Got MILF?

March 17, 2008

Monday morning post-caffeination confession: I hate the term ‘MILF.’

I know that there are a lot of moms out there who’ve appropriated the term and use it as a term of self-empowerment, especially in the context of maintaining some pride in appearance, (which I’m all for, notwithstanding certain evidence to the contrary) but still: I hate it.

It’s not that I think moms shouldn’t regard themselves as – to use the vernacular – f*ckable. Moms are eminently f*ckable, and usually have demonstrated themselves as such in the most convincing way possible: by bearing the children that unadulterated, unhindered f*cking yields. What I reject is the idea – the idea that I think underscores and gives the term ‘MILF’ its force – that mothers, as a group, are ordinarily so obviously unf*ckable that society needs a whole separate category and term for mothers who escape that norm. To say something along the lines of ‘her? Oh, she’s a MILF, totally’ is really to say, ‘her? She’s not like other mothers, who are, as a group, entirely sexually unappealing. SHE’s a woman one could see banging DESPITE the fact that she’s had children!’

Which, you know, is – obviously – demeaning to mothers, and to women generally. (Also? Referring to one’s self as a MILF? Grammatically confusing. Unless you are suggesting that you would totally be into doing yourself – as the use of the personal pronoun, signified by the ‘I’ in MILF, implies – which you might, in which case, more power to you – you should avoid the term. Just say, I AM HOT. That tells us everything we need to know.) Not because it categorizes some of us as sex objects – objecting to objectification is, really, a little bit futile in a society that frames the Pussycat Dolls as an example of feminine empowerment – but because it does, simply, categorize us on the basis of our sexuality and organize that categorization according to the assumption that mothers are ordinarily not f*ckable.

Which is bullshit. I might not be at the peak of my primping powers – and I may, in fact, be too goddammed cranky these days to be sexually approached without extreme caution – but damn if I couldn’t if I wanted to. I am far more interesting as a sexual being having had children – I’ve looked at sex from both sides nowwwww – than I was in my days of undimpled thighs and bra-optional t-shirts and forty-dollar lipsticks. So I resent feeling that I have to carry some outmoded idea of moms as asexual creatures in high-waisted jeans on the back of my psyche, and I resent even more the idea that I can only release the weight of that load if I beat it away with some titty-hoisting bra while proclaiming, loudly, to the world, that horny young men everywhere should want a piece of me. (They should want a piece of me – that, I think, goes without saying – but that shouldn’t be the measure of my physical and sexual worth.)

If it’s good enough for Tori Spelling, it’s not good enough for me. Because, you know, shouldn’t we be reaching a little higher (and deeper) than silicone and tank tops in our quest to feel good about our bodies and our sexuality as mothers? As women?

Or am I just too jacked up on coffee and hormones this morning to think straight?

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    { 66 comments }

    Karen March 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    seriously, thank you. I’ve hated that term for a while now, but hadn’t gotten round to put my thinking cap on and explain my feelings to myself. Now you have saved me all that thinking, which rocks – for me.

    Ree March 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Actually, I think you’ve got a great perspective on this whole thing! Yay you!

    mrsmogul March 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I don’t like that term either! I let my toddler watch Family Guy too, is that worse??

    Dana March 17, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    AMEN.

    Girl con Queso March 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Preach. It. Sister.

    If it’s good enough for Tori Spelling, it’s not good enough for me.

    Best sentence I’ve read all day.

    Beck March 17, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Fantastic post. I know a woman who has the goal of having her young son’s future teenaged friends want her. What a noble freaking aim.

    Anonymous March 17, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    it seems like in the middle you don’t object to objectification, and then at the end you object to it. otherwise interesting though.

    flutter March 17, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Actually the origin of it, is from teenagers, meaning moms that are hot that they’d like to nail.

    So it’s not even though you’ve had a kid you’re hot, it’s “Dude, your mom is a MILF!!”

    Her Bad Mother March 17, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I do object to objectification, actually – I just think that it’s become a complicated issue, now that so many women regard some forms of objectification empowering. So, who am I to deny those women their stripper poles or whatever? My point here is that there’s a difference between that kind of thing and embracing a term that forces a divisive (and demeaning) objectification upon women who might not want it. If I call myself a MILF (bad grammar notwithstanding) in order to celebrate my own sexuality, I’m basing that celebration upon a set of sexual categories that divides mothers into ‘fuckable’ and ‘not-fuckable’ (as in, ‘*I* am a mommy who is fuckable, as compared to all those who are not’). Can’t we all be fuckable (pardon my language – sexually desirable)? What doe shavign children got to do with it? In which case, can’t we all drop the ‘mommy’ qualifier?

    So – wanting to be sexually desirable (all issues of objectification aside)? Fine. Wanting to be sexually desirable when considered against a pool of women who are universally regarded as undesirable because they are mothers? NOT fine.

    make sense?

    Her Bad Mother March 17, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Flutter – thanks. Tho’ I’m not sure that it makes me feel any better.

    In any case, I’m mostly bothered by the appropriation of the term by grown-ups who should know better. That said, maybe I shouldn’t expect Tori Spelling or the writers of primetime soaps to know better…

    Stacey March 17, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for explaining your thoughts on this term. I’ve disliked for a long time but have never been able to explain why in any coherent fashion, which you did beautifully.

    sparkle March 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    rah! you got it on the nose for me. i’ve always disliked that term, and know many people who really do like it. not only for the reasons you stated above, but it really *sounds* bad. it’s not an attractive noise. i sort of think of someone snorting soda out their nose.

    Miss Merry Sunshine March 17, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    The thought of one of my son’s friends wanting to fu…I can’t even say it…makes my gag reflex act up. It’s just gross. I agree, just because I’m a Mom doesn’t mean I’m not doable. I hate being put in any kind of category. I fall into the trap too…I mean who doesn’t preen when someone exclaims how good you look for having 2 kids??

    Don Mills Diva March 17, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Ack, I find the term and the whole thing kinda amusing really. Do I really care if a teenager thinks I’m sexy? No. Do I like to joke about being a MILF? Sure, but I’m not hanging my self-worth on it or anything. Anyone who does is in big trouble…

    KrisUnderwood March 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    so glad I’m not the only one that hates the term MILF.

    Love the post-especially the tori spelling bit.

    zellmer March 17, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    here here.
    and well said.

    Viv March 17, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Word. I think you nailed it on the head why I hate the term (but couldn’t articulate it clearly).

    MommyTime March 17, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Oh, thank you for articulating precisely WHY this term has grated on me for so long. Not only does it make suppositions about motherhood as a fundamentally unattractive state, I find it demeaning even where it’s supposed to be a compliment — as if to suggest some kind of charity is being extended to certain women who otherwise would be untouchable because their bodies have been used for something other than playtime.

    If you are jacked up on coffee and hormones, it seems to be working! :)

    Jaelithe March 17, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Great post. This term bothered me when I first started hearing it, but I’d become sort of inured to its ubiquitous presence after a while and stopped really thinking about it.

    crazymumma March 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I’d say you are thinking pretty straight.

    Carrie March 17, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    You are right on. I LOVE your blog.

    child auto insurance March 18, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Absolutely right. Nice Blog. :)

    Becky March 18, 2008 at 9:11 am

    I’m with Flutter on this one on the original meaning of the word. The “I” in MILF is a teenage boy who wouldn’t normally fancy his mate’s mum. I think it’s probably fair to say that kids under 16 don’t normally have the hots for people of their parents’ age… so in this context, I think it’s also fair to say that a “milf” IS “escaping a norm”.

    However, I also agree with you that the way it’s been appropriated has added a whole new annoying meaning.

    And finally I have my own point to make. I think it’s easy as a mother to forget that the vast, vast majority of women in the world are/will be mothers. They’re not a minority group. So actually I don’t agree that there are (that many) assumptions about MOTHERS as a group, so much as there are about WOMEN, and specifically, how a woman fits in with the Pussycat Dolls image of woman.

    heartfull March 18, 2008 at 9:16 am

    The first time I heard this term I was at the country club pool with my SIL and she was laughing that the teenage lifeguards had a list of the MILFs at the pool. She had to define it for me and I thought it was hilarious because the women on the list *were* totally hot. And I would have assumed that teenage boys would fantasize about them. This was just putting a name to it.

    It was cute then. It isn’t cute, though, when it is totally taken over main stream media. When grown men start talking about MILFs it gets offensive, per this post.

    So, I agree with Flutter above and would add that in its original context I wasn’t offended and actually laughed at the term. Not so much anymore.

    emma March 18, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Um, sorry to be so clueless, but what does MILF stand for? Based on your blog and comments I’m guessing “Mother I’d Love to F*ck” but that has too many words, to me, to be a proper acronym.
    Help!

    All Adither March 18, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I’m ignorant too. MILF? Is that MILK with a type-o?

    Angie
    http://www.AllAdither.com

    Hannah March 18, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I have to admit, it never really bothered me all that much. Hell, when American Pie came out I laughed fit to pee over that whole Stiffler’s Mom storyline.

    That said, interesting post – even if I myself am not all that worked up over it.

    kgirl March 18, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I normally hate it too, but I swear to Gloria Steinem that if I were called that right now, I’d like it. Just a little.

    mothergoosemouse March 18, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I am far more interesting as a sexual being having had children

    Agree totally. My “M” status has augmented my “F”-ability.

    (Coincidentally, we watched American Pie last night.)

    wright March 18, 2008 at 11:47 am

    AMEN! So true. Thanks for a great post!

    MamaMo March 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Well said. I’ve been reflecting upon this very thing alot this week, especially after the “truthiness” challenge and the lengthy anonymous response you received. It’s a very deep question/puzzle, and I hope to stew in it a bit and share some reflections next week. In terms of the “is objectification ok in some contexts”, here are some interesting thoughts from Chuck D of Public Enemy (who I have IMMENSE respect for – one very deep, wise thinker there)the first and last thirds of this quick interview are about women: http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1479
    my favorite line, “celebrity is the drug of America”.

    Janet March 18, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    It honestly doesn’t bother me so much. However, I wouldn’t go around using the term. I have to say, though, that when I had two kids under four and was deep in the throes of feeling like my wholesome wheaty Mom side had taken over my fun frosted side, I wouldn’t have minded someone else calling me a MILF.

    Redneck Mommy March 18, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear someone use that term. I find it degrading and derogatory.

    And then I hitch up my mom jeans to under my armpits and try and straighten my oversized stained sweat shirt and waddle off while muttering something under my breath about ‘other people’s children.’

    Her Bad Mother March 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Emma – you’re right about what the acronym stands for. And, yes, it’s not, strictly speaking, a complete acronym. But again, I don’t grammar is a big concern of those employing the term.

    Anonymous March 18, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I’m going to stick my neck WAAAAY out here and offer a different perspective.

    Men, especially young men and teens, do NOT view mothers as sexual critters. Most men in my experience have a very narrow definition of a “sexually attractive woman.” While different men may have their preferences as to what approaches women may take to being attractive, all of them have one thing in common: they take time and effort to appear attractive to men. Thinking waaaaay back to my teens and young-man-hood, my friends moms just didn’t do that.

    I remember a lot of neutral colored sweaters, stretch pants, and comfortable shoes enclosing bodies carrying about 40 – 50 extra pounds, topped off by hair pulled back in a pony tail and no makeup. Zero effort to be attractive. Attracting men just wasn’t on their radar. We didn’t have the term MILF in my circle in those bygone days, but we did occasionally remark on Hot Moms. From when I started noticing girls (I was about 11) to when I graduated high school (about 18), the number of Hot Moms that hit the radar of me and my circle of friends could be counted on one hand.

    I can give you a contemporary example. One of the central ladies in my life has recently had a wonderful little girl. She’s now five months old. I know for a fact that there’s been no sex in her life for over half a year.

    She’s either nursing, changing a diaper, or asleep at all times that she is not furiously catching up with housework, financial or professional commitments.

    She makes zero effort to be attractive. Don’t get me wrong. She’s always clean, neat, and cheerful. But skirts and high-heels are now in the back of her closet, if she has any at all. No makeup, hair pulled back in a ponytail, and sweatpants are the couture of the day.

    Is this a bad thing? No, of course not. She’s got a minimum amount of time and energy, and more important things to do that be attractive to her husband. But she’s dialed the “sexy” dial down to zero and not looked back. And this has been the typical approach to motherhood that I’ve seen.

    Babies and young children will absorb ALL the time and energy you are willing to devote to them, and always seem to need a little more. Having only anecdotal data, I’m not prepared to defend the case that “most women” sacrifice their sexuality on the altar of Being A Good Mother. But I’m willing to say that a significant portion do so and of their own choice.

    And that makes Hot Moms unusual, so it’s not surprising that teens and young men have a special term for them.

    Lamont

    Jenifer March 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Amen.

    Liz@thisfullhouse.com March 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    My husband thinks I’m totally f*ckable and that’s a good thing.

    People complimenting me because I feel good about the way I look AND I’m a mom, AWESOME!

    Knowing I’m a mom, thinking I’m hot anyway and wanting to see where the babies came from…ewww!

    LD March 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Amen sister.

    LD March 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    oh– and it’s even worse when little sorority girls wear it around on their shirts– you know to show their “family” trees. blech.

    Dee Light March 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Loved the post!!

    I found the term MILF funny in the “Ameican Pie” movie, used in that context(and I was prepared for the movie to be a little off color). But that was a movie, not real life.

    I think you’re right there are a lot of assumptions about moms (ie Mom Jeans, Mom Car’s…). I recently had to get a MiniVan (my worst night mare), but you know what, it’s not that bad. I’ve decided, Im proud to be a mom and if I need to drive a miny van that’s okay. Being a mom, and doing mom stuff, doesn’t make us less sexual. Being a mom is embracing life. I don’t know about you, but my husband is still interested (and isn’t that what realy matters)

    I think wanting to be a “MILF”, is the equivalent of a guy wanting to be a “Dirty Old Man”. Really, who cares if a teenager “wants” you, isn’t that a little sick!!!

    liz March 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Sing it!!

    Jen M. March 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I always thought it was a trashy label.

    Like my neighbor with the bad boob job, too young/tight clothes and the frosted hair. All that at 44.

    I am so fatigued with living in a world that still insists on defining women largely on their looks/f*ckability/ and youth…

    Kyla March 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Want to hear something funny and mostly unrelated? Yesterday my mom sent my husband an email signed “Your favorite MIL”. He didn’t know it was an abbreviation for mother-in-law and thought she had left the F off of MILF. He was more than a little disturbed. LMAO.

    Anonymous March 18, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Amen, and lets get rid of “yummy mummy” while we are at it

    Ally March 18, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Good post. You’ve articulated perfectly what’s been bothering me about MILF. I just couldn’t pin down my thoughts and then articulate them like this. Well done, you.

    Lotta March 18, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Ok, as the leader of the the former “Future MILF” club I have to speak up. Though I am quaking in my boots to do so.

    When I first started my weight loss club I named it The Future MILFs. Because the idea of MILFness struck me as hilarious. It was very much a sarcastic usage of the term. The idea being that losing weight can be such a chore, that we should all have a laugh at the idea that we’re supposed to get to some perfect MILFy size.

    But recently I ditched the club name. Renamed it to Gin In My Apron pocket for a couple of reasons. I felt like some of the members (and everyone who found me via google) didn’t get the sarcastic empowerment of it. And I just can’t get behind the term as a realistic goal/label.

    And I found that all of us were getting better/smarter/wiser in so many other ways than just looks by supporting each other. So I wanted to open the group up for anyone that’s working on some kind of self care.

    That’s all.

    Tere March 18, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I’m so with you on this one. Hate the term; hate what it stands for.

    Phoebe's Phriends March 18, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Your blog is great – I love the way you write. I’m not a mom but I am in my mid-30′s which, I imagine, removes me from the “ILF” category…and that is fine with me! Do I want to be attractive and appealing? Yes – to my husband! Do I care about or need the approval of a teenaged boy? NO. And for those who do – that’s pretty gross.

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