Call Me “Daddy”
Daddies take care. They’re handsome. They fuck well.
Rooted in the perversion of patriarchal notions of power and control, the fetishization of masculine dominance has a long history in sexual expressions.
It’s a moniker well loved by the queer community. While it used to be reserved for elder gays, Daddies have now spread their rainbow wings to people of all genders.
It also became so widespread in mainstream use that the New York Times named 2018, “The Year of the Daddy.” Later that year, Matt Damon and Kate MacKinnon’s SNL skit of “The Westminster Daddy Show” facetiously declared, “any man can be a father, but it takes a hot middle-aged guy with a big job to be a Daddy.”
So, why am I talking about it now? Because sometimes, I’m a Daddy, and I wanted to unpack some of what that means.
This should go without saying but people who call their sexual partners “Daddy” do not all have “daddy issues.” They are not harboring an Electra Complex (that is, reverse Oedipal in neo-Freudian psychoanalysis where daughters compete with their mothers for father’s love and sexual attention).
When Daddy is used as a sexual pet name, it doesn’t signify fatherhood, but is a stand-in for the imagined power dynamics of someone strong, attractive, and protecting.
It’s not incest play and does not necessarily connote age play.
In some ways it reimagines the figure as one of caretaking, potentially complicating the figural connection with what we normatively imagine a Daddy to be in connection to fatherhood and paternalism. In others, it throws the referent out the window.
Real and imagined power dynamics in sex are typically constructed on relationships that have real-life referents. The fun comes in their perversion. So, rather than buttressing patriarchal misogyny through submission to male authority figures, further queering the Daddy figure may help reimagine power.
Historicize me, Daddy.
Some linguistic tracing of the term draws back to early 17th century, but it seems likely that the modern understandings of a sexualized Daddy are rooted in the 20th and source their origins from Black jazz culture. Sugar daddies are long known understandings of men who can provide financial security and material comforts in a sexualized relationship.
Some of the origins of Daddy-boy/boi relations do come from the historical ostracization of queer people from their bio/heterosexual family structures. While this wasn’t always the negatively associated “grooming,” having larger than het-average age gaps between partners partially functioned as a way to guide young queers into non-normative life and its survival.
There are parallels and overlap with the kink community, where newcomers were guided by (usually) older, more knowledgeable, Dominants, who could teach safety and the spectrum and techniques of play. This was especially important before wider accessibility of available information on the internet and before greater acceptance of a visible kink community.
Heteronormativity forced queer reimagination of family, relationships, and care. But no, #daddygate was not cultural appropriation (ICYMI was some Twitter spat about hets using Daddy and “appropriating” queer culture as a result).
Who’s your Daddy?
The point of all of this is that you might be a Daddy or have a Daddy and not be a cis gay man, or a straight hot dad, or a leatherdyke, or in a financial exchange with your partner.
Daddy says nothing about gender and only a little about relational dynamics.
It might fit for you or your partner(s) and it might not. I was surprised when it did for me and I kind of love it.