I recently posted a blog piece http://j4mb.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/culturally-sanctioned-child-abuse/ concerning a comment made in a discussion thread on Mumsnet, a British website targeted at mothers. The comment on Mumsnet read:
I’m a 45 year old mother with a son (13) and daughter (15). We go swimming most weeks and we use the family change room, the showers are communal, where I make my son shower nude. We all use the same cubicle when changing but I make my son change first then make him leave so my daughter and I can get changed without my son seeing us nude. Should I show more dominance towards my son or is this enough to show my daughter that women are in charge?
Following my posting of the piece, someone left a comment pointing out that the actions of the mother could be considered abuses of both the son and daughter under UK law, so last night I brought this to the attention of the CEO/Co-Founder of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts email@example.com. The following is the full transcript of our email exchange (Ms Roberts’s emails are indented, for the sake of clarity):
Justine, good evening. I thought you’d wish to be alerted to a comment made in response to our blog post earlier today:
(The response from Ms Roberts this morning):
Mike, the post in question was not real – it was from a pervy troll. (Best not to believe everything you read on the internet!)
Justine, how can you be sure it’s a ‘pervy troll’? I understand that the authorities can track people down by their email addresses. Are you going to put this in the hands of the authorities?
Definitely a troll. He/she started more than one conversation – all highly inflammatory and pervy.
Thanks Justine, but this doesn’t mean s/he can’t be tracked down by the authorities, visited by them, and given a caution at the very least. I’m sure you’d want this if it were a man purporting to treat his 13yo daughter in this way, as I would. Are you prepared to inform the authorities accordingly?
Mike it’s a troll – it’s not true! Unfortunately trolling happens a lot….
So, let me get this straight. Just because you think it’s a ‘pervy troll’, you’re not prepared to inform the authorities? As you’ll see from the comment on my blog piece, female abuse of children is probably as common as male abuse of children. If you’re not willing to inform the authorities, then we will. And I’ll update my blogs with the gist of this exchange. Please let me know.
Mike – I can’t help feeling you’re being deliberately obtuse.
To be clear, we don’t take these things lightly at all but it is absolutely crystal clear that this poster – who has posted multiple times each time with different outlandishly perverted and inflammatory stories – is a troll. Informing the authorities would be an utter and complete waste of their and my time (as indeed this conversation is increasingly proving to be!)
If you publish this exchange – it would be great if you’d publish it in full so no one can get the wrong end of the stick,
Justine, I assure you I am NOT being ‘deliberately obtuse’. I am not willing to take the risk that you are wrong, and that a woman is abusing both her son and daughter. Could you please inform me of the police jurisdiction in which you’re based, so I can inform the relevant authorities, and ask them to pursue this matter? Thank you.
(I had no response to the last email, so two hours later I sent the following).
Justine, good afternoon. For the avoidance of doubt, can I assume that you’re no longer going to reply to my emails? I’ll assume this is the case if I don’t hear from you by 5pm today. Thank you.
(Having had no response three and a half hours after my deadline, I plan to visit my local police station tomorrow morning to ask that this matter be investigated. I’ll keep you updated with developments.)