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The Long and Decorated Literary History of the MILF

Happy Mother’s Day! Now let’s talk about MILFs or more precisely, let’s talk about where the etymology of the MILF archetype.

From Chaucer to Mrs. Robinson, one of literature’s most subversive archetypes is also a surprisingly old one and it gets them every time.

“How many of you,” I ask a roomful of half-awake 18-year-old students, “are familiar with the term MILF?” There’s a frenzied exchange of knowing smirks.

Determined to maintain an academic tone, I ask the next question. “And how many of you know the etymology of this acronym?”

“Mom I’d like to fuck!” one particularly enthusiastic scholar blurts out.

“Thank you,” I say over the tsunami of snickers. “That’s what it stands for. But where does it come from?”

Roughly half the students in my film elective correctly identify Stifler’s mom, the sultry divorcée from the 1999 comedy American Pie, as MILF Zero, the woman to whom those four letters owe their provenance. “Here’s the thing,” I press on, “Stifler’s mom may be Hollywood’s most explicitly sexualized and predatory mother. But she wouldn’t exist without Mrs. Robinson.”

“Who’s Mrs. Robinson?” a student inevitably asks. And that’s where our unit on The Graduate begins… read more >

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