opinion that the woman who gave birth to a child doesn't need to be described as the 'birth mother' of that child in an instance such as this.

But yes, I understand that some people are wilfully stupid, some are deliberately ignorant, and some make genuine mistakes because they don't think before they speak/type.
I don't think a 'note' at the top of the page telling people things they should or should not say is a good idea. I prefer that the aforementioned people identity themselves to me as such by the things that they say, so that I may avoid them in future. I don't enjoy being told what to do/say because I am not a child. Neither should anyone else.

Sometimes existing users of the boards here can be very quick to jump on new users for making a mistake. If everyone was a bit more 'gentle' in their tellings-off, perhaps fewer people would be upset. Certain boards on MN are especially 'touchy' (for various, understandable reasons), and this is one of them. And certain frequenters of said boards seem to enjoy designating themselves the position of Thread Police.

That is why I tend to avoid such boards!

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