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During my time in quarantine, I was on and off dating apps a lot to help alleviate some of my boredom. I didn’t interact much with people on them as I’m not a huge fan of dating apps but there was something I’d noticed that really bugged me—I’d see a lot of guys and girls, particularly those who were looking for casual hookups, make comments about daddy issues in their bios. They’d say things like “Love a girl with daddy issues”, “Swipe right if you have daddy issues”, or even “Get you a girl with daddy issues” with some quirky emoji after. It’s likely that at least some of these were jokes but it raised a really frustrating concern about how we presume our relationships with our parents affect our sex lives. 

For anyone who doesn’t really understand what it means to have “daddy issues”, a person with daddy issues is ultimately just a person who has a negative or non-existent relationship with their father. Although there are also people with mommy issues, we don’t hear about them nearly as much. Daddy issues are a weirdly popular topic to come up over the years on social media and it often feels like they’re treated as some sort of trendy personality trait. And a big part of this is simply the sexualization of them. 

A girl having a negative relationship with her father has become disturbingly fetishized in pop culture. Women with daddy issues are written off as being in search of male approval and validation, who pursue toxic men and, of course, are more sexually active and wild. While it’s likely there are some women who actually experience these things as a result of a negative relationship with a parent, social media seems to generalize these things to all women with daddy issues and additionally fetishizes them, treating their trauma as sexy rather than…well, traumatic. 

It’s important to make it clear that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a daddy kink; lots of people enjoy calling their partner’s daddy or like to be called daddy themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re playing out some disturbing Sigmund Freud theory. 

However, I think that the concept of daddy kinks and the fetishization of daddy issues are two very different things. One is simply a title given to your partner that appeals to a dom/sub type of power dynamic during sex; the other implies that women’s sex lives actually revolve around their father and that the person fetishizing this wishes to exploit a woman’s misery for their own sexual gain. 

A girl’s relationship with her father does not in any way define her as a person and certainly shouldn’t indicate anything about her sexual relationships with men. Daddy issues and the psychological effects they have are complex but they’re talked about in very trivial and fetishizing ways. I think it’s time for us to really consider the appeal of girls with daddy issues and question what it might say about you if you’re one of the people on dating apps sexualizing them.

I am a second year Literature, Media, and Communication major at Georgia Tech interested in working in marketing and/or PR. I was a writer for the Georgia Voice, a local LGBTQ magazine, and currently write for the Center of Teaching and Learning at Tech in addition to writing for Her Campus.
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