Unpacking MILF: Exploring motherhood, sexuality and feminism


  • May Friedman Ryerson University School of Social Work


Mothering, Sexuality, Popular Culture


At first glance, the contemporary phenomenon of MILF (standing for “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”) in both pornography and popular culture seems to stand as an antidote for the desexualization of women who become mothers. Yet a more nuanced analysis of this archetype exposes the limitations of the genre and the ways that it serves to objectify women and reify normative views of motherhood. In particular, the term is deeply raced and classed. Through an analysis of three white middle-class mothers who perform in varying sites of popular culture, the MILF trope will be explored and critiqued. The three examples include Emily Maynard, star of The Bachelor (2011) and The Bachelorette (2012); Madison Young, feminist porn star, artist, and entrepreneur; and Kendra Holliday, blogger, sex activist, and social media celebrity. The specifics of each woman’s performances of public sexy motherhood are discussed with reference to dominant discourses of motherhood and sexuality, and particularly in relation to MILF.

Au premier coup d’oeil, le phénomène contemporain de la MILF (acronyme anglais signifiant « Mother I’d Like to Fuck » ou « mère que j’aimerais baiser ») dans la pornographie et dans la culture populaire semble servir d’antidote à la désexualisation des femmes qui deviennent mères. Pourtant, une analyse plus nuancée de cet archétype expose les limites du genre et les façons dont il sert à réduire les femmes à un simple objet et à réifier les points de vue normatifs de la maternité. Plus particulièrement, le terme est profondément lié à la race et à la classe de la mère. Le trope MILF est exploré et critiqué par le biais d’une analyse de trois mères de race blanche et de classe moyenne qui paraissent dans différents sites de culture populaire. Les trois exemples incluent Emily Maynard, vedette des émissions The Bachelor (2011) et The Bachelorette (2012), Madison Young, vedette de films pornographiques, féministe, artiste et entrepreneure, ainsi que Kendra Holliday, blogueuse, activiste sexuelle et vedette des médias sociaux. Les détails des performances de chaque femme comme figure publique et mère sexy font l’objet de discussions en ce qui a trait aux discours dominants de maternité et de sexualité, particulièrement en relation au concept de la MILF.


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Author Biography

May Friedman, Ryerson University School of Social Work

May Friedman lives in Toronto and teaches social work at Ryerson University.


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