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Dude, She's Got Daddy Issues


What Are Daddy Issues?

Urban Dictionary defines “daddy issues” as “When a girl has a messed up relationship with her dad. Usually the fathers fault. Either he left or is acting like a total bitch… as a result the girl might be attracted to older men, or men with anger issues if her father was an angry man, and sometimes will stay in an abusive relationship because it would just feel like home.”

It is a generally accepted truth that growing up we develop our idea of how relationships work by watching our parents; people who lack examples of healthy relationships often struggle to consolidate their own in adulthood. Therefore, when a child has a poor relationship with their father, it can cause them to distrust men when they are adults, especially in romantic and sexual relationships. Put simply, how we are treated by our parents, shapes how we allow our partners to treat us. Our parents are our first and most important relationships in our lives when we are children, so it is obvious that they have a lasting impact on how we relate to other people.

This idea originates from the Freudian father complex which originally focused on the relationship between father and son. This makes it bizarre that “daddy issues” has become gendered towards women. Freud saw the father complex as existing in the form of ambivalent feelings from boys towards their fathers, while Carl Jung actually argued that both girls and boys could have a father complex. With the idea of the family patriarch being gradually eroded, psychoanalysis began to focus on the impact of absentee fathers and often suggested that we all have a deep longing for a father figure to lead us. Jung argued that when girls had negative feelings towards their fathers, they would then grow up and project their issues onto all the men in their lives.

The Misogyny Behind “Daddy Issues”

Calling a woman’s problems “daddy issues'' immediately trivialises her experiences, and tells her there is something wrong with her for being impacted by them. To simplify the traumatic things that a woman has lived through as being “daddy issues'' removes any accountability from the men in her life that have caused said issues and is a way to belittle and demean a woman based on her lived experiences. Furthermore, “daddy issues” is the label we give to women when they are impacted, not only do we shame them for their past but we also blame them for their reaction often to men now, and create the idea that it's melodrama. As soon as you can classify a woman as dramatic and emotionally unstable, you can dismiss any harm you do to her. When women react poorly to the things their significant others do, “daddy issues” is a term that is often brought out. In this way, it is really a form of gaslighting, designed to make women feel like the crazy one in their relationships.

“Daddy issues” has become a term to describe anything women do in relation to sex and relationships. If a woman is very sexually active and doesn't maintain relationships, she must have “daddy issues” and be deeply insecure. If a woman is in a relationship and anxious about it, she must have “daddy issues” because she is so needy. This is specifically weaponised to slut shame women, and suggests that there is something inherently wrong with female sexuality. Daddy issues is honestly a catcall term which can be used to criticise women for anything.

Saying a woman has “daddy issues” stigmatises issues like abuse and manipulation and discourages women from speaking out about these things for fear of being labelled a stereotypical case of a woman with “daddy issues.” “Daddy issues” is a term used to degrade women, dismiss their experiences and ultimately label them as damaged goods.

Is There a Male Equivalent?

“Mummy issues” is the counterpart to “daddy issues'' but if you thought it would be essentially the same thing but with mothers, you would be wrong. Both issues are about estranged parents and their children and the ramifications in adulthood. “Mummy issues'' are normally when men have mothers who instead of being absentee parents, are overly involved in their life and prevent you from gaining independence. Men with “mummy issues” are generally percieved as easily dominated by women, e.g. their mothers and romantic partners, and also as being generally incompetent and unable to cook or clean for themselves. “Mummy issues'' can also manifest when men feel as though they have disappointed their mothers and it destroys their self-esteem which relies on maternal approval.

Women can also have “mummy issues” in the way men experience “daddy issues” but this mostly pertains to another Freudian idea (think Oedipus complex) which suggests that it is solely men who have this problem. One fun pop culture example of a man with extreme mummy issues is Norman Bates from Psycho, a serial killer who dresses up like his dead mother’s corpse which he of course keeps in his spooky house and talks to. Although “mummy issues” is a less common term, it is a label which is just as deeply harmful as daddy issues. It also emasculates men for experiencing trauma and other issues, once again implying that there is something wrong with experiencing and being affected by these things.

There are other branches from these ideas such as the “Electra Complex,” which is when girls hate their mothers and view themselves as being in competition with them for their fathers. And the Oedipus Complex where men are subconsciously attracted to their mothers. The thing with psychoanalysis is that it can often be classified as pseudoscience due to the fact that you cannot empirically prove these weird ideas.

Obviously both mummy and daddy issues are very problematic things. I cannot emphasise enough how weird it is to use the same term to describe a woman who experiences serious psychological trauma and abuse and also to describe a woman who is mildly kinky and calls her boyfriend “daddy.” It is clearly wrong to assume that if a woman has any issues they stem from her father and if a man has any issues they stem from his mother. Also it’s important to note that neither “daddy issues” or “mummy issues” are legitimate psychological terms or diagnosis, rather they are just stereotypes which are deeply harmful and sexist.

In case you can’t tell, I really hate the whole “daddy issues” concept and everything which comes wrapped up with it. There are so many problems with this idea that it's like a gross game of pass the parcel, where each layer is just more shit. No tea, no shade to Freud, but he truly needed some psychological analysis himself.

People should be the subject of your compassion rather than ridicule.


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