As someone who has seen hide nor hair of their father in seven years, I take real issue with the concept of ‘daddy issues’. I joke about it, as we all do, but when you really examine the principle, it’s pretty sickening.
This idea entirely encapsulates the belief that women’s valuation of their own bodies comes directly from their own personal, literal patriarchy. If the patriarch is missing, so is their sexual self-respect – seriously? Are we really saying that the only reason women feel free to explore their sexualities is because our daddies didn’t love us?
Why is it that people link the least sexual male-female relationship possible (that of a father and his daughter) to sexual promiscuity? If we examine it on the converse level, that of presence, not absence, perhaps the real issue is that girls who have ‘good’ relationships with their fathers are not seen to go on to explore their sexualities in the way women without fathers are apparently open to. Could it be that fathers repress their daughters’ sexualities to the point that women who have strong relationships with their fathers are actually the ones with the ‘issues’? They feel, to their own detriment, far less comfortable exploring their sexuality because of the foreboding shadow of their supposedly loving father – because to be sexually explorative would be to disrespect themselves, and therefore by proxy disrespect their fathers. Perhaps to wear a short skirt would be to make people, including said father, see her as a sexual object, in turn, causing him discomfort; but why is a father looking at his daughter’s body as a sexual body?
And why does it matter to him if others see her this way? Because men can’t stop themselves seeing female bodies as sexual, and thus posit the blame onto females when it is inappropriate for them to do so. Think of high school teachers’ discomfort in Year 8 girls wearing bright bras under their white shirts – these girls should by no means be being viewed in a sexual way, and yet because men can’t seem to desexualise a bra, even worn by a child, it is the thirteen-year-old’s fault for wearing one that will draw attention.
It’s all about this warped idea of shame in female sexuality. Shame on her because it puts shame on her personal patriarch; if your daughter wants to be sexual – heaven forbid – then you must have been a bad father. Why is it that fatherhood and female sexuality are apparently so interlinked? Power. The power structures that rest between the men who ‘own’ us. This mentality sees us as the possessions of men; first our fathers, who ‘moulded’ us, and then our lovers, to whom our bodies ‘belong’.
So, if you don’t believe in this archaic notion that women are owned by the men in our lives, and that our sexualities stem from the stability – or lack there-of – of our relationships with the least sexual man in our lives, then please stop saying someone has daddy issues because she’s choosing to wear PVC.