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MILF is the 2nd most popular category on Pornhub in Australia. Champagne!

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Hardcore pornography doesn’t specialise in heart-warming news stories. But when Pornhub analysed its search data to break down Australia’s porn taste on a state-by-state basis, one result was strangely uplifting.

“Lesbian” topped the charts as the No.1 search term right across the country. But the second highest search was almost as universal: “MILF” scooped the No.2 spot in every state capital except for Canberra (the nation’s public servants prefer “Hentai” for the record).

MILF is, of course, an acronym for “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”. The term gate-crashed the public imagination back in 1999’s American Pie thanks to Jennifer Coolidge’s scene-stealing role as “Stifler’s Mom”.

Essentially, the MILF is the raunchier sister of the traditional yummy mummy. But since sauntering onto the scene in high-heels and a low-cut dress, she’s evolved into a mainstream fixture. Whether it was Brittany Spears wearing a “MILF in training” tank-top or Cyndi Crawford describing her brand as “MILF next door”, the term gained unexpected celebrity traction. The pop video for Fergie’s track M.I.L.F $, for instance, features racy cameos from Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and a veritable roll-call of Victoria’s Secret all-stars and supermodels. At the time of writing, it’s been ogled on YouTube 256 million times.

“…the MILF phenomenon asserts an important truth:  women can still be the objects of wild desire after they have kids. Sexuality is not only the preserve of impossibly pert 20-somethings, it suggests. Experience may even bring added benefits.”

What then to make of this MILF mania? Critics (of whom there are legion) slam the label as trashy and demeaning, yet another example of the gratuitous objectification of women and the hasty decline of western civilisation.

But it’s also possible – and bear with me on this one – to see the MILF as a positive validation of sorts.

Parenthood, after all, is traditionally cast as a one-way ticket to a moribund sex life. Mums and dads are invariably desexualised, just as most people are once they’ve reached a certain age. But the MILF phenomenon asserts an important truth:  women can still be the objects of wild desire after they have kids. Sexuality is not only the preserve of impossibly pert 20-somethings, it suggests. Experience may even bring added benefits.

The duality of the MILF persona – she is both mom and sex-bomb – may hardly seem like groundbreaking progress in the depiction of modern women. But one thing the MILF does achieve is a definitive smackdown of what Sigmund Freud called the “Madonna/whore complex”.

What the granddaddy of psychoanalysis was referring to here was the sad habit of some men to compartmentalise women into rigid categories. Eyed through this prism, a woman can either be a good girl (chaste, nurturing, motherly) or a good-time girl  (depraved, sexual, impure). There is no middle ground where the two overlap.

Needless to say, this is not a healthy mindset. Indeed a recent study in the journal Sex Roles, revealed that men with this attitude typically suffer “chronic dissatisfaction in their romantic relationships”.  Whatever your take on the MILF, she at least proves that being maternal and smoking hot are not mutually exclusive.

Certainly, judging by the numbers, the MILF is more desirable than ever. In 2018, Pornhub notched up 33.5 billion visits worldwide. Suffice to say, that’s a decent sample size. Among that huge volume of traffic, MILF was the third highest search term overall.

Given the context, I find that vaguely reassuring. Porn, after all, isn’t a particularly savoury business and, as it caters to an ever more jaded audience, the content invariably gets weirder and more extreme. Frankly, in a world of school-girl gangbangs, clown porn and bukkake, the MILF category feels comparatively benign. So we’re with Simon & Garfunkel on this one: here’s to you, Mrs Robinson, here’s to you.