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Health News

The dark side of Mumsnet: My shocking tour of the website’s nether regions

Could mothers really be as crude as this week’s stories implied? Tom Peck logged on – and soon lost his innocence

Welcome to “JUST SHAGGING PART 18”. It has taken less than three seconds to find Mumsnet’s so-called “hidden seedy underbelly.” It is not hidden. If it was once an underbelly, it has now been ripped off and surgically stapled to its forehead. Nor is it seedy in the sly-Soho-anorak-sitting-almost-unseen-in-the-corner sense of the word. It is uproariously blatant.

The all-powerful website, once the place for over-educated mums to alleviate the tedium of maternity leave by boring each other about their children, has branched into other areas.

Attention has recently been drawn to this after a forum entitled “Do you dunk your penis?” went viral – an unfortunate term when applied to genital hygiene. It saw a user by the name of SaraCrewe confess to having a “dedicated post-sex clean-up area on the bedside table”, including “a beaker of clean water for temporary cleaning/dunking while the bathroom is occupied by me.”

This was met with an unsurprisingly narrow range of responses, typified by RevelaRoulette: “That must be sexy. You do it then spring apart, you rush to the bathroom and he plunges his knob into a bucket.”

But the attention garnered by penis beaker has sent others scouring the site for such unsavoury material, this reporter included, and it isn’t hard to find. Like most illicit activities, the front of the website is almost too innocent. Stories about “10 great Guy Fawkes Night displays” and “Best cars for bigger families” fill up the homepage.

But two casual clicks takes you straight to the Conception forum, home of JUST SHAGGING PART 18.

Writer Tom Peck enjoys a surf on Mumsnet

It’s not quite 50 Shades of Grey. Amid talk of ovarian calendars, and OPKs (Ovulation Prediction Kits), JUST SHAGGING PART 18 is the established home for those who expound the more traditional conception method. “We are the ones who shag as much as our men can cope with in order to get upduffed without the stress of scientific whatnots.”

“Real Sex Tips” is where it all gets most, ahem, loose lipped. Lizzylou’s confession that “DH likes his knees kissed” is about the only repeatable line. “Lightshinesinthedarkness” is charmingly naïve: “I am serious btw, what is a cock ring?”

One user imparts the comparatively tame tip that “it is a little-known fact that men’s nipples are as sensitive to stimulation as a woman’s”, but alas she has already dropped the f-bomb in her username so it can’t be reprinted here. “Lightshines” is a lone lighthouse in a sea of filth, and a keen proponent of “Original Source Shower Gel”, though she fails to elucidate on what one is supposed to do with it.

Around 20 explicit themed threads have been started on the forum in the past month, a tiny fraction of the near 50,000 new discussions. To this end, gentlefolk who head there in search of titillation, beware. You are never more than two clicks away from a lengthy discussion on cervical mucus.

Mumsnet has some 4.3 million unique visitors each month, and 3,500 people keep blogs there. In February 2013 its founders Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton, were assessed as the seventh most powerful women in the UK by BBC Woman’s Hour. Does this smattering of filth concern Roberts?

“We’ve always been pleased to provide a go-to destination for straight answers,” she says.

“Mumsnet’s aim is to allow parents to anonymously share knowledge and advice and occasionally that includes advice about sex. We think that’s  all fine, and healthy and normal, as do our users.”

If some mumsnet users are horrified, none have complained. Perhaps, amidst all the depravity, it is with the partner of “Mamazon’’ where our sympathies should really lie. He has to get by with merely a “cowboy hat, cigar and a wink. Works every time.”