ASA adjudication on Fathers4Justice ad marks Pyrrhic victory for Mumsnet

I’m not surprised the Advertising Standards Authority has banned this cheery Fathers4Justice national press ad.

Headlined “Say it with hate this Mother’s Day”, the ad came out on Friday, March 16th. The ad shows a picture of a toddler with verbal abuse written all over his body , which included ‘pig’, ‘rioter’, ‘deadbeat’ and ‘wife beater’

The text states: “Fathers4Justice are writing to all advertisers this Mother’s Day to inform them that the Mumsnet web site carries abusive and distressing anti-male content which promotes gender hatred against men and boys. We believe that the general sexist labelling of men and boys as ‘rapists’, ‘paedophiles’ and ‘wife beaters’ is as unacceptable and offensive as racism and homophobia. Fathers4Justice are asking advertisers to suspend their advertising on Mumsnet until founder Justine Roberts adopts a zero tolerance policy to gender hatred. Promote a message of love, not hate this Mother’s Day. Join our boycott of Mumsnet at”.

The ASA rejected the ad on the grounds that Mumsnet was not responsible for endorsing some of the more loony gender-stereotyping that appears on its site from time to time (CAP Code rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation)).

As ever with these things, the ASA is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Although the ad will never reappear in its current form, it has already had some effect, to the extent that Mumsnet seems to have become more vigilant in patrolling its content. Who, after all, would wish to draw advertisers’ attention to such unpleasantness? Which may well encourage F4J to have another pop. Albeit using milder semiotics.

2 Responses to ASA adjudication on Fathers4Justice ad marks Pyrrhic victory for Mumsnet

  1. Camilla Willson says:

    Hi there, this blog is factually wrong in its suggestion that Mumsnet “seems to have become more vigilant in patrolling its content”. Mumsnet’s moderation policy remains as it ever was – ie we delete posts that are reported if they break our forum guidelines, which include no gender hatred.

    • stuartsmithsblog says:

      Fair enough. What the ASA said about Mumsnet was: “Mumsnet said that their forums regularly received over 25,000 posts per day and while it was not possible to monitor all of these posts, they relied on users of the forum to report any content that they considered to be offensive, which Mumsnet would then delete if it breached their terms of use. We contacted Mumsnet who reiterated that they did not tolerate any kind of prejudice on the site and this included any kind of gender bias but users did need to bring this to their attention if action was to be taken.”

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