A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
“Childish, Self-Centered, and Cruel” : Classed Disgust, Maternal Complaint, and Mediated Morality in an Anonymous Online Discussion Board (2023)

Mustosmäki, A., & Sihto, T. (2023). “Childish, Self-Centered, and Cruel” : Classed Disgust, Maternal Complaint, and Mediated Morality in an Anonymous Online Discussion Board. In M. Ryynänen, H. Kosonen, & S. Ylönen (Eds.), Cultural Approaches to Disgust and the Visceral (pp. 59-73). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003205364-8

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Mustosmäki, Armi; Sihto, Tiina

Parent publication: Cultural Approaches to Disgust and the Visceral

Parent publication editors: Ryynänen, Max; Kosonen, Heidi; Ylönen, Susanne

ISBN: 978-1-032-06378-2

eISBN: 978-1-003-20536-4

Publication year: 2023

Publication date: 25/08/2022

Pages range: 59-73

Number of pages in the book: 242

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003205364-8

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82871


In December 2017, Finnish celebrity Sini Ariell published a blog post revealing the negative feelings she had experienced as the mother of a newborn. The post went viral, sparking moral outrage in Finnish digital media forums. In our affective-discursive analysis, we trace the reactions of disgust that appeared in an online discussion generated by Ariell’s post. Paying attention to how disgust was attached to different bodies, objects, and signs, we identify three main targets of disgust: 1) Ariell herself; 2) public maternal complaint; 3) “perfect mothers” and pronatalism. Classed disgust toward Ariell arose from details such as her body, her makeup and tattoos, and her public display of everyday choices that came to represent her “failure” as a mother. Another object of disgust was public maternal complaint: the public “oversharing” of matters considered to be private. This “oversharing” was blamed for damaging the “brand” of family life and leading to declining birth rates. However, disgust was also mobilized to push the discussion in new directions. “Perfect motherhood” became an object of disgust because “perfect mothers” were seen as inauthentic - hiding the negative feelings that were inherent to motherhood. We read this online discussion of Ariell herself, public maternal complaint, and “perfect mothers” as symptomatic of an explosion of anxiety about contemporary motherhood and declining fertility. By analyzing the transmission of affect in an online discussion, our chapter sheds light on how disgust is variously mobilized not only to maintain the existing moral and social order, but also to challenge it.

Keywords: maternity; mothers; online discussion; message boards; public discussion; public figures; morals; attitudes; emotions; aversion

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2023

Preliminary JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2023-03-04 at 09:31