THE BLOG
11/28/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Defense of MILF

When I started a website about magazines, fashion and feminism last year, I named it Magazine MILF to give it some sass. Back then, anyone under 40 knew exactly what I meant by MILF, and she or he usually got a chuckle out of the title's cheek. But for friends and acquaintances over 40 -- those old souls who hadn't become acquainted with "Stacy's Mom" through the Fountains of Wayne song, or Stiffler's mom in the American Pie movies -- I was often required to define the word MILF. It goes without saying that this was a mortifying experience with my own mother. But I could also feel her blush with pride through the telephone lines when I told her that, among my brothers' high-school friends, she was the number-one MILF.

These days, of course, thanks to Sarah Palin and the strenuous efforts of the RNC, everybody in every age group knows exactly what a MILF is. (In case you've been hiding in Osama bin Laden's cave, MILF is an acronym that stands for "Mom I'd Like to F---." In general parlance, it is a synonym for "hot mom.") Now the word is out, and some feminists have condemned the
term as yet another example of the thinly veiled misogyny that permeates our culture. Amy Alexander complained in a piece for The Root that back in her day, an attractive woman of a certain age was "more politely" referred to as a "Mrs. Robinson" -- as if a seducer of one's daughter's young suitor is somehow the more favorable archetype. And Megan Carpentier of Jezebel says MILF implies "that most women who have carried a child to term aren't f---able."

Well, this feminist daughter of a bra-burning mother and women's-lib-marching father doth protest! These well-meaning women are wrong. Even if googling "MILF" brings up a nauseating amount of porn -- I hate the subjugation of women in skin flicks as much as Catharine
MacKinnon -- the word MILF in mainstream culture has nothing to do with male desire, and everything to do with a new era of motherhood. It is in fact, the exact opposite of Ms. Carpentier's contention. Postnatal women are no longer consigned to asexual frumpdom, and that is something to celebrate. Like men and fine wine, women get better with age -- and child birth -- and society is finally starting to get it. That's progress.

Much of the credit for the mainstream emergence of MILFiness goes to glamorous celebrity moms and the tabloids that chronicle their hotness at every step, from bump watch to pregnancy to post-delivery workouts (ugh) and accessorizing with and for the baby. Think Gwen Stefani, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner and Angelina Jolie. These bombshells identify as strongly as mothers as they do confident career women with serious sex appeal. Non-celebrity moms feel similarly empowered to maintain their prenatal looks and sexual confidence in a way that women of earlier generations did not.

Now, let me be clear. Nobody needs a $150,000 wardrobe to attain MILFiness. And cosmetic surgery is completely unMILFy. Among my crowd of thirty-something mothers, describing another woman as a MILF is viewed as a compliment, one that's all the more welcome because of its clubby connotations and slightly illicit undertones. In fact, one forty-something reporter who interviewed me about the proliferation of the word MILF and then condemned it as misogynistic in her story, claimed in a post-publication email that she is a MILF.

You see, she's proud of what she's got. And that is what being a MILF -- as well as a feminist -- is all about.