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What Is a MILF & Things That Make Her So Attractive to Men

Is MILF really a compliment? Well, not really.

You might find the MILF lifestyle fascinating. The MILF is often seen as a sexually empowered woman who has her shit together and knows what she wants.

She has her pick of the men, particularly younger ones. It’s a glamorous life, don’t you think? 

You want to know what it really means to be a MILF? It’s degrading. That’s what it means.

It’s a poor man’s attempt at a compliment cloaked in misogyny and handed to us as if we’re meant to be grateful to still be found attractive. 

But there are people — both men and women — who maintain that being a MILF is a good thing. They’ll say it’s a validation of continued attractiveness and a seal of approval.

They’ll wear it with pride or dish it out like flattery. But they’re wrong. Here’s why.

What Does MILF Mean? The Acronym Explained

MILF stands for Mothers (or Moms) I’d Like to Fuck.

Let’s break that down for a minute to see why it’s not actually a compliment. We’ll start with the descriptor and then move to the intention.

Why listen to me? I’m Crystal Jackson and I was a master’s level licensed therapist. I worked with couples and individuals and specialized in trauma recovery and empowerment. I now write content about relationships, self-improvement and psychology. My work has been featured on large publications such as Elite Daily, Your Tango, Positively Positive, and Mamamia.

Descriptor

First, the acronym states that it’s about mothers. I don’t know about anyone else, but my relationship to my children has no place in someone else’s attraction to me. The identifier of “mom” placed with the intention “to fuck” is offensive. One of these things is not like the other. 

There’s also the implication that there are two categories: mothers who are seen as desirable still and mothers who aren’t. Think about that for a minute.

We are being sorted based on perceived attractiveness. We are being valued by the measure of our desirability to others. It’s gross and deeply sexist.

Intention

But let’s move on to the intention. It’s not subtle. There’s a desire to have sex with this woman who also happens to be a mother. It’s objectification without any attempt to hide it. 

The term MILF removes the woman’s personal agency in sex.

May Friedman, author of Unpacking MILF: Exploring motherhood, sexuality and feminism, stated that the term MILF “denies sexual agency, positioning mothers as the recipients of sexual attention and as sexual objects, rather than as active participants.”

She goes on to highlight another issue.

MILF, as a raced, classed, and objectifying term, maintains the image that motherhood is generally de-sexualized, in its presentation of sexy mothers as distinct from other mothers. If the stereotypical definitions of mothers and motherhood excise sexuality from maternity, MILF exists in opposition to this sexual erasure, presenting mothers as possible objects of sexual desire. 

Yet it is precisely the positioning of MILFs as objects, rather than sexual subjects, that renders MILF so problematic. In this regard, MILF may be seen as a signifier of a broader objectification of women in general, and mothers in particular, in that it presents female sexuality via a male gaze and does not engage with feminine or maternal desire. 

~May Friedman

In other words, a woman’s desire is seen as superfluous. The man has deemed her to still be desirable. What she wants does not actually matter.

It allows her to maintain a sexual identity but at the cost of her humanity. It is based entirely on outside validation when it implies that only some mothers are worthy of a sex life. 

Origin of the Term MILF

Beautiful blonde woman in her 40s on a bench
Beautiful blonde woman

According to Dictionary.com, MILF has been around at least since the 1990s, but it was popularized in the 1999 comedy American Pie. There are even spin-offs of the term.

SMILF is defined as “single mom I’d like to fuck”, DILF is “dads I’d like to fuck”, and there’s even a designation for GILF. Yes, that’s grandparents you have a carnal desire for.

It’s all about objectification that is weirdly based around one’s relationship to one’s children … or grandchildren.

While you might assume that I find the other terms socially acceptable, you’d be wrong. While society may find these terms comical, they all present the same problem.

They’re dehumanizing. Why is it necessary to specify a person’s relationship to others in the attraction?

This is the iconic American Pie scene that brought MILF to the forefront of pop culture. Note the age of the characters. 

I’m not sure American Pie should be the basis for any of our socially accepted behaviors. Consider the maturity levels of the boys in the scene that popularized this term.

Compare it to the maturity level of grown men who think it’s acceptable to openly objectify women. You might not find a true difference between them.  

Who Is Considered a MILF?

So, who is considered a MILF?

Anyone who is a mom can be a MILF. It entirely depends on who is viewed as sexually desirable and who isn’t, which is purely subjective.

The problem with this is that everyone is a sexual being unless they identify as asexual. Yet, some people are perceived as more valuable than others purely on a person’s individual preference. 

The Difference Between a MILF and a Cougar

Some people mix up the terms MILF and cougar. A MILF is simply a designation that encompasses mothers.

A cougar can be a mature woman dating a younger partner.

Cougars aren’t necessarily mothers. Cougars are defined solely on the age difference in a relationship while a MILF can be any age at all as long as she is a mother.

She can be a teenager or in her forties. It doesn’t matter. Any age combined with motherhood puts her at risk of being called a MILF. 

Should We Use the Term MILF?

A mother can be attractive and desirable without having to be called a MILF.

While the term has gained popular traction, it’s an immature way of attempting to compliment a woman by simultaneously calling attention to her motherhood and objectifying her body.

It doesn’t empower women sexually; it simply breaks us down as objects to be admired and used.

Initially, MILF would seem to be beyond rehabilitation. The popular culture version of “Mother I’d Like to Fuck” takes away maternal agency and maternal desire; rather than being a site for mothers who like to fuck, mothers get fucked in this scheme — in every sense of the word. 

While the MILF archetype would seem to finally enable the possibility for sexualized motherhood, it presents this possibility as a passive undertaking. Mothers who are labeled MILFs do not own their sexuality; they are owned. MILFs are no longer subjects, but are objects to be pawed at and slobbered over.

~May Friedman

Friedman’s article gives real-life examples of how this manifests in life, and I highly recommend it. She explores how women’s sexuality is limited by societal expectations of mothers.

She’s only considered a good mother if she sacrifices her own wants and needs and represses her sexuality. She’s allowed to be sexual — as long as she follows society’s rules of how she expresses it. 

5 Reasons Why Young Men Are so Attracted to MILFs

Why do young men find MILFs so attractive? It’s a question that’s been asked more and more as younger men seek out partners who meet this qualifier. The answer just might surprise you.

1. They Perceive the MILF as a Potentially Dominant Partner

Research into young men who watch MILF pornography has shown that MILF fantasies are often associated with BDSM fantasies.

There’s a fantasy of the sexy mother, often depicted as a more mature woman, sexually dominating or even humiliating the man.

This fantasy could transfer into a real-life preference for having a dominant female partner who takes control. There’s also a link between this tendency and anxious attachment issues in men. 

It’s possible that part of the allure of dominance is that a more mature woman — and mothers are viewed as more mature despite their age — will be more likely to ask for what she wants.

This could be attractive for a young man eager to please her. Not having to guess could remove some of the anxiety of perceived sexual rejection. 

2. They Have Mommy Issues

It’s also been theorized that proponents of the term MILF have mommy issues. They might even have related fantasies like a breast milk fetish.

There could be underlying issues with a mother figure that causes them to seek out and replicate that relationship dynamic with a romantic or sexual partner.

This is not some Freudian idea of a man who secretly fantasizes about sex with his mother. Rather, unhealthy relationship dynamics in the parent-child relationship could be repeated in adult relationships.

For instance, if the parent was controlling and dismissive, the man might gravitate to women who are the same. It might feel comfortable even though it’s dysfunctional.

“More significantly, many abused children will subconsciously seek out further abuse in their adult relationships for the simple reason that abuse is the only thing that makes sense to them. It becomes an identity for them. They need it to feel whole.” ~Mark Manson

3. They’re Immature

It’s also possible that these men are simply immature. They’re still operating from the idea that they see something and want it and then treat their relationship with that person as a transaction.

Calling a woman a MILF is meant to be seen as flattering, and when the man doesn’t get that response from her, he might lash out or feel wronged when she points out that it’s degrading. This is a sign of immaturity.

Mature adults are capable of having relationships with other adults without seeing the relationship as transactional.

For instance, men who think that paying for dinner should result in a reward of sex are still viewing relationships transactionally.

A man who invests time wooing a woman and feels betrayed when she doesn’t choose to have a relationship with him might still be operating at an immature mentality. 

This score-keeping attitude of entitlement prevents these men from having healthy, mature relationships.

They might look to a woman who has children and think she should be grateful that she’s still considered attractive, but the very idea that motherhood somehow reduces attractiveness is, in itself, offensive.

An immature man uses the term MILF and argues that it’s not offensive. A mature man listens to women and learns why objectifying other human beings is wrong. 

Much of feminism is simply trying to get men to stop seeing relationships with women in terms of a transaction and instead see them as other adults. The problem is that most men don’t even see other men as respectable adults. ~Mark Manson

4. Attraction to Maturity

It’s also possible that the desirable qualities they recognize in mothers is attractive to younger men.

These men may assume that these qualities are specific to mothers when, in reality, these are simply characteristics of mature women.

Women who seem to have personal responsibility, financial security, and high standards could appeal to younger men looking for strong partners.

They might think that a MILF has all of that and more.

What they might not realize is that women who truly are mature aren’t going to be attracted to immature men who use outdated, misogynistic terminology to describe women.

While the desire for a mature partner regardless of age is understandable, labeling the partner with a dehumanizing term is not. 

5. A Fantasy Fulfilled

Because the MILF fantasy is prevalent in porn, it’s also possible that the young man sees a relationship with a “MILF” as wish fulfillment.

He might be satisfying a fantasy he’s had by exploring what it’s like to date or be physically intimate with a woman who is also a mother.

He might have an idea that the sex will be superior because she is seen as more experienced. His attraction might be based on ideas he’s drawn from pornography, which is an unreliable source at best. 

Why Do Some Women Equate MILF With Empowerment?

beautiful blonde mature woman with green eyes
Beautiful blonde mature woman

Some women might consider the term flattering, but some women also consider catcalling flattering. Both are ways of harassing women, and I credit internalized misogyny and a need for external validation for women embracing these insults as compliments.

The intention of MILF is to identify a woman as someone seen as sexually desirable to that person. While having sexual attraction is generally unproblematic, letting a woman know that she’s a MILF is problematic in many ways.

So, why do some women equate the term MILF to empowerment? Reclaiming language can feel powerful and be a subversive act. It’s why some women will call each other “bitch” in affection. It could be a way of taking back the power over terms that are meant to cause offense.

Unfortunately, it also muddies the waters on which women see it as empowering and which women see it as offensive. How is a man supposed to know?

In the end, he can’t know. He’s not a mind reader. He’s better off avoiding the term and finding other ways to let women know he’s attracted and interested. 

Claiming the term MILF

Claiming the term MILF can also be a way of maintaining a sexual identity.

In a society where mothers are allowed limited socially acceptable sexuality, I can see where some women would want to claim it where they can.

Yet, this type of sexual validation still sources approval from men rather than from internal measures. It’s still dependent on outside approval.

For men: It’s important to consider that while some women see the term as flattering, many others find it offensive. It’s best to avoid it.

For women who equate it with empowerment: It might be important to explore why sexuality needs to be validated by men versus existing for personal satisfaction.

There are other ways for women to empower themselves sexually without basing their sexual identity on the outside gaze.

Pole dancing fitness classes, which are usually women-only, can allow women to explore sensuality and sexuality without a male view.

Masturbation can remove the need for a partner to feel sexually satisfied.

Even exploring sexual expression through fashion can make a woman feel sexy without that sexiness being intended for anyone other than herself. 

On MILFs: A Conclusion

When should you call a mom a MILF? Never would be nice. Even if a woman finds it empowering, you can accept that she claims that identifier without using it yourself.

It’s based in a patriarchal system with racist and classist implications, and it’s best avoided. 

A woman is allowed to be sexy whether she’s a mother or not. Her sexiness is not based on someone else’s perspective. It is purely her own. She is a sexual being, and it’s independent of external validation. 

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t use objectifying terms to describe another human being. We would interact with other adults by treating them as equals.

We wouldn’t see them as objects to admire but people we might want to connect with and get to know. We’d abandon the idea that our feelings matter more than the experience of women who say a term is harmful. We’d respect that and retire the term.

But that’s not the world we live in. I’ll keep writing about why using the term MILF is a problem, and there will always be people who argue the point, play devil’s advocate, and generally refuse to listen.

They’ll continue to be part of the problem. I’ll continue to point toward a solution. 

Retire the term. Let it disappear into the vault of the past along with cassette players and tidal wave bangs.

If you really want to let a woman know you think she’s sexy, try a compliment that doesn’t objectify her at the same time. Or better yet, let her exist as a sexual being without having to comment on it. 

The Truly Charming