The Daddies is a love letter to masculinity, a kaleidoscope of its pleasures and horrors. The question “Who’s your Daddy?” started showing up in mainstream cultural references during the 1990s. Those words can be spoken as a question, or a challenge, as a flirtation, a joke, or a threat. It’s all about inflection, intention, and who’s asking. Apparently, we have so much shared cultural meaning about “Daddy” the speakers and listeners can simply intuit meaning and proceed to laugh at the joke, or experience the shame, as appropriate. But who is Daddy in American culture? The Daddies aims to find out more than who – but how the process of knowing Daddy can prompt readers to know themselves and their society. This allegory about patriarchy unfolds as a kinky lesbian Daddy/girl love story. Daddy-ness is situated in all people, after all, and we each share responsibility for creating a fairer world.
The Daddies can be used as a springboard for discussion in courses in sociology, gender and women's studies, cultural studies, sexuality studies and communication. As a work of fiction,
The Daddies can also be enjoyed by general audiences.
Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor and raconteur working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life so that we all discover our influences and reclaim our power as social creators. She’s performed stories and poetry at hundreds of venues worldwide and her essays appear in a wide range of scholarly and popular publications. She’s the author of
Love and Errors (Puna Press, 2018) and co-editor of
Ways of Being in Teaching (Sense, 2017). She teaches in Sociology at Cal State, San Marcos and in the Cal State Summer Arts Program.
"No one anywhere writes all the way through eros, power exchange, and sexuality more fiercely than Kimberly Dark. In The Daddies, Kimberly risks what most writers will not, opening up and asking how masculinity has woven through every realm of our existence, how it has seduced us, betrayed us, protected us, violated us, how it lives in men and women and every other gender and sexuality, how we are facing a reckoning. Kimberly Dark asks us to embrace and reimagine masculinity from the inside out and hold the embrace long enough to change the world."
– Lidia Yuknavitch, author of
Small Backs of Children and
Chronology of Water
"To say that The Daddies is an intensely textured, kaleidoscopic take on masculinity, Daddy-dom, and the pleasures, perils, and politics of femininity is only partly true. More accurately it is a hypersaturated, unrelenting Willy Wonka boat ride through a pulsating circulatory system of patriarchy, pain, and desire. Kimberly Dark has done something brave and difficult here, and I do not refer merely to the text."
– Hanne Blank, author of
Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality
"Dark’s work is a multi-layered hybrid of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, autoethnography, biomythography, and collage, which explores the concepts of “Daddy” through social critique of news and pop culture. This is the very best of Dark – storytelling that highlights gendered interactions and what they tell us about erotic love and masculinity. This book caresses important things in social science that need focus and attention – sexual abuse, gendered expectations, and figuring out identity and desire in a patriarchal world. Dark’s panache for nuanced cultural analysis and story-telling makes this book the kind of medicine you can’t wait to take; you will want to buy a copy for all the people in your life."
– Sandra L. Faulkner, Director Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Bowling Green State University, author of
Writing the Personal and
Knit Four, Frog One
"About time someone wrote this book! And what good news that a writer and researcher as skilled as Kimberly Dark has taken it on."
– Laurel Richardson, author of
Why I Love Ernest
“Feminist in its worldmaking, intellectual in its erotic poetry, and razor sharp in its depictions of contemporary American gender ideology, Kimberly Dark’s The Daddies is a complex and genre-bending contribution to the archive of queer feeling and to theorizing through storytelling. In this autoethnography of Daddy’s worlds, the girls who inhabit and work in them are allowed to examine pleasures and pains of power and contradiction. Taking a range of positions, Dark’s writing dares to interrogate the psychic structures and deep ambivalences of a queer desire and kinship form in ways that move us beyond simplistic ideas of perversion and subversion. The Daddies is a welcome addition to fem(me)inist sexual theory and a portrait of contemporary patriarchy by and for daddy’s girls, by an author who has lived and survived and dared to tell. Plus we learn more about what is at the root of #metoo and its perpetual reproductions from this book than many other contemporary sources.”
– Ulrika Dahl, Professor of Gender Studies at Uppsala University, co-author of
Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities
“Daddy is a person with the kind of power that asks to be misused. This is an honest, disturbing, difficult confrontation with the uncontainable. A labor of truth-telling."
– Sarah Schulman, author of
The Cosmopolitans and Conflict is Not Abuse
“In this intricate and robust account, Kimberly Dark explores the world of Daddies who repel and compel us. Dark reveals in story after story a masculine culture that garners consent and insists on resistance. For readers who think this is not their world, they may be surprised to find themselves. For readers who already live there, they will see themselves rendered with sensitivity, intelligence, and compassion. For all readers, they will feel they are in the trusted hands of a careful scholar and skilled writer. Pleasure waits for those who will allow Kimberly Dark to take charge from page one to the very last word.”
– Ronald J. Pelias, University of Louisiana
"The Daddies is an unforgettable book. Beautifully written, brutally honest, poignant – essential reading for anyone interested in the complexity of gender identity, relationships and sexuality, the forever affect of incest between daddy and daughter, as well as the importance of sharing our stories as part of the journey toward transformation and healing.”
– Mary E. Weems, author of
Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues
“What a deep and moving work, with plenty of meat for the erotic imagination *and* our inner culture spelunker. Kimberly Dark's strong, nimble writing dances complexly – but so, so readably – through the mythic, the erotic, the sociopolitical, the pop-cultural. It invites us to take an insight-provoking journey through many kinds of gender, many kinds of sex, many kinds of love. Thank you, Kimberly, for refusing to whittle all this down to make it seem simple.”
– Carol Queen, PhD, author of
The Leather Daddy & the Femme and Real Live Nude Girl
Table of contents
Preface Acknowledgments Introduction: The Daddies
Part 1: Origins
Chapter 1: Shooting and Spanking and Who’s Your Daddy? Shooting Lessons
The Etymology of Colloquy
Chapter 2: The First Time
Chapter 3: The President and the Metaphors Presidential Daddy
Getting What I Want
Reviewing the Literature
Chapter 4: Looking for Safety at Daddy’s House What It Means to Know Everything
Mon Coeur est a Papa
Chapter 5: Coming into My Room at Night
Chapter 6: Daddies, Daughters and Strippers Daddies, Daughters and Strippers
When Sex Is Absent
Part 2: Actions
Chapter 7: The First Time II
Chapter 8: University Daddy
Chapter 9: Daddy God Daddy God
Out of the Woods
Chapter 10: Daddy’s Territory Two Points on a Map
Chapter 11: The Purity Ball Ignoring the News
Daddy vs. Girl Purity Showdown
Chapter 12: Confusion Hurts Funny Business in the Broadmoor
Chapter 13: Abroad with Daddy Daddy Gets a Passport
Daddy on Holiday
Chapter 14: Playboy, Panties, Papi Daddy Likes Playboy Magazine
Daddy in the News
Chapter 23: Do We Know Ourselves in Each Other’s Eyes? Too Young
Chapter 24: Knowledge Is King The Most Powerful Position Possible
Chapter 25: Don’t Make Me Leave You Text Free Lover
Chapter 26: Possibility Incantation
Part 3: Transformation
Chapter 27: The Turning The Collapse of the Big Buildings
A Note to My Previous Daddy
Chapter 28: Daddy’s Vessel
Chapter 29: The End Daddy’s Goodbye
Chapter 30: The Storyteller Storyteller Me
One of the Oddities in the Curiosity Cabinet of Kimberly’s Psyche
Chapter 31: My Father’s Time Realizing
In the Reckoning
Chapter 32: Pleasure Pleasing Daddy
Chapter 33: Choosing to Change Why Should Daddy Change?
Chapter 34: Start with Salt
Discussion Guide References About the Author
The Daddies can be used as a springboard for discussion in courses in sociology, gender and women’s studies, cultural studies, sexuality studies and communication. As a work of fiction, The Daddies can also be enjoyed by general audiences.