By: Kellen Kaiser
I don’t date older men. And if I’m being honest, it is at least partially because I was raised by lesbians.
Lord forbid I have “Daddy Issues.”
This term, often applied to strippers and ladies involved in May/December romances, shadows me. I have myself internalized the judgments shot towards dinner tables where a silver fox sits across a girl still wrapped in the spring of youth. I have joined the chorus that says, she must be looking to get what she missed out on at home.
For me, as someone who spent large swaths of her childhood defending the idea that good parenting didn’t necessitate a male role model in the home, it is unthinkable to set myself up for that judgment but also ageist hypocrisy to buy the hype that “Daddy Issues” is selling. Still, my dating record shouts, Nope. No daddy issues here, thanks.
I have never called someone “Daddy” in bed, and recently I’ve started questioning why that is verboten to me, even with men I know I’ll never see again. (One-night stands in other countries, I’m looking at you.) What am I afraid of exactly? That they will call the conservatives and tell on me? Why am I giving the phrase so much power?
It’s not as though I am repressing some unfulfilled desire. I am okay with sticking to young, nubile hunks but it’s weird to figure out that your sexuality is being run by fear/politics/others’ opinions. Even if I already knew on some level that it inevitably is, that culture is what molds our desire regardless. There is no escaping that. But as someone who consciously eschews the influence of such things, who has embraced a more alternative and free approach to sex than most, I’d like to think I know better.
That’s the problem with serving as a representative for a whole group of people, for example me being a proxy for all kids of gay parents, otherwise known as the dilemma of minority. You end up creating your identity in reaction, in order to fill in the negative space of others’ projections of you. Oh, the Christian Right says we’ll all turn out this way. Let me prove them wrong. Only this is a self molded by one’s adversaries. Although aren’t we always, in the end? So much of character is pushback.
My own relationship to that all important male figure, Father, or in my case the man who happened to bed my mother for one night in Paris, has been intermittent. Since it turned out he lived in Berkeley, he has been in and out of contact since my infancy. I am not the only one in my social circle for whom this was the case, but I am certainly the most defensive about it not being a big deal. Many a time have I told a reporter that with four moms, another parent would be less than appealing. This isn’t a confession otherwise. I have been plenty parented, so to speak. I have had male friends and teachers. I am involved enough in the gay community to get a healthy and regular dose of male perspective, even from men approximtely Dad’s age. I’ve done alright for myself romantically. It’s not that there haven’t been moments in life where I’ve exclaimed that I just don’t get men and fear I never will, but I am hardly alone in this feeling of divide between genders. Plenty of ladies who had dads at home are similarly befuddled without the excuse. And, really, should the presence of an individual and one’s experience of them be used as a model for the sex as whole? Is it fair to say having a dad around better prepares you for the other couple billion men on the planet? I mean isn’t that where so many so called “daddy issues” begin, when women go looking for a replacement?
People talk about women searching for and marrying men who are like their fathers. I know in my case it is less likely since I know comparatively little about my father’s character. It would be hard for me to go searching for someone I barely know. My exes have instead shared traits in common with my various mothers.
Maybe I have “Mommy Issues” instead.