The MILF Diet

26 Feb

by Kayla Corcoran

Let me begin by writing that I am a lover of books. It’s the first prerequisite for being an English major, and I am a highly indiscriminate reader. So please understand that I am serious when I write that there are not of lot of books that I dislike considerably (and by dislike considerably, I mean despise with a burning passion). Up until now, in fact, I wasn’t sure that any book existed that I couldn’t find a way to like just a little bit. But then I found Jessica Porter’s The MILF Diet. And it made me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon.
Naturally, I’m now going to share it with you.

The full title of the cookbook is The MILF Diet: Let the Power of Whole Foods Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit…Deliciously (2013). Well isn’t that a mouthful. First, for those of you who don’t know what a “MILF” is, I’ll let Ms. Porter explain: “These days, ‘MILF’ has become a compliment. While other names for sexy women have remained stuck to the brothel floor, ‘MILF’ has picked itself up, crawled out the door, and marched with pride into the local health food store.” Wait, I’m sorry. When did that happen? Porter continues, writing, “What’s best about ‘MILF’ is that the term was generated by men, for men. It’s not some politically correct label we’re trying to shove down their throats. Perhaps the term ‘MILF’ is evidence that a healing is going on in our newly minted males…Maybe it’s because there are just some very sexy mothers out there, pushing their carts at Whole Foods. No matter its origins, I’m suggesting that we co-opt this term and wear it with pride.”

Like the word “MILF” itself, there is so much going on with Porter’s description. I admire her ability to see the silver lining of the “MILF” cloud, but I hardly think the word’s best feature is that men thought it up. Porter misses the mark on this one by several yards. Men did not invent “MILF” to empower sexy mothers: men invented “MILF” to objectify women. And if “MILF” is “evidence” that men are “healing,” why do women need to “co-opt” the term and reclaim it if it’s already so great?

I’m all for women taking control of their sexuality and adopting whatever words they believe best fit that project, but let’s consider the implications of “MILF” a little more closely before we jump on the adoption bandwagon. “MILF,” which stands for “Mother I’d Like to Fuck,” implies that there are certain mothers with whom one would have sex and others with whom one would not. In other words, some mothers are sexy and some mothers are not. Let me make this clear for the record: pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous act. To suggest that any woman who has given birth is anything less than sexy is to ignore the fundamental miracle of the woman’s ability to carry and conceive a child. Giving birth imparts its own kind of transcendent sexuality upon mothers, and that sexuality is far and above any kind of surface distinctions of what it means to be “smoking hot.”

But, fine. Let’s concede for a moment that Porter might have some semblance of a good idea operating in her cookbook. Encouraging women to embrace their sexuality can never be a bad thing. Unless, of course, you define exactly what that sexuality must look like and how women should get there. What kind of sexuality are we talking about anyways? It’s a certain “feminine je ne sais quoi,” Porter writes, that comes from being a “soft and receptive force.” “Remember, you radiate a powerful, womanly, nourishing force. Your very essence makes a man feel strong and alive.” The sexuality that Porter encourages women to embrace is the same misogynistic sexuality that society has been imposing on women for centuries. Why is it that a woman’s essence must make a man “feel strong and alive”? A woman’s sexuality is for no one but herself, and that means it may look nothing like Porter’s idea of sexuality, which is apparently something like being the “head pom pom waver on Mother Nature’s cheerleading squad.”

In case you do want to be a “card-carrying member of the Yin club,” make sure you buy lots of whole grains. They are the only way of becoming a true “MILF” because they are where “the female body finds its peaceful home again.” Porter wisely advises us that “sea vegetables will make your skin all dewy and your hair stronger and shinier. Bye-bye, tracksuits! Hello, cute tennis outfits! Your DILF won’t know what hit ‘im.” I am one hundred percent for healthy eating. But I cannot get behind Porter’s advocating for healthy eating as a disguised attempt to force all women into a narrow box of what it means to be sexy (you are only allowed to wear tennis outfits, apparently). Yet again, Porter concludes her argument with how the man will feel about a woman being healthy. Not how the woman will feel (only how she will look).

There is so much wrong with this cookbook. Not only does Porter include a recipe for DILF fried rice, but she encourages women to embrace their sexuality even as she rigidly defines for them what that sexuality is allowed to look like. The most fascinating and frustrating part of the entire charade is that Porter does this all in the guise of Feminism. Porter’s cookbook, which has received rave reviews on Amazon, promises that the MILF diet will help you “find your own inner balance and a whole new dimension to your feminine power.”

Feminine power? There isn’t one ounce of Feminism in this cookbook, and the entire project is an embarrassment to those critical works that have done so much for the Feminist movement. Emily Bestler Books released The MILF Diet on January 1st of this year, making Porter’s book an almost direct descendent of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which was published fifty years ago on February 19, 1963. It is disconcerting that the very “je ne sais quoi” problem which Friedan’s provocative piece took as its subject in 1963 becomes something to be eagerly sought after and worshipped in Porter’s modern cookbook.

Let us remember that ordinary objects are not exempt from their influence on Feminism and how we think about gender. Conscious consumerism can help eliminate these types of ridiculous products in the future. For now, we’re left with Porter’s “sexy and vital” cookbook and a faint hope that The MILF Diet contains a recipe for gouged-out eyeballs.

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