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Today I Learnt: MILF And The Sexualisation Of Women At Every Age

MILF

It seems there is no limit to how far the imagination can run when it comes to the sexualisation of women and their bodies. The threat of it is ever-present across ages, right from when they’re little girls up until they’re older and treading the path of motherhood. There are just so many labels for women of every colour, age, size, type, that I sometimes wonder – do men even view women as living, breathing beings, or simply as labels on boxes? One such label, relatively new in mainstream usage, is MILF – short for ‘mom I’d like to f*ck’. It isn’t as much a compliment as it is dehumanisation.

Aside from the sheer brazenness of it, MILF is troubling for the reason that it indicates how easy it is and how unafraid people are to throw around sexual labels when it comes to women. It’s like the male gaze is so accustomed to viewing women as objects of desire that it’s only natural to refer to them as such. One we discussed earlier at length was bimbo, and now MILF. And that the usage of MILF has become more common in recent years is a testament to the fact that the reality of women being seen just as objects of desire doesn’t seem to be improving at all. If anything, it’s only getting worse.

Also Read: What’s The Big Deal About Young Men Dating Older Women?

The History And Rise Of MILF

Urban Dictionary, my go-to for all things… well, urban, describes MILF as: “any woman with children who has men that want to have sexual intercourse with her. The term is also sometimes used to describe women above a certain age (30 or 40+).” The only thing more disturbing than the definition is the example attached along with, which reads, “Your mum is a MILF, dude.”

While its use has become commonplace in colloquial lingo now, MILF as slang isn’t that new. Linguist Laurel A. Sutton in the 1995 work Bitches and Skankly Hobags: The Place of Women in Contemporary Slang stated that MILF as a term to describe “attractive women” was used by American students as early as 1992. But it was largely local. It gained real widespread prominence in popular culture after finding mention in the 1999 sex-comedy American Pie, a film notorious among the youth.

In 2007, New York Magazine pinned down the rising use of this sexual acronym to the sale of MILF merchandise, books, porn, and television shows like Desperate Housewives. The “hot mom” stereotype was by then striding by large leaps and had turned into an uglier, more adult version of itself as MILF.

Women’s Bodies As Sexual Territories

Some may argue that heavy sexualisation exists on all ends of the gender spectrum, evidenced by the male counterpart of MILF, i.e. DILF (dad I’d like to… yeah). But seven out of ten people I asked, who knew what MILF meant, were entirely uninformed that something called DILF too exists. And therein lies the glaring difference between the two terms. DILF is still an obscure slang as compared to MILF, which is used in social media circles with alarming frequency. Because it’s easier to cuss women. Although this doesn’t mean objectification of men is justified or that this is the right way to negate sexualisation of women.

Also Read: Villagers Strip Woman, Chop Her Hair For Eloping with Another Man; Video Put On Internet

Is this not a severe fetishisation of the female body, the allure being that of engaging with a married/committed woman? MILF is most commonly also used for mothers who have what is deemed to be a “highly sexual” body type – big breasts, tiny waists, someone like Kim Kardashian for example. Does that not imply that women who look a certain way will be ready for adultery or “easy” to get? Or that only women with a certain body type can be deemed attractive post-marriage?

Therapist Ian Kerner told New York Magazine, “There are all these halftime commercials for Viagra shouting at men to take the lead sexually and make love like porn stars. There’s a lot of performance pressure on guys, so I think the idea of submitting to an older woman who can take charge is incredibly alluring.”

The Ironical Concept Of MILF In India

This concept of MILF is not unfamiliar even in mainstream Hindi cinema. However, it exists covertly, without scandalous terminologies. Remember why Sid slapped Akash in Dil Chahta Hai? Akash (Aamir Khan), as far back as 2001, had insinuated that Sid (Akshaye Khanna) wanted a relationship with an older, divorced woman because she was more “experienced” and “lived alone”. He meant MILF, basically.

The morally centred Sid, calling it a “ganda mazaak”, had found it so offensive that he cut off all ties with Akash. Alas, not many Sids exist today. But in broaching this subject, Dil Chahta Hai had aggregated the pulse of India’s youth, bringing a largely Western conversation to the forefront. Evidently, the sexualisation of older women with a “chalta hai attitude” has been around in India for quite some time.

Also Read: Feminism Is Not A Bad Word And Women Don’t Have To Be ‘Innocent’

What does this tell us about the place women occupy in Indian society? Why must they be expected to adhere to radical ideas – of being “sanskaari” and entirely bereft of sexual desires on one hand, or being full of them on the other? Are such ideas of women’s bodies as sexual territories adding to the rape culture? It must be realised that these terms aren’t simply jestful. They may have real-life consequences. Which is why their usage must be critically revised.

Views expressed are the author’s own.