With Bad Moms, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (yes, two dudes) have created a small and limited world for two-dimensional female characters to run wild in. Despite strong performances from Kristen Bell and the great Kathryn Hahn, who play the highly caricatured roles of Kiki ("sad and lonely stay-at-home mom") and Carla ("feral, drunken, single mom"), Bad Moms is a very bad movie.

"We all work too damn hard trying to make our kids' lives amazing and magical," the protagonist Amy (Mila Kunis) screeches to Kiki and Carla after a long day and a bottle of Scotch. "Their lives already are amazing and magical. Let's be bad moms!"

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The film's premise—to reclaim and subvert the term "bad mom"—is basic at best and, at worst, deeply flawed. Once Amy becomes a bad mom—blowing off work, drinking wine, not doing her kid's homework, abandoning cooking—she finds happiness. Suddenly, she has friends, a higher salary, and great sex with plenty of oral. (It helps that she's also attractive, thin, straight, and wealthy.)

Despite all this, Bad Moms does have a few entertaining montages set to pop music that provide satisfying comedic and physical release—a drunken, rage-filled grocery shopping spree and a party where everyone dances with phallic vodka bottles and does whip-its. It's no doubt exactly the relief that its audience, including many mothers on a rare night off, are seeking.

But one question nagged at me throughout the film, even as I found myself laughing: While these women are out partying, who is watching their children?

The issue is addressed once, anemically. After catching Kiki out at a restaurant having a salad and champagne for lunch, her angry husband demands to know who is at home with their four children. "Rosa," she replies quietly, hinting at the legions of domestic care workers who make even the smallest acts of luxury possible.

Though it never manages to successfully reclaim the term "bad mom," the movie at least has a tiny foothold in reality. It allows its mothers to appear angry, violent, desperate, and, occasionally, in sweatpants. By contrast, pop culture's other most recent attempt at female empowerment, the music video for pop/R&B singer Fergie's song "M.I.L.F.$," completely fails at reclaiming the term MILF into anything transgressive, let alone progressive.

"Changing the acronym to Moms I'd Like to Follow [from Moms I'd Like to Fuck] is about empowering women who did it all," Fergie said. "They have a career and a family, and still find time to take care of themselves and feel sexy."

It's all a lie, of course.

However empowering women may find the term MILF, the male gaze is built directly into it. The truth is, we're all fuckable—only, as the video makes abundantly clear, some of us more so than others.

The video, directed by Colin Tilley, opens with the "MILFman" driving through MILFville, a pastel-colored suburb that looks like a bargain basement David LaChapelle set, to deliver milk to Fergie and other celebrity mothers including Kim Kardashian, Ciara, and Chrissy Teigen.

"Heard you in the mood for a little MILFshake," Fergie croons. "Welcome to the Dairy Dutchess Love Factory."

Fergie welcomes us to many places: the MILF Spa where she bathes in a tub of milk, a 1950s boozy soda counter where women hang from stripper poles in giant strawberry milkshakes, and a classroom filled with teenage boys in lettermen jackets who are all hot for teacher. "M.I.L.F.$" culminates with a scene in which Kardashian, clad in nude-colored latex lingerie and 10-inch gold heels, showers in thick white liquid. In lurid clips, Fergie, dressed in a yellow-and-black vinyl swimsuit that reads "slippery when wet," and others pour milk (or is it semen?) all over their bodies.

The only subversive moment in the "M.I.L.F.$" video is a brief shot of Teigen, a swimsuit model and cookbook author, breast-feeding her infant daughter. Despite Teigen's best attempts to seduce the camera with a pouty-lipped kissy face, there's nothing sexual going on here, just a breast doing exactly what it was designed to do—sustain life.

The trailer for Bad Moms features fuchsia-and-white stencil lettering on a black background. It immediately called to mind the cover design of The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson's singular and necessary examination of bodies, love, and motherhood that was released last year. In it, Nelson wrests parenthood out of heteronormativity's choke hold and expands it into something much larger and complex. At one point, she posits that pregnancy, a state "so profoundly strange and wild and transformative," might actually be "inherently queer."

Amid the daily grind of work—both public and private—and our deadly culture that values some lives more than others, choosing to guide a small human through the whole mess can feel like a radical act of hope. But watching Bad Moms and "M.I.L.F.$," I felt hollow. They were grim reminders that motherhood is still, in Nelson's words, "the ultimate conformity."