The Rise of MILFs and Mommies in Sexual-Fantasy Material

No one has nailed down the origin of the acronym MILF ("Mom I'd Like to Fuck"), although American Pie is credited with popularizing the term, which is most closely associated with teenage boys lusting for a friend's hot mom. In the past several years, the adult industry has grabbed onto the phenomenon, and MILF porn has become a viable niche. On the Adult Video News(avn.com) bestselling DVD chart for October 2007, there are 13 MILF movies, including It's a Mommy Thing; Wife, Mother, Whore; and I Scored a Soccer Mom 2. They make up less than 15 percent of the titles listed, but in such a crowded field, that is significant. In fact, AVN.com now devotes an entire monthly sales chart just to MILF titles. (Currently in the no. 16 slot is my favorite title: You've Got a Mother Thing Coming.)

Although Wikipedia defines "MILF" as a descriptor for women ages 35 to 50, in porno land, women cast as MILFs can be as young as 25. After all, once you've reached that age, you're usually on your way to being kicked to the curb by an industry obsessed with the Barely Legalset. Because of a demand for MILF porn, though, older performers are getting more work than ever before. (Some are first entering the biz at 35 and older.) The plots may be predictable and the dialogue cheesy, but it's a refreshing change to see women with sexual confidence and maturity on-screen.

At 48, Nina Hartley (nina.com) has made over 650 movies in her 28 years in porn. She says that after five years in the business, the amount of scenes she shot declined (typical for a female performer)—but when she hit 40, there was a serious drop-off. However, in the past three years, she's seen a dramatic spike in her workload, primarily thanks to the rise of MILFs. "I am happy to be part of this new demographic," she says. "I have the opportunity to show that older women are sexy, and we are not giving up our sex lives." She believes that a good part of the MILF appeal isn't new: "Being taught by someone who knows what she is doing—the older-woman-as-sex-teacher—has always been a classic theme in porno. It just never had a name."

Nina Hartley in Momma Knows Best 3
Courtesy of Red Light District
Nina Hartley in Momma Knows Best 3

As Hartley points out, central to the typical MILF narrative is an age-play dynamic of older women and younger lovers. Porn is the place where our fantasies—however dark, base, or politically incorrect—come to life. If porn takes the pulse of America's libido, if it's a window onto our collective desires, then sexy moms may finally be taking their place alongside 18-year-old cheerleaders as certified lust objects. Plus MILFs are not just a blue-movie niche market—there's a larger MILF phenomenon out there that encourages women to embrace being motherly and sexy.

But let's take it one step further: Are mommies the new lust object? Other people's moms certainly are; that's usually what a MILF is. But could MILFs pave the way for other mommies, like the kind in mommy/boy and mommy/girl fantasy role-play, where the mommy is much closer to home? Could Mommy finally step out of the shadow of Daddy?

Now I'm not just talking about porn. In s&m, queer culture, and fantasy role-play, "Daddy" is one of the most popular archetypes around. Search queer or kinky personals for the word daddy, and you'll have plenty of potential dates to choose from. There's a level of comfort and familiarity with daddy play, which is not so much about eroticizing incest as it is creating a specific kind of dominant/submissive dynamic, where "masters" are drill sergeants and "daddies" are loving mentors. There are way more self-identified daddies—both male and female—than mommies in those communities. Why?

Our love/lust for Daddy runs deep. If Freudians and other psychologists put on their thinking caps and leather chaps for a moment, they'd conclude that for gay men and straight women alike, Father was the first object of affection; thus, Daddy is an instinctual desire from childhood. The desire to be a daddy or have a daddy is deeply rooted in the psychodynamics of the family. If you grew up with an emotionally or physically distant dad or another kind of unavailable father, his absence can create a longing to bond and connect with Daddy.

In theory, Mommy may have different qualities and a unique history compared to Daddy, but she's just as significant a figure (if not actually more significant) in everyone's life. No matter what your sexual orientation is, Mommy is every child's first love, first object of devotion, and the center of its universe. We are often at our most vulnerable and needy with our mothers. It's taboo to openly admit that we use sexual fantasy to work through our personal issues, to rewrite our family dynamics, and to heal broken relationships—but we do. So why do so many choose to do all that with Daddy? It can't be that we've resolved all our issues with Mommy. Is she too intimate, too strong, too powerful an archetype to play with, to embody, to desire?

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