Yummies, MILFS and Dishies…

I stopped by Twitter this morning and had a chat with DadblogUK who was pleased that he’d been called a Dishy Dad. ‘Ideologically I should be opposed to the phrase…’ he tweeted. I think this sounds nicer than terms bandied about mums, especially Yummy Mummy or MILF, terms that I said sugar coat insults. But do they? Am I just being overly sensitive? Are they insults or just highly inappropriate?

Recent terms to describe mums are not particularly confidence inspiring. “I’m just a housewife” was a familiar refrain of yore, often in comparison to the Supermum of the late 80s. Supermum sounded like she was amazing but really conjured up images of a frazzled harrassed working mother, juggling 17 things at once and doing none of them well.

For Yummies, I decide to do some brief research. By this obviously I mean Google. The results start with a LOT of things to buy – changing bags, books, clothing ranges and so on – parenthood being that prime market for tat sellers after all. But beyond that, what do we find?

“Young, attractive and wealthy” says Wikipedia. So far, so much envy. But it goes on. The article talks of women bankrolled by husbands in the City, clothed in designer gear, perfectly groomed, slim, carefree and with beautiful children. Then it mentions some research from 2008 that suggests the term and the media obsession with Yummies is contributing to levels of depression in new mums who feel inadequate.

I’d like to see that research. I’m going to guess that the sample was not particularly wide. But otherwise as a term, Yummy Mummy isn’t great but still, it’s liveable with – it’s part of the celebrity culture and a lot of women apparently claim yummy mummy as their own, enjoying the glamour of the term, and referring to themselves and their friends as Yummies. If that’s your thing then fine.

And then we move onto the Guardian website. It’s well known the Grauniad’s Comment is Free attracts some dreadful trolls and commenters who clearly have very little else to do with their time. But the amount of bile reserved for Yummy Mummies is pretty beyond the pale. Essentially, they suggest Yummies are obnoxious and rude, with a sense of entitlement far beyond their worth, and spend a lot of time complaining that these women and their children take up space in coffee shops they used to frequent. I’ve blogged about this before and I’m not going there again. (Read it, if you missed it the first time.) Essentially, in the eyes of the commenters, women and their children should definitely be neither seen nor heard.

I don’t personally know anyone who calls themselves a yummy mummy as a positive thing but to those that do, good for you. The media-led class-based sneering at women who can afford to take some time off work to look after their children is the only time I’ve heard Yummy Mummy used. Not positive. And it’s interesting that in my search, I find that CLIC Sergent have renamed their Yummy Mummies fundraising event to the Great Mums Get Together – clearly they’ve also considered negative connotations and actively decided to get rid of it. But in the comments several folk ask “Isn’t Yummy Mummy a socially acceptable term for MILF?”

Heart quailing, I Google MILF. The results are as I expect. I don’t click on them. (Note to self, please wipe cookies.)

Some might say that at least MILF is direct whereas yummy mummy skirts around the issue. But not really. The mainstream use, as I can see it, has Yummy Mummies mainly as fluff, as the sugar coated (and in some cases not even that) insults that I mentioned at the start. It doesn’t include sex. It’s just referring to women, doing (sometimes) woman-y things. MILF isn’t this. MILF is sex. MILF is porn. (I’m sure there’s some yummy porn somewhere but the sexual context isn’t really discussed during your regular yummy conversation. Not like MILF which is ALL about sex.)

MILF is also directly offensive though this hasn’t always stopped people using it in every day conversation. A colleague once used the term PILF (that’s P for princess in case I needed to spell it out) to describe Kate Middleton but did so when he thought I couldn’t hear him because he knew I’d find it offensive and call him on it. Sadly for him, I did and I did but this really shouldn’t be necessary. I’m certain he would never have used racist language in a low voice to try and avoid giving offence.

Anyway, if people felt inadequate from Yummies, MILF is worse. It’s essentially telling someone that despite them being a mum, they’re still attractive. To more men than just your partner. Oh THANKS. Thanks for giving me that boost to my self esteem. Despite being a mum. In giving life you have also sunk so low that if people still manage to find you attractive (you know, looking beyond the layers of puke encrusted clothes, bags under the eyes and unbrushed hair) to sleep with, you should be pathetically grateful. And then there’s the other aspect. My Google search results. Pages of it.

So in comparison, what do we get when Googling ‘dishy dads’? As expected, it’s quite sweet really. There aren’t pages of abuse, there aren’t branded bags and bits of tat for sale. There are a few competitions to encourage dads to have their picture taken doing dad stuff or to do some cooking. At worst, it’s mildly patronising. DILF doesn’t bring up pages of porn either.

It’s a moot point whether this matters. Except that I think it does. Semantics count. And because I’m a touchy feminist. Because we want to encourage fathers to get more involved, they get quietly patronising terms but we get pornography. What a step forward.

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6 Responses to Yummies, MILFS and Dishies…

  1. dadbloguk says:

    I hope I will be forgiven for making a few observations. I won’t say too much as I plan to blog on the same subject.

    First of all, it’s worth noting that I have never heard a man use the phrase “yummy mummy” (I can’t say the same for MILF, however). Despite this, both phrases basically mean the same thing; a mother attractive enough to consider having sex with.

    The phrase Dishy Dad may seem innocuous but let’s be honest, it is simply shorthand for DILF. Double standards are in operation between the genders; it is amusing for a woman to ogle a male but wo betide any man that does the same to a woman.

    The horrendous television programme Take Me Out is an example that demonstrates this perfectly. How long do you think a prime time TV show would last if the tables were reversed and a woman were paraded in front of 30 male suitors and expected to find a mate? I guarantee the advertisers would run a mile making it economically unviable.

    One other thing. I write this from my bed knowing a disturbed night’s sleep is ahead of me as I must get up and (formula) feed my daughter in the early hours (it was my wife’s turn last night). The t shirt and trousers I have just removed are both vomit stained and my hair needs a wash.

    Don’t for one second think it’s just mother’s that experience these things and don’t for one second think us men don’t struggle to retain our DILF / Dishy Daddy status. It may not be universal, but many of us can relate to what women go through.

    • basfordianthoughts says:

      Thanks so much John for your comment – I agree with you that women can be as bad, and often worse, than men in judging each other. I also don’t watch much TV so was unaware of the concept (if that’s what it is) around Take Me Out. You’ve ensured that I won’t be watching. I think you’re right about the double standards when looking at gender issues – what people find unattractive in a woman such as baby puke is cute and adorable in men – and this attitude would infuriate me if I was a man, as much as a patronising attitude does now. But I think what struck me when I wrote this was the strength of nastiness against women while using both terms. And especially MILF – I like to think I’m fairly “liberal” but I was still fairly shocked at the immediacy and violence of the porn when looking for this term. What people described as a “less nice way” of saying Yummy Mummy is actually a term that comes with all the degradation and lack of personalisation that I associate with the porn industry – taking the term to a whole other level that I wasn’t previously aware of. I’m sure this exists if I looked further for DILF too and it’s no less demeaning for you. We are essentially arguing the same thing, I think, but from different points of view.

  2. dadbloguk says:

    Oh yes, we are indeed arguing from very similar positions!

    I shall be blogging on this subject in the near future. I’ll provide a bit more clarity on my stance then.

  3. suttongirl says:

    I am enjoying reading your site Sue and have found myself nodding along in agreement on more than one occasion, thank you for writing such an interesting and thought provoking blog. I’m confused by part of this piece however, you talk about the ‘media-led class based sneering at women who can afford to take some time off work to look after their children’ but in last month’s blog you criticised the ‘Boden types with their Quinny pushchairs and Baby Gap jeans who have parties for their children to impress other mums’. Is this not class sneering on, all be it, a less grand scale?

    • basfordianthoughts says:

      First up, to someone who writes this blog mainly to attempt to make sense of what’s going on with me, it is very exciting when a) people actually read it and b) read it enough to remember what I said from one piece to the next so: THANK YOU.

      You are of course right in your comment! And yet, I’m going to split hairs in order to attempt to justify myself a leetle bit. The class-based sneering at yummies I mentioned in this case seemed to me to be by non-parents (in the CIF comments section especially) and seemed to be aimed at women who just wanted to do something normal, such as have a cup of coffee outside their house or just look presentable in public. This is aside from the anti-celeb comments, I mean. The Boden etc sneering I did myself I wanted to direct at other mothers who make the rest of us feel inadequate from their sheer perfectness. As you can see, it is a slight distinction and is clearly hypocrisy on my part!

      Having said that, I do feel I ought to clear up the children’s parties thing in case of any more confusion. I am not against children’s parties. I’m quite looking forward to helping E choose what she wants to do for her parties when she’s big enough. I have, however, been made aware of people who try and outdo other mothers in every aspect of giving a party – especially the party bags (one person told me of a mum who hand sewed the bags for her child’s first party. There is nowhere to go after that – the kids won’t remember it and all you’re doing is raising the stakes for other women, assuming they are silly enough to take notice.)

      Anyway. Thanks for reading and for calling me up on my failings! Come back anytime!

  4. suttongirl says:

    Thanks, that helps me to see where you are coming from. The sign of an excellent blog when I can call you up on something you said over a month ago!

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