Babe, darling, love, honey, sweetie, boo, diamond, sweetheart, beloved, god/goddess – the list of pet names in relationships goes on and on. Names such as these are often said in an affectionate way, with most of them a little corny and cute if nothing else. Some names however can cause a bit more of a stir, with no pet name more controversial than a woman calling her male partner “daddy”.
I can already tell that some of you are cringing just from reading that. It is a term that causes a big reaction in many people, with numerous debates as to whether it is “normal” or healthy for this to be used in and out of the bedroom. I decided to do some research and find out other’s experiences of this seemingly bizarre name-calling.
An internet search attempting to find academic literature on this topic proved to be a difficult task as you can imagine, with the only sources of information on blogs and news websites. It would seem that the academics of the world have not caught up with the popularity of this name calling because it is EVERYWHERE on the internet. Forums with questions such as “Is it weird to call my boyfriend daddy?” and “I want to start calling my boyfriend daddy. Should I ask him first or just do it?” provided me with an insight into the reasoning behind women’s “daddy” desires.
Sigmund Freud’s theory behind opposite-sex parent attraction, known as the Oedipal complex, would suggest that in early stages of normal childhood development a child has a sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and feelings of jealousy and competition with the same sex parent. Despite sounding extremely bizarre, there is certainly proof of complex underlying psychological motivations for the daddy name calling phenomenon, however, I am choosing to stick with exploring the more conscious reasonings behind women’s choices.
One thing that is made very clear in all the articles I came across was that people using this term are not doing so from an incestuous frame of mind-in fact most are extremely insulted when queries around incest come up. The term “daddy” is used not as “father” but in the context of power differentiation between a couple during roleplay or sex.
In the BDSM world, the term daddy represents a dominant masculine figure with a loving, nurturing side. Dominant/submissive relationships between a “daddy” and his “little girl” are less to do with “daddy issues” or incest and more to do with power play. A daddy may discipline his submissive when she does something “wrong” however has her best interests in mind when doing so. This is much different when compared to a master/slave relationship dynamic where the power play is more sadomasochistic in nature and sees the slave degraded and much less than the master.
Something that I found interesting to see amongst the forums was the term “daddy issues”, with numerous women attempting to justify calling their partner daddy by saying that they don’t have them. First off, whether you were raised by a man or not, everyone carries some kind of baggage associated with their father. Now the severity of that is unique to each individual, with some people holding onto small experiences such as their father missing a soccer match, while others more devastatingly significant experiences such as childhood abuse, abandonment and betrayal. So to say you don’t have “daddy issues” ultimately means that you are unlike almost every other being on this planet, male or female, who has been affected in some way by the presence (or lack thereof) a father figure.
Secondly, I don’t see how “daddy issues” even come into the equation if incest has nothing to do with the reason behind calling your partner daddy. “Daddy issues” seems dis-empowering to me with negative connotations attached to the women who are labelled as having them. I feel that the concept that women are doomed because of their fathers needs to be eradicated in order for women to take back power over their own lives.
In my opinion, I believe that women who call their partner daddy are not needing a psychological intervention for this reason. As long as it’s consensual between both people involved and no one is being harmed, what’s the big deal? The use of daddy seems to be an affectionate name to signify a power differentiation in a sexual context. For the majority of people who use this term, it is not associated with any desire to be sexual with ones father like some people may think. That’s a whole other issue to be addressed!
If a woman desires to call her partner daddy and she is interested to explore it, I would suggest communicating with her partner prior to using it to ascertain his thoughts and boundaries around it. It can be extremely edgy for some people to explore so honouring ones limits is paramount. Sexual desires are so complex and unique for each individual. If women find they are being met by a partner who shares their desire, I believe it should be celebrated not condemned.
Originally published on http://www.adultsmart.com.au February, 2018