Farmer's daughter


"The Farmer's Daughter" (date unknown), by John Everett Millais (1829–1896)

The farmer's daughter or farm girl is a term for a stock character and stereotype in fiction for the daughter of a farmer, who is often portrayed as a desirable and naïve young woman. She is described as being an "open-air type" and "public-spirited", who will tend to marry a hero and settle down.[1][2]


Sexual humour

The 1976 pornographic film The Farmer's Daughters plays on the sexual aspects of the term

The character has historically often formed the basis for a series of jokes, known as "farmer's daughter jokes", which tend to be sexual in nature and focus on acts of promiscuity.[3] A medieval French story describes a farmer's daughter who "Couldn't Bear to Hear About Fucking". In the story, the farmer's daughter is rendered physically ill by the very mention of vulgarisms, so she and her father's farmhand come up with euphemisms, referring to his penis as a horse and her vagina as a spring; at the end of the story, however, she instructs him to water his horse in her spring, implying that she is unwilling to speak vulgar words, but readily performs the acts.[4]

The plot of "farmer's daughter" jokes often involves the seduction of the daughter by another stock character, the peddler.[5][6] The concept of the farmer's daughter having sex with an itinerant traveling salesman is particularly prominent in American retellings, where they are "closely associated with Ozark subculture", and where some jokes can be traced back to at least 1900.[3]

Character stereotypes

Several stereotypes have been attached to farmer's daughters. The farmer's daughter is also characterized as being physically healthy. In a 1753 parliamentary debate in England, a speaker extolling the right of people to marry outside their class stated: "a farmer's daughter is a match for the eldest son of the best lord in the land, and perhaps a better match than his father would chuse for him, because she will bring good and wholesome blood into the family".[7]

Another characteristic is the desire of the farmer's daughter to leave the farm and discover the city and urban life. A mid-20th century American account relates that the author "heard it often stressed that a farmer's daughter is the right woman for the farmhouse. Time and time again I have heard a farmer's daughter say that she would never be a farmer's wife, yes, and at times when she's asked, she changes her mind!"[8]

Popular culture

The character of the farmer's daughter appears in several popular mainstream media productions, including the three daughters, Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo in the sitcom Petticoat Junction, Mary Ann Summers in Gilligan's Island, Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, and Elly May Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as Daisy Mae in the comic strip Li'l Abner.[9]


  1. ^ Wood, Robin (2006), Howard Hawks, Wayne State University Press, p. 30, ISBN 978-0-8143-3276-4
  2. ^ Kohlke, Marie-Luise; Orza, Luisa (22 October 2008). Negotiating sexual idioms: image, text, performance. Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2491-5. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b Christopher R. Fee, Jeffrey B. Webb, American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales (2016), p. 363.
  4. ^ Ruth Mazo Karras, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others (2017), p. 23.
  5. ^ Allen, O. Wesley (2000), Reading the Synoptic Gospels: basic methods for interpreting Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Chalice Press, pp. 57–58, ISBN 978-0-8272-3219-8
  6. ^ Legman, G. (2006), Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor, Volume 1 (reprint ed.), Simon & Schuster, p. 99, ISBN 978-0-7432-9252-8
  7. ^ The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the year 1803, (1813), p. 16.
  8. ^ Edwin O. Hector, The business of farming: a short working guide (1959), p. 208.
  9. ^ Marie-Luise Kohlke, Luisa Orza, Negotiating Sexual Idioms: Image, Text, Performance (2008), p. 40.