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How Did “Daddy” Become So Sexual?

A look into how one of America’s most popular paternal endearments migrated into the bedroom. 

Some people like to kiss during sex. Others are into some light hair pulling, and there are those who prefer spanking. And yeah, some like to call someone —  or be called —“Daddy.”

Now, it’s unclear just when the daddy found its way into the sexual lexicon, but some suspect it’s been in use for a lot longer than one might assume. “It’s definitely not a new thing,” says Dulcinea Pitagora, a sex therapist and co-founder of the AltSexNYC Conference. “I would say it’s been going on for multiple decades, as long as the word ‘Daddy’ has been used in language.”

Some say it goes even further back than that. According to one report, slang use of the word “daddy” dates back to 1681, when prostitutes began adopting the term as a way to refer to their pimps. Of course, pop culture has helped keep things alive since then. Television comedies have found ways to inject the concept into plotlines. Fashion designers have even found a way to incorporate “daddy” into new styles. Twitter aids tweens in hurling the term towards celebrity crushes. Even Beyoncé’s Lemonade tossed a nod of recognition for all things “Daddy.”

Still, there is a big difference between passing use of the term and more orchestrated attempts to sexualize it. Most of the time, if one’s making an effort to bring it into the bedroom, they’re doing it in the interest of a creating a very specific dynamic between the sheets.

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“The word ‘Daddy’ typically denotes a dominant power role orientation,” explains Pitagora. Because of its association with power and control, the whole “Daddy” thing tends to pop up pretty often in the BDSM scene. Those who really get into it might just find themselves members of organized communities like “Daddy Dom little girl (DDLG), or, for those who want to take things a step further, Adult Baby Diaper Lover (ADBL).

It’s not just men perpetuating this dynamic, either. According to PornHub’s analytic team, women are actually 96 percent more likely to search for “Dad” and “Daddy” compared to men (Fun fact: searches for the term tend to spike around Father’s Day. Go figure).

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The “Daddy” trend, of course, extends well beyond the heterosexual community. According to their 2018 Year In Review report, searches for the term “Daddy” experienced significant growth on the PornHub Gay page. While it didn’t reach “most searched” status, “Daddy” did make it into in the top five. According to the statisticians, visitors viewing Pornhub Gay search for “Dad” and “Daddy” 277 percent more often than people viewing straight-oriented porn.

“In gay culture, [Daddy] is typically used to refer to someone who identifies as dominant and masculine, and who is sometimes older than their partner(s), though not necessarily,” says Pitagora.

Though, Pitagora notes, the increased acceptance of queer identities has helped encouraged application of the term to other unconventional bodies.

“More recently, now that society is gaining heightened awareness around gender diversity, there are people who are female-bodied and present more feminine than masculine who identify ‘Daddy’ or ‘Femme Daddy,’” she explains. “Again, they typically identify as dominant, they may or may not be older, and their partner(s) can be adults of any gender.”

So how does one get to this point in the first place? How does the “Daddy” affinity take root?

Different folks will give you different answers. Some cling to the idea that most “Daddy” adorers are harboring some sort of “Daddy issues” and the “kink” allows the individual to work through any unresolved feelings within the borders of a safe, sexual playground. Others assert that the sexual interest has nothing to do with underlying issues involving actual “Daddies” and is just a way of sexual exploration. Of course, there may very well be some sort of middle ground to stand on here. But really, does it even matter? So long as things are practiced among happy and consenting adults, is there any need to overthink it?

Besides, the whole “Daddy” thing isn’t even the most hardcore kind of kink out there. Not by a long shot.

“This play is so common in modern relationships that it’s often not even thought of as play,” says Pitagora. “Female partners of males have been using the term “daddy” to refer to their (often older) male partners for as long as the word has existed, and males have been using “baby” to refer to their partners for as long as that word has existed,” she adds.

So, when it comes to the weird world of sexual quirks, “Daddy” still seems to lag behind other kinds of kinks, such as getting spanked, or worshipping feet. At least according to the experts. So if someone’s heart really does belong to Daddy, if the word really does get them all giddy inside, then they should go ahead and play it out. They might just learn a little something about themselves in the process.