MILFS and Matrons: Images and Realities of Mothers' Sexuality

Beth Montemurro, Jenna Marie Siefken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Motherhood and sexual appeal are rarely linked in Western culture. There seems to be a notion that once a woman has children she is first and foremost an example, and must be responsible and conservative in a culturally specific way. Most women become mothers at some point in their lives and this is a major physical, emotional, and role transition, one that many women struggle with privately given societal ideals of a "good" mother. Despite its essential role in motherhood and life, and the health benefits known to be associated with sexual activity, public expression of sexuality is still primarily associated with being young, childless, and unmarried. Using a social constructionist perspective, we look at the ways in which acceptable expressions of mothers' sexuality are defined and negotiated by contemporary women. Based on in-depth interviews with fifty women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, we discuss women's images of mothers' sexuality and the ways in which motherhood impacts women's experiences of sexuality. We find that for most mothers interviewed, the way they felt about sex, their sexual appeal, and their level of sexual desire changed after having children. Coupled with the fatigue and responsibility associated with being a new mother, women felt disconnected from their sexuality for a period of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-388
Number of pages23
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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