“Who’s your daddy?” This is the infamous slogan of commercialised intimacy. A masculine Mandingo demands an answer, while his submissive remnant of a woman is supposed to respond with “Yes, you are my daddy!”
Eric Zorn deconstructed the phrase in a piece in the Chicago Tribune. He described it as “a boastful claim of dominance over the intended listener”.
Paul Farhi, writing for The Washington Post, says “it’s a demand, a boast, an all-around statement of superiority in three simple, yet quizzical words”. He explains that while the phrase has several undertones, “its most direct and historic meaning has been sexual. The origins of the full phrase are obscure, but the slang use of ‘daddy’ has long been associated with prostitution”.
The phrase is direct reference to a dominant sexual partner in a sexual relationship.
Doug “Greaseman” Tracht, who was famous for using the phrase on radio in the early 1990s, explains that “as men we want validation because we are such inept lovers … [the phrase] just kind of popped out of the blue”.
“Daddy” or father is the ultimate symbol of patriarchy. By patriarchal traditions, a father is a provider and protector. Even in law, the standard of morality and reasonable behaviour is a bonus paterfamilias (a good family father).
While I doubt that many contemporary men use the phrase, I am certain that most think of it. There are various contemporary and crude variations, like “I knocked the ***** out” or “I owned that!”
Sexual intercourse, that act of ultimate intimacy between man and woman is pervaded and turned into the strongest institution of patriarchy.
The way women and men think about sex, the perception that there is a supposedly natural distinction in our susceptibility to emotional attachment, is a root cause of patriarchy.
A friend explained to me that she will never sleep with a stranger, no matter the circumstances. I responded with the so-called “sexual liberation” of the womyn folk. “Why does it matter how many people you sleep with or how many of them were a naughty rendezvous with random strangers?” I asked. “If men can have one-night stands, surely women should too!” I added before she could respond.
She responded with something more profound: “I couldn’t care less what men or women think of my sexual history. In fact, I couldn’t be bothered where little boys stick their *****. It’s about me. Every time I take off my clothes, I feel like I am giving away a part of myself. I would like to do that with someone I care about.”
This is when I realised that men too are victims of patriarchy.
For centuries we have been beholden to the nonsensical notion that men are superior to women. Even as change in ideas destroys this sandcastle, we continue to harbour these notions in our private lives.
How — then — are we victims and not perpetrators?
Sexual intercourse, even for non-religious people, is supposed to be about intimacy. It is an ultimate act of vulnerability. You take off your clothes, exposing your bare nakedness, and trusting that the other person accepts you. It is the ultimate give and take!
The act itself is definitive ecstasy, more pleasurable than the most excellent piece of music or art. It the only time when even the most ordinary person gets to become Picasso, Mozart and Da Vinci, all in one.
Yet, patriarchy deprives men of that experience. Instead of letting go, it dictates to men to hold steadfast, to be in control; to be the “daddy”. Sex becomes a marathon, about meaningless numbers and counting minutes. Sex becomes a power-play, which — frankly — I find exhausting.
How should men break free from shackles of patriarchy? I still don’t have an answer. I do, however, think it starts with young boys. Instead of teaching boys to be “men”, which generally means masculinity and entitlement, teach them that they are just human beings with penises.