As a word of caution, this post will inevitably contain the f-bomb. Prepare accordingly.
Both in the blogosphere and in my suburban neighborhood, I have been hearing this word (if you want to call it that) fairly often. For the uninitiated, MILF is an acronym created by a young man in the movie American Pie to delineate “moms I’d like to fuck.” Crude, yes, but we are talking about teenage boys. MILF seems to me to be a term used primarily in relation to 40’s-ish moms who are deemed attractive to young men. It’s one of those words (I will use the term “word” from now on, knowing that it is in fact an acronym) that seems to pervade the culture in a slow and steady way, until it becomes a moniker that we can all understand. Even though my friend Barbara had to look it up. Which made me like her even more.
In the blogosphere, there has been a huge debate going on mostly led by Danielle Smith of extraordinarymommy.com. She finds the term offensive, believing that it is demeaning to women in that we may feel the need to make ourselves look hot for the opposite sex. She goes on to say that being called a MILF is not a compliment and never was, however, goes to great pains in her radio interview on “Q” to say that when she goes out with friends, young men hit on her and the silly little fools don’t realize that she is older than she appears. She also says the term feeds into a misogynistic society’s desire to pigeon-hole women into an ideal of pornographic object. Her last point is that the word itself is shocking, so as to align with our current culture of “reality” programming: fast, loose and sell-worthy. While I agree with her assertion here, let’s not kid ourselves. Ms. Smith on her site is selling her book and her brand, and she righteously says she is not going to use profanity. She does say, “oh my heavens” though.
All this debate about MILF’s started when Ms. Smith received a press release about a book called “The MILF Diet: Let the Power of Whole Foods Transform your Body, Mind and Spirit,” by Jessica Porter. I know, at first read this title seems at cross purposes: How does eating in a clean way make you a dirty and naughtly girl? But apparently, Ms. Porter has some very clear ideas on MILFdom. A true MILF is confident, sexy and radiates natural feminity, she says. Really? Go back to the American Pie clip and you will see the original MILF in a self -aggrandizing photo looking anything but natural. Clearly, it’s a ploy to sell a book. Both of these women have persuasive bones of contention, but both have a financial interest in their defending their side of the argument. I, however, do not.
My friend Taryn has, in her authentic and exuberant way, put together a running team for an upcoming event. The name of the group? “The Vantucky MILF’s.” Obviously not landing on Ms. Smith’s side of the argument, she sees the term as empowering and a great way to rally the troops. Having not officially signed up for the team yet, I can say that I think that this type of mommy-promotion is great. When in years past, can you remember a mom being called outwardly sexy? There was a latent Carol Brady sexuality some might say, but it has truly come to fruition in the term MILF. This generation is not content to sit on the sidelines while younger women pass them by. So what? I am of the camp that if it makes you feel good and it’s not hurting anyone, then go ahead and own it. If feeling attractive to the opposite sex is not something you are interested in, then let it go. Most women I have unscientifically polled would take it as a compliment, but not all. So if you don’t, fine. But really, can’t it just be a little bit fun?
But here’s the neuroscience facts, ladies. We are complex sexual beings. In Louann Brizendine M.D.’s compelling book, “The Female Brain,” she states that basically, we need to relax. Unlike men, it takes a lot of “neurochemical stars to align” to feel comfortable in the bodies we inhabit. A certain amount of letting go, thanks to that lovely little structure called the amygdala, is required to get there. So, if seeing yourself as a MILF and proclaiming it helps you along, what’s the harm? You may be more inclined to eat whole foods, go for a run, bake a pie or even start a business to feel desirable and alluring. Whatever works. Of course, like many of you, I do not look forward to the day when, perhaps my daughter might ask me what a MILF is. (She recently asked me what a prostitute was. Eesh.) But I am sure on my feet and in my words, so I know the answer will come. Popular culture dictates that all things provocative and in-your-face are of the moment. However, I am also confident that, with our help, the generation we are raising knows the difference between “reality-tv” and well, reality. We have to keep making that distinction for them. It’s a new and challenging aspect of being a parent in our time.
In the meantime, I enjoy seeing how the word makes it’s way through our culture. I am not in control of it, and am powerless to rail against it even if I was so inclined.
What about you?
Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Mama Iphoneography