Brad Cibane
Brad Cibane

Patriarchy bad for men too

“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.

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    • Kevin

      I might be wrong here but is your premise for claiming that patriarchy is wrong for men only hinged on sex?

    • J.J.

      Women are more attracted to dominant men as a fact of life (weather or not they would admit it). How do you explain that, Brad? I guess you are going to tell us next that they have been conditioned by men into it, just like Bert Oliver did a few weeks ago. I highly recommend that you read up on some evolutionary biology and in fact, besides just looking around you and learning from observation, inform yourself about biological attraction mechanisms and how males and females are wired differently.
      Women are simply more attracted to more dominant men – whether that means more affluent, more assertive, having a high(er) status, or being physically stronger. It’s a fact of life. So, in effect they are attracted to providers and protectors, biologically speaking. Even when they are able to find jobs and build their own careers now that they have so much freedom, they till prefer men with high status and they often will still choose to find a male partner to provide for them, as a backup and as a supplement to their careers, which they may or may not give up at some stage and go full time house wife or stay at home mum. It’s all about choice – women have more choices than men and they utilize all of them. Regardless they are ultimately driven by their instinctual drives / biological programming.

      Patriarchy is set by the nature that men are physically more dominant (stronger, more assertive, more driven). Patriarchy is a natural fact of life.

    • bernpm

      “…..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.”……

      Join a nudist society and you will get rid of this bodily hangup. The newly won freedom will create an even platform with male persons in such a society on acceptance and respect.

    • Gillian Schutte

      Teach boys that they are sentient human beings – they will discover their own penis’s. Teach them to love and respect women – the great sex follows suit. Teach them them ancient knowledge of sex, passion, play – which is the opposite of patriarchy. Great article Brad. As the mother of a teenage son I am so aware of how much of our teaching is undone by social/popular culture messaging which feeds the patriarchy – but this just means we need to step up our passing of an alternative knowledge to our kids – in a way that helps them deconstruct the patriarchal construct that our world is based upon.

      I enjoyed reading this. :)

    • Jen

      I think you’d enjoy a visit to – sure you could find some more information on challenging masculinity

    • @NATE_IV_SA


      Though partenalistic, you do have a point.

      Take a girl and boy, guarantined from religion (or any viral meme?) since birth. Place them on an island and come back millenia later. which sex will be leading the pack?

      Corruption clings itself to power. Not colour or sex. Apartheid was power. Look at our kleptocracy. Racism is Power. Look at my own folk calling other blacks worse than K word. OR, pretend to mistook your slightly darker S. African darkie with a Nigerian…learn self-defence prior. Our neighbours, continentally speaking, share the notion that S. Africans are full of themselves. Delving deeper, you’ll notice they mean us, blacks. It’s over generalization but it’s a microcosmic case of America to the world.

      We can zoom in even further with what I termed ‘Bessie Head Syndrome’, (inspired her novel, Maru where she probes this factoid): I live in Bloemfontein, and we generally give celebrities, average joes, from surrounding provinces (especially the BIG THREE) a tepid shoulder – lest they prove themselves otherwise – because their (sooo) self-referential predisposition.

      Alas, we’re not an exception. Those from Botshabelo (and other smaller towns around us) have more or less similar notions about us. It’s a concentric vicious circle.

      I wish we were in a Matriarchal world and you’d see what I mean. Cruelty that a woman can’t inflict will simply be relegated to the other sex. Jews fled persecutions under Hitler, but most of them were…

    • @NATE_IV_SA

      …in a state of nirvana or suffering from ambivalency during Apartheid.

      I wish there was an antidote, but corruption will forever flirt with power, and darn is she a medUSA.

      I’ve been meaning to write a provocative article, Why I Love Aparheid. Afrikaaners were looking out for themselves. What’s your reason in the office for kleptocracy? That makes you worse than a worst racist there ever was. Infants and child prostitution and crime and mortality on your watch, while you furnish yourself with fleet of cars and mansions and tenderpreneurship.

      Ah, the lips of medUSA.

    • Momma Cyndi

      Something that has always amused and confused me is the myth about men and women having different sexual histories. If 10 men sleep with an average of 20 women in their lives and 10 women sleep with an average of 5 men in their lives – who (or what) are the men sleeping with? Someone is counting wrong as the balance sheet doesn’t balance.

      Women seek a person they feel protected by. Men often misinterpret that to mean that we want someone to dominate us. We don’t. Any relationship that is based on a parent / child model is bound to fail as the child has to grow up at some stage – that is the way nature works