Married sex, the limits of hygiene, mothers’ fears and neuroses, the private names they have for genitals – there’s magic in among the horror

Since 2015 the Twitter account Mumsnet Madness has been documenting notable discussions from the site’s message boards. My recent favourites include the woman who “scalded her vagina with her own gas”, the one who, having organised a party for her nine-year-old DS (darling son) at Pizza Express, heard from another mother that her DD would only come if they changed the venue, as the girl “deeply opposes large corporate chains and prefers to support locally owned eateries”. And of course I look back with fond nostalgia at the famous “penis beaker” thread.

While I do enjoy its handy edit of the nuttier scrapings of the female mind, I sometimes read with one eye closed. The phrase “guilty pleasure” is one I’m loath to use, seeing as today it usually refers to “liking Abba” or “reading Marian Keyes” or something that feels so pure and joyful the user suspects they must be doing it wrong or else requires penance for such sweet jollity. But here it feels apt. Though I love a bitchy chuckle (also available for purchase as a regional drag name), my guilt comes from the knowledge that these women, with their baked-in passive aggression and fascination with semen, were posting on the Mumsnet message boards under the assumption their secrets would be read only by people in their own online community, rather than sneering onlookers like me, horrified mainly by the abbreviations.

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