Here Be Dragons…

Life is about lessons from mistakes, and believe me, I have learned a few over my 40 years. After my job as the Communications Director of the Velux 5 Oceans wrapped up, I scored a ghostwriting book deal with Penguin this took 18 months. In this time I also conceived, gestated and birthed a second child – The Menace. As part of the promotion process it was suggested to me, by the commissioning editor, Rowland White, that we pimp the battlefield memoir out on a forum called ARRSE. Like a lamb to the slaughter, a very naive, and stupid, me entered the forum with the user name: ARRSE Bandit. I thought it was very funny. They thought I was a twat. They still think I am a twat.

In this time, a new digital communications platform evolved ‘Twitter’, and also blogging became more prominent. The world of digital was becoming relevant. As a professional practitioner of communications I realised that in the 18 months that it had taken to birth child, and a memoir, the communications landscape had changed rapidly. In order to stay abreast of the changes I needed to explore these formats and understand the operating procedures and cultures.

To cut a long story short, Bad CO, the owner of ARRSE, and I got chatting and we struck a mutually beneficial deal. During this time I also decided to grow my own blog. I began blogging as Clare Macnaughton but it wasn’t very well received as the blogosphere prefers the unwashed writer to have some sort of handle, or tag, and so this blog, A Modern Military Mother, was born. To me the blog was always about building a brand and using it as platform to write freely and honestly about my own experiences. The first rule of writing is to write about what you know and I know what it is like for ME to be married to a serving member of the military.

I have never said that I am the perfect military wife. In fact, I would say that I am a very flawed military wife. In fact, I am a wife, who doesn’t think she has a ‘place’ or a ‘role’ within the military. I don’t accept that being a ‘wife’ is a job. I hate the word ‘wife’. I think it is derogatory. I think misogyny is rife, especially in the military but also across the world. I am unashamedly and unapologetically a feminist. I consider myself, and all women, equal to men. I am delighted that I don’t live in military quarters anymore, although I did enjoy the years that I did. I love that I have the freedom to conduct my life away from the community but my experiences and my voice is valid. I don’t represent the spouse community and I speak for myself.

PT Barnum said ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ not me. The quote that I have referred to is Oscar Wilde’s ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’

In the end I threw in the towel. They beat me. They won. I no longer visit these forums. I only know about these threads below because they were picked up on a ping back that was sent to my email address automatically.

The lesson that I have learned the most from working with forums on the Internet is DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS – no matter how tempting it is to engage with them you absolutely must not. These places where folk hide their identities behind anonymous user names while communicating are like ‘crack cocaine’- it’s highly addictive; but very bad for you and not worth it.

Here are two shining examples of forum conduct and behaviour:

Rear Party – It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

ARRSE – Cancel The Boil Eggs

[This thread has now been removed by the site owners]

I dare you to read them but I warn you – ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!


  1. I’ll give the forums a miss, methinks. Got enough flamers at work without engaging with people who can are only brave with a mouse in their hand!

  2. I think what could have been one of the greatest tools for enlightenment is more used as a means to bully, intimidate,abuse and insult. It was telling when a survey was done last year asking if internet bullying should be made illegal, the response was a resounding no. I’m hard pushed to think of any forum I’ve come across that is any different to these two. They all have their terms and conditions regarding abusive behaviour yet are happy to let their contributors break them providing it suits their purpose and sadly, if you put yourself in the public domain, you have to expect this sort of thing. You should try some of the France forums. Vile places! Same for comment pages on websites, blogs, newspapers, Facebook, twitter, yada yada yada. The digital age has made us much nastier people

    1. Yes – I am under no illusion that this is a product of my own making. I think the anonymity of the whole process enables folk to tap into their inner bigot. It’s a modern day Klu Klux Klan – folk hiding themselves in cloaks and masks and then behaving deplorably. But not having the courage to stand up, identified and say what they have to say. I am not anonymous and I am not a coward. I don’t hide behind avatars to take cheap shots at people. I take my cheap shots in the open, named and shamed 🙂 Nobody is perfect. It is hard not to bite – it takes great inner resolve. Who are these people anyway? They don’t matter. Onwards and upwards.

  3. I must say, Claire, that you have brought a lot of the attention on ARRSE on yourself.

    You have chosen to live your life publicly on this blog and the RAF News, so you are now a public figure to the posters on ARRSE. You can’t have it both ways. You claim to be a professional communicator – this is the result of yuor actions.

    IMHO, your ideology is very suspect. you claim that ‘I think misogyny is rife, especially in the military but also across the world’ but in the next breath ‘I am unashamedly and unapologetically a feminist’. How misandrist is that attitude!

    If you truly believed in equality you would be neither a feminist nor a masculinist. You would just be a person. (And don’t try to reinforce the fallacy that feminism is about true equality for men and women – modern feminism focuses purely on dogmatic and specious arguments).

    This is the ground truth: men and women are not equal. Never will be. Everyone is different and has varying skills and weaknesses, so there can never be equality for all people. I would prefer to see FAIR treatment under the law, than some crypto-stalinist quota system for every job or part of public life. (I can’t have babies but you can – where’s the equality in that?)

    I prefer the system we have at the moment, where all people have equal protection under the law: women and men are completely protected from every type of real and imaginary discrimination at work and in public life. If the law is broken, the transgressor gets punished – end of story.

    So there you have it – a lot of your worries are merely rooted in some Greer/Dworkin-esque world of perceived inequality.

    I hope you let this post stand – after all, censorship is not very equal or fair is it?

    1. Hi Ben, thank you for your comments and welcome to the blog.

      As I said in the comment below, and in the post, I absolutely recognise my role in the attention. Your point about it being my responsibility is not under dispute.

      I don’t think the attitude is misandrist as I don’t specifically refer to the male gender as the perpetrators of the misogyny but state that this is cultural perspective within the organisation.

      I do truly believe in equality. I believe that equal doesn’t mean the same. Salt and pepper are equal but they are not the same.
      It’s encouraging that you can identify that men and women are not equal. I agree but believe that they should be. The balance is so far tipped in the male favour that the need for an extreme response is required to shift the balance to a more centred position. Hence, my feminist position. I would also like to see fair treatment. I do, however, support the need for hierarchy and leadership but this should not be impacted by gender discrimination but by ability. I also believe in the right person for the right job.

      The law is an ass and the system is flawed. I am not sure why you think I would censor you. I enjoy debate. I do note that you ‘tell’ me it how it is and with that in mind I’d would like to say thank you for an interesting and insightful comment.

  4. By censorship I meant deleting my post because my views conflicted with yours. I’m glad you didn’t.

    “The balance is so far tipped in the male favour that the need for an extreme response is required to shift the balance to a more centred position” – this is what I have a major problem with…this is the intellectual version of “two wrongs make a right because I say so”. This is a very sinister and Orwellian method of ‘correcting’ a perceived imbalance.

    The reason that women are underrepresented in government, business and the military is that many women don’t want to juggle babies and a career. The few that do…do! It’s maths!

    1. You are so very wrong but I can’t be bothered to get into via my comments because you clearly think you know it all. Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for taking the time to comment. Sounds to me like you’ll soar to the dizzy heights of leadership in the RAF. I hope you find/have a doting partner to make a nice home for you.

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