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What Does Calling Someone “Mother” on The Internet Mean?

2 mins read
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If you are on Twitter, you have most likely seen the term “Mother.”

Social media users are using the word “mother” to describe everyone from Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Lana Del Rey, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, Hayden Panettiere in Scream VI , Love Quinn in You, and Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen in The Last of Us.

What does calling someone “Mother” mean on the internet?

  • On the internet today, “mother” is the highest form of flattery.
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  • In internet culture, the term mother is a reverential term colloquially applied to women whose work is admired and considered iconic. It can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb.
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  • The term “mother” received media attention when a viral video emerged of Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Sarah Michelle Gellar being asked about being an LGBTQ+ icon by Sam Damshenas at The Gay Times on January 27. Gellar asked the audience to explain why the queer community called her “Mother.” Damshenas answered: “When the gays love a woman, we think MOTHER!” Following the event, Gellar changed her Instagram bio description to “Mother.”
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  • On Mother’s Day on May 14, Taylor Swift hilariously acknowledged the “mother” comments from her online fans during her Eras tour saying: “Something that you guys are always saying online is ‘mother is mothering’ which I think you mean in a totally different context than Mother’s Day.”
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    How to use it: “She is mother,” “She’s so mother,””Mother of mothers,” “Mother was mothering so hard here,” and “Mother has arrived.”

    Where did the term “mother” come from?

    • Although the slang term “mother” is widely used online now, the term is deeply grounded in queer history and identity. Like the terms “yasss queen”, “it’s giving,” and “serving realness”, the word has its origins in the lexicon of LBTQ+ drag and ballroom underground subculture of the 1980s and 1990s.
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    • Most of the people who belonged to groups known as “Houses” in underground Ballroom culture were gay men, drag queens, or trans women — many who found themselves marginalized from their community or rejected by their families because of their queerness. In this setting, houses served a greater purpose than only for competing in ballroom. They also often served as substitute families to the people who belonged in them.
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    • These houses were led by a “house mother” who were experienced members of the queer ballroom scene who provide guidance and support for their house “children.”
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    • Today, the LGBTQ+ community connects with previous generations of queer people by using their language and calling beloved female icons “mother.”
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    • Twitter users that post opinions about music, movies, and television culture (particularly in the Stan Twitter community) have also adopted the “mother” terminology to describe admired female artists and celebrities.
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    • Mother may also be an extension of the complimentary internet slang term “mom” of the late 2010s.
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    Update 05/15/2023 by Pesala Bandara: Information on Taylor Swift saying “Mother is mothering” added