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.