The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: Daddy! If he misses the recital, does that really make him the worst? Is it totally normal that we think of it as a sexy word?
Lie #1: “Daddy Said He’d Be Here, He Must Not Care About Me”
In movies, a dad missing his kid’s Christmas pageant, Little League game or violin recital within the first 15 minutes is a sure sign that for the next 75 minutes, he’ll be on a madcap journey of redemption and learning the real priorities in life.
If there’s a job involved, however, which there usually is — 81 percent of U.S. families have at least one employed member, and 60 percent of children have two working parents — it’s not that straightforward. They can take the day off for it, of course, but with the average American worker only having ten days of paid vacation per year, is it in the family’s best interests to burn through half of them showing up to school plays? Or there’s taking the day off unpaid, resulting in the most expensive school pageant ticket ever. Is missing rent because you wanted to see your kid dressed up as Idaho actually being a good parent?
If both parents can go to a play at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, they’re likely to be at the top or the bottom of the employment chain — either unemployed or at an elite, shot-calling level. Most people don’t get to stand up mid-afternoon and demand that their assistant reschedule their meetings and book a limo to the academy to see Junior butcher “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Kids understand that their parents work, and commute, and can’t be everywhere. Making everyone feel like shit about it just isn’t necessary. It’s a lazy, crappy trope nobody needs to see again.
Lie #2: Having “Daddy” Be A Sexy Thing Is Totally Normal
It isn’t, is it? Or, it probably shouldn’t be. Like the surge in popularity of incest-themed pornography, the phenomenon of calling someone “Daddy” during sex, or requesting that they call you it, is probably something we should really look at societally rather than just laughing off — not in the interest of kink-shaming, but in the interest of questioning exactly where we are. (It should be pointed out that lots of familial language is used in sexual contexts — if you think about it, it’s pretty weird to call someone you’re having sex with “baby.”)
The peculiar sexualization of Daddy over the last few years into a slightly ironic real-life horny meme (the New York Times proclaimed 2018 to be “the year of the daddy”) is odder than the journeys most words take. It’s featured in weird archaic expressions like “daddy-o” as a form of address, “who’s your daddy?” as an expression of dominance and has multiple meanings in queer culture and the BDSM world. Mostly, though, it’s what you called your dad when you were a kid.
Fans of the term argue that in a sexual context, “daddy” isn’t about a father figure at all, but an attractive combination of power and nurture — someone who can both express authority and make you feel safe. But it’s surely not beyond the abilities of society to come up with another term that encapsulates that without also being what you called your dad when you were a kid.
The word has been used since the 17th century by sex workers addressing their pimps, too, which isn’t generally something you might want to model a romantic relationship on. The power dynamics in a pimp-hooker setup could generally be charitably described as “iffy,” and surely aren’t congruent with how people want their relationships to work.
But as well as that, there’s its usual meaning — your father. Sadly, fathers and sex coincide more than they should. According to RAINN, in 34 percent of the cases of children being sexually abused (and, of course, a colossal amount goes unreported), the abuser is a family member. In 88 percent of cases, the perpetrator is male. Lives are destroyed by this every day, which arguably makes it… not a nice thing to joke about in the bedroom? Having fun with the idea of just about the worst thing that could happen to someone? Child sexual abuse is more common than cancer, yet most people would probably see joking about cancer during sex as mood-ruining at best.
Lie #3: TV’s Lazy Dad Stereotypes Do Real Fathers A Disservice
Weird sex stuff aside, most stereotypes about fathers are pretty unflattering — they’re all about them being lazy, useless, dorky and out of shape. Dad jokes, dad jeans, dad dancing, dad bod, shit-ass strips in the Sunday funnies about dads who only like napping and sandwiches, sitcom after sitcom about chunky dumbasses married to women vastly better than them, that kind of thing. In the world of TV, dads are either entirely disinterested (Al from Married With Children, Raymond from Everybody Loves Raymond) or enthusiastic but clueless (Tim from Home Improvement, Phil from Modern Family). Homer Simpson, arguably the most beloved character in TV history, regularly chokes his firstborn.
Thinking about it, it seems kind of odd that millions of people regularly sit down to watch fathers not be very good at fatherhood. Isn’t part of entertainment meant to be escapism?
Sadly, it is.
There are so, so many shitty dads out there that make Al Bundy look like a fucking saint. Sure, he makes mean jokes about his family, but there isn’t an episode where he runs away with money meant to fund lifesaving medical care for his son, spending it on drugs and prostitutes, leaving the boy to die, like this dad did. Ray Barone is a useless father, but at no point did he use his baby as a human shield in a drug deal gone awry, like this dad did. Obviously there are great fathers out there, just as there are shitty moms, but it’s telling that the Bad Moms franchise is about mothers that drink a bunch of wine, do some swearing, talk about dicks and cut loose, but still look after their kids — a Bad Dads movie would just be horrible.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air famously featured one of the most heartbreaking father-son scenes ever filmed, but there are millions of people who would do anything for leaving to be the worst thing their dad ever did to them. As well as escapism, entertainment provides relatability, and for far too many people, a TV landscape filled with responsible, loving fathers who were both physically and emotionally present would require too much suspension of disbelief.
Lie #4: “I Need A Sugar Daddy: Free Money, Yo!”
It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Some mad old fucker giving you money every month for nothing more than being cute. Hooray!
There’s more to it than that, though — there are enough (potential) sources of stress and anxiety that it isn’t so much “money for nothing” as “money for work,” which is a totally different thing. And, as the website Sugar Daddy World points out, it’s work that does come with downsides. Of the hundreds of testimonials from sugar babies, many deal with the emotional toll of being in a relationship with an extremely clear hierarchy. Others deal with the effects on a sugar baby’s other relationships, including consequences like being rejected by their families, and guilt at being a married man’s “dirty little secret.”
Plus, you know, you might be made to interact with the junk of someone whose junk you really don’t want to interact with. While the image of the kindly old eccentric who just wants to put a smile on your face is nice, according to the Penn State Law Review, the majority of sugar daddies expect sex.
Oh yeah, there’s also being in physical danger. Yep, that’s another, hideous, enormous downside: thinking you might be murdered. One sugar baby told My London that on her first date with a sugar daddy, she was “so scared I asked if I could get out the car and post the money through the door in case he killed me.”
Not only is any job where you ever have to think that not a good job, you might not even get paid. Last year, the New York Times uncovered a man using SeekingArrangement — the best-known sugar daddy site, run by a man who claims love “is a concept invented by poor people” — to con women into sex without the payment ever going through, and getting the women to pay for the hotel rooms.
And even if you get it, the money isn’t even that good. SeekingArrangement boasts that college students (the most in-demand group of women) earn on average $36,000 per year through the site. That’s definitely a useful chunk of money, but it’s not a huge sum for a job in which your thought process might regularly include assuming you’ll be murdered and working out the practicalities around it.
There are probably plenty of really nice dudes on there, kinda, perhaps, but there are definitely plenty of wealthy dirtbags. One former sugar baby told the student newspaper Epigram, “Without a doubt, you are putting yourself in an extremely vulnerable position. There is a reason the men have chosen SeekingArrangement over eHarmony, and that is to have sex with younger girls.”
Millionaire businessman Doug Richard admitted to having violent sex with a 13-year-old girl he met on there, walking free because she had claimed to be 17. Ah, the old “I’m not a criminal, I’m just a fucking gross piece of shit” defense.
Sugar daddies: not all that sweet.
Lie #5: “Peppa Treats Daddy Pig Like Shit!”
Considering the rest of Daddy Pig’s household are also pigs, and nobody is what you might deem svelte, they really bring his weight up a lot, which is pretty unkind. The fat-shaming aimed at Daddy Pig is one of the most common points of contention with the show, along with weird complaints like, “My kid watched Peppa Pig and now speaks with a British accent.”
However, Daddy Pig is no angel. Not according to the hardcore Peppaheads who write fan fiction, anyway. He’s by far the most popular character in the deeply strange world of Peppa Pig fan lore.
If you devour the “fanon,” Daddy Pig is a monster. He has psychotic episodes he can only recover from by eating a goldfish. He’s thrown his two children down stairs and through windows, as well as possibly murdering a secret third child. He enjoys the taste of bacon — cannibalism, given his status as a pig — and once kicked the shit out of Emily Elephant just out of boredom.
In conclusion: the hell with Daddy Pig!