A look at how your roots drive your sexual attraction
Whether it’s rebelling against parents by dating “dangerous” guys or an inappropriate reference to “daddy” in a sexual situation, the media have taken the “daddy issue” and turned it into a social norm of both comedic and fallacious commentaries by women. The joke is propelled by popular characters, like when Barney from How I Met Your Mother refers to women with daddy issues as “bimbos” or when Phoebe from Friends makes Ross uncomfortable when she calls him “daddy” in a sexual manner. It becomes increasingly clear that both fathers and daughters are at the root of the problem. But where did all of this originate?
Sigmund Freud had many controversial theories that generally make the public very uncomfortable; however, this out-of-the-box psychologist’s ideas have withstood the test of time.
One of the most dubious assertions is the Electra Complex, proposed by Carl Jung, who derived the idea from Neo-Freudian psychology. The complex is characterized as a young girl’s psychosexual rivalry with her mother for her father’s affections. The daughter competes for her father’s affection with her mother, which Jung says is a completely normal and non-incestual inclination with sexual undertones. The complex is generally exterminated through natural development, but if five necessary stages are not resolved, the theory indicates that the girl may remain in “father-fixation”—in other words, she may develop “daddy issues,” the term the media have come to adopt.
Throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, many television programs featured mothers who had died, leaving their children to be raised by the fathers. This generated much research on the role of the father and what his relationship to his children should be. Though the research has died out in the past decade or two, it continues to be a topic of intrigue.
Cyndy Scheibe, professor of psychology and media literacy at Ithaca College, explained that we are dependent on the media for social cues.
“We learn social scripts from what we see in the media, and television is the most dominant form of media,” she said.
Children ages eight to 10 watch an average of four and a half hours of television per day, so it’s no wonder that these adolescents are very influenced by the content of the programs. A big question to ask is: What sense do we get about the parent-child interaction? In many programs, such as 8 Simple Rules or The Nanny, the father is overprotective of his daughters and looser with his sons. Is this the way dad is naturally supposed to act? Or have the cultural and societal influences from the media strongly affected the role of the father?
Jung’s theory holds strong not only throughout popular media, but in the arts as well. Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” is an angry and heartfelt poem about the sheer emotional abandonment of her father after his death when she was still quite young. Due to her unresolved Electra Complex, Sylvia blames her father for his wrongdoings and draws multiple parallels between him and her ex-husband.
Though this theory has shaken the core of citizens around the world, it does not seem to be completely disproved. It recurs again and again in aspects of human interest.
In no way is this a new phenomenon. In most Disney movies, the mother is absent, usually dead, and the father is clueless or domineering. What kind of lessons does this teach children about the “normal” family dynamic? In 1974, former FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson said, “All television is educational. The question is what does it teach.” Keeping this insightful thought process in mind, one can clearly pull similarities between the psychological and social perspective. Though more recently a cultural phenomenon, the “daddy issue” has a very real innate existence in the human makeup.
JJ Weintraub is a sophomore psychology major who likes it when you call her Big Papa. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.