Who’s ya daddy?

You Don’t Have Daddy Issues, Your Dad Has Issues

Ever fancied a cuddle after sex? Or ever wanted to roll over and forget about it instead? Either or, if you’ve ever had any form of casual sex, you’ve probs been told at some point, that you’ve got ‘daddy issues’. It’s a classic trope, usually rolled out by a rejected Brad trying to protect his fragile ego. Everyone goes on about em, but what actually are daddy issues? Time for a Grapefruit deep dive.

A simple Google will get to the bottom of this you’d imagine. Nope. Google “daddy issues definition” and you’ll be met with a smattering of irrelevant results, mainly articles that may as well have been written by Brad himself, “6 Signs You Might Have Daddy Issues & What It Means” orrr “8 Signs You Have ‘Daddy Issues”, none of which actually explain what daddy issues are (I remember when Google used to answer stuff too). You could almost say ‘daddy issues’ may not actually be a real thing and instead just be a buzz phrase, used by the clickbait sites and self-diagnosis gurus who can’t wait to capitalise on the opportunity to trivialise women’s childhood trauma and convince them they have yet another thing wrong with them.

Without a precise definition from Google, it was time to take myself to the public library (lol as if they exist in a useful form under a Tory government) to get to the bottom of what the fuck “Daddy issues” actually means. This led us to Carl Jung, a friend of a friend shall we say, and his Electra Complex theory. What is this, AS psychology? Yup, time for some psychoanalytic theory for dummies.

Psychoanalytic theory for dummies. 

Carl Jung built the Electra Complex on the basis of ol’ Siggy’s Oedipal complex theory. The idea goes that a young girl (3-6), becomes subconsciously sexually attached to her dad, in turn, making her increasingly hostile towards her ma. Freud reckoned that this age is when both boys and girls become fixated on the penis, although I can’t say 5-year-old me was fixated on anything other than cutting the hair of my Barbie dolls tbh.

Freud argued that girls fixate on their lack of a dick and, in its absence, their clitoris (does this guy ever stop on his one-man crusade against the clit?). In a girl’s psychosexual development, appaz she first attaches to her mother until she realises she also doesn’t have a penis so hates her, “penis envy” as Freud so progressively named it. This leads to girls then developing an attachment to their father before quickly realising that men are arseholes and she actually gets on better with her ma so copies her mum’s behaviour out of fear of losing her love. 

Freud believed this whole sitch was crucial in a young girl’s development, as it leads her to accept gender roles (lol) and understand her own sexuality. Because this whole scenario is more emotionally intense than what young guys go through, Freud says it’s repressed more harshly by young girls, which leads to women being less self-confident and more subservient in later life (cheers for writing us off aged 5 m8). You’ve forgotten about Carl Jung now haven’t you? Don’t worry, basically he just came along and give this whole theory a name, the Electra complex.

Hang on, I’m BA not BSc, what’s all this got to do with Daddy issues? Yeah, fair. Well, the Electra complex has since been massively debunked in the psychologist world, cos u know, newer attachment theories, its reliance on heteronormative gender roles etc. That’s not to say that your relationship with both yer ma and yer da doesn’t have a massive impact on your future relationships, ur not getting any brownie points for that one Sigmund. Despite all of the debunking, daddy issues are still thriving, so why the fuck are we still going on about it?

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For a start, Daddy issues are far far too overrepresented in the media, think of most major cultural phenomena and you’ll find at least one character with “daddy issues”, from Buffy to How I Met Your Mother, from Mad Men to Pretty in Pink, they’re all at it, and all written by straight, white men, no less. No comments, your honour. Perhaps this is just an easy thing to write into a character’s backstory and these writers are lazy, perhaps they have unresolved parental issues themselves and perhaps they’re women hating bastards, who knows. What we do know though, is that this filters down throughout society into everyday life, adding to the list of things women are blamed for that isn’t actually anything to do with them.

How have we, as a society, managed to spin the failure of men as fathers as being the fault of the 5-year-old gal? We’ve taken a daughter’s messed up, potentially seriously traumatic relationship with her father and blamed her for it. Whilst this might make men feel better, and absolve them of any responsibility, it has some pretty damaging impacts on the women involved. Guilt, shame, damaged goods, and unloveable are just a few of the feelings involved. 

The stigma attached to women with “daddy issues” rages on, a constant source of trolling on men’s forums online. With men “avoiding these women like the plague” for an extraordinary number of sexist reasons, from “not being used to taking orders from a man” to “requiring too much emotional support”. Ultimately, it ties back to the fragile male ego, or as some might call it, clit envy. 

Saying someone has daddy issues is, easier than reflecting and ultimately, slut shaming. If she has daddy issues, she is seen as an easy quick shag, spoiled goods with too much baggage. And yes, perhaps some women’s response to trauma is to, later in life, choose to sleep with more people, as a means of control. Sex can be healing. Maybe a woman wants to jump from relationship to relationship, or get her tiny tits out or cover up her legs or flirt with a guy or not sleep with someone or have sex with a load of men and prefer to remain emotionally unattached. All of these can be completely acceptable behaviours.

There’s no easy way for a person to handle a traumatic relationship with a parent, and perhaps we should quite simply, just stop trivialising trauma. Instead of turning daddy issues into an easy, potentially triggering, throwaway insult for people to bash women with (yeah, like the world needed more of these), can’t we just leave this shit to the professionals? They scrapped “daddy issues” as a concept a long time ago. Next time someone says it, you don’t have daddy issues, your dad has issues. Or even better, ask em what they mean and enjoy the squirm.

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