More and more girls call their partners “daddy” during sex, according to Reddit, Tumblr, and an article from Broadly. Apparently it’s not that creepy anymore, and sex therapist Vanessa Marin says that, rather than it being a massive neon warning sign of daddy issues or an ominous fetish, it’s used “to indicate someone, in charge, a protector, or doing a good job. That’s usually the meaning women are going for in the bedroom. It’s a bit of a 70s porn cliche. I’ve never run across a woman who called her partner ‘daddy’ because she genuinely liked fantasizing that he was her father.”
Sex therapist Margaret Squires agreed that it wasn’t necessarily dark or pedophilic as a term of endearment: “I think that when that language comes up, it’s just as likely to be in a healthy relationship. You’re getting back to very early warm attachments. That’s why we have relationships, so we can rely on each other. It’s not necessary for everyone to be equally strong in all things.”
It’s fairly obvious that the “daddy” trope is huge online. You only have to look at the memes people make about it, the online stores making money off pink crop tops with the word emblazoned on the front in Barbie-like font, the star bloggers like Yungelita, who attracts audiences of hundreds of thousands who buy into her Lolita-esque aesthetic. In all-female spaces like American sororities, girls refer to their boyfriends as frat-daddies. It exists fairly inoffensively in music too. I’ve never seen anyone stop lip-syncing to Feelin’ Myself at that bit where Nicki says: “Yes daddy I do, give me brain like NYU”, just because they’re weirded out by it.
But if it’s apparently a normal, widespread thing, it seems weird that so many girls in “real life” are squicked out by the idea. When I brought it up to a friend, she laughed and told me her ex “used to make her call him it in bed”. She went on: “I used to call him daddy as a joke to embarrass him, turns out it really turned him on. I think it’s like a power thing – to me, the daddy vibe is when they want to, like, dominate the girl, have the chance to tell her off and stuff.
“I feel sorry for his current girlfriend.”
Others were just as suspicious that it was a spontaneous nickname invented by girls. Another friend said: “I think way more guys ask to be called by the name than they let on. It sets it up as women are calling their partners daddy all the time and guys can get freaked, meanwhile ignoring that like 75 per cent of guys would ask for/be down for this. I honestly think nine times out of 10 women are only calling their partner daddy because he asked for it or they discussed it and they were both into it. If you have to look at women’s reasons for wanting to call them daddy, you have to look on the other side of things too and ask why men want to be called it.” Mared Parry, a first year at Cardiff, told me: “I’m not a fan personally – but I think it’s pretty much the same as being called ‘baby’ or ‘babe’. I hate being called ‘baby’, so it’s the same when I think it’s weird as fuck for guys to ask me to call them daddy (it’s happened).”
Eventually though, some daddy-fans did talk to me, just when I was beginning to think it was a kink invented online, or a collective secret everyone had agreed not to talk about. “I personally love it”, said Gigi, a student from the University of Maryland. “But it’s at the point where I get weirded out by a girl calling her actual dad ‘daddy’ because I think of it so sexually, or in such a sugar-daddy way. I love being called ‘baby’ or ‘babe’ too, so it’s more of a fetish than anything. It’s definitely ‘odd’ that I like it, but it’s not a big deal.
“I’m into kinkier things.”