How One Man Got a Group of Moms Kicked Offline
In the past, if you wanted a safe place to crack wise about parenting and mock the ubiquitous mommy support groups, you might have considered joining the 23,000-strong private Facebook community Mommy Wars. “It was a group of friends and people who just liked to lurk and laugh and let loose,” member Kylie Ungewitter explained to The Daily Dot. Another mom, who asked to remain anonymous, added it was “a mom group where you can talk about your kids being little sh*ts, and not get people posting links to ‘language use around your children hurts their IQ.'” It was a place to post satirical, trolly questions, like if the father of a woman’s baby was her husband or… a horse.
This story started with a satirical post — which The Daily Dot says was a routine for Fridays — asking: “What do you do while your spouse is away? I am having a very hard time with all of this. I ‘met’ this wonderful guy online, and he really wants to meet up. Is it wrong enough of me to do so while my man is deployed?”
Ungewitter told The Daily Dot that respondents were immediately in on the joke. But unfortunately, one man named Shane Presley saw screenshots of this post on a Facebook page called OSMW, and he decided that he did not find adultery — especially cheating on a spouse in the military — to be funny. Further, that meant no one else was allowed to either. Not only that, but he decided the women must be punished for their joke.
He reportedly then posted his own screenshots, saying he did it “because adultery, whether or not real nor fake, is nothing to joke about, and it is a punishable crime within the military laws.” It actually isn’t — The Daily Dot points out that adultery is a crime only for members of the military, but not their spouses and, even then, in 2002, President Bush signed an order that discouraged adultery prosecutions for anyone.
Presley’s post appears to have hit a nerve in virulent men, and it was eventually shared over 43,000 times, finally ending up on an anti-feminism site appropriately named Age of Sh*tlords (click at your own discretion). The founder of Age of Sh*tlords confessed to The Daily Dot that he found a way to get access to the private group. From there, the women from the Mommy Wars group were hunted down one by one, receiving vile threats to both themselves and their children. Eventually, one irate man claiming to be a military insider said he had submitted all the women’s names to the Army Knowledge Online database, threatening to inform their husbands of their infidelity and kick them out of their homes “within 24 hours.” Nevermind that no one had actually committed adultery or that only two of the moms (and not even the one who posted the original parody post!) were married to soldiers. But that’s besides the point, because the hate campaign resulted in what it ostensibly set out to do: shutter a women’s online community.
Even though the group of moms told The Daily Dot that they will reassemble on a different platform under a different name, it’s one more safe space, in a place that already has so few for mothers, that has been lost forever.
This is a perfect and unfortunate example of how precarious women’s safety can be on the Internet. All it takes is one guy who feels he has the right to “mansplain” motherhood to moms, dictating what our experiences, words, and even feelings should be to ruin lives.
(h/t The Daily Dot)