Women ☕ — the misogynists' Hail Mary attack has graced the comment section of almost every woman that ever posted online irrespective of her content. An odd counterpart of the 'divide and rule' strategy, men have been using the 'generalize and shame' trick to discredit and undermine women since before we had electricity. But the internet united them, creating a platoon of ignorant man-babys that think misogyny is cool and 'feminist' is an insult. A new soldier in this twisted army is the infamous 'fatherless behaviour' which I'm having a hard time taking offense at. How did the absence and the emotional unavailability of the father become an indictment on young girls and women?
In the beginning I noticed the 'fatherless behaviour' comments under thirst traps, Only Fans promos and fit check videos where women wore revealing outfits; you know, where women "weren't respecting their bodies". Now you may find them on makeup tutorials, craft videos, gaming streams, DJs and even goth-girl and cosplay videos — basically, anything a woman does that is remotely non-conformist. The disparity between the camaraderie of Batman and Ryan Gosling fanatics chanting "literally me" and the contempt for women who share the same love for comics has me flabbergasted.
All I see them saying is "You're coming off way too strong embracing your sexuality and nurturing your interests right now so obviously you don't have a father. Women aren't free, sexual beings with desires and dreams, so all this self-expression is merely a symptom of the absence of an authoritative masculine hold that didn't put you in your place." Is that all that fatherhood is when it comes to daughters? Control? A tight leash choking us into becoming obedient, submissive, conformist cogs in the machine that is patriarchy? Are girls feral monsters without the correcting potion of fatherhood?
My dad passed away two years ago and I too am "fatherless" right now. By this logic, should I be out there living deliciously, dancing naked in the woods with the devil? I don't know. Instructions are unclear.
'Fatherless behaviour' is just another version of 'daddy issues' which is used to shame and minimize women's attachment needs. Every behaviour that 'daddy issues' refers to is just an unhealthy attachment style that develops when a child's caregiver isn't responsive to their needs and is emotionally unavailable; which hey, If you're Indian, count yourself in. And this is irrespective of the gender of both the parents and the children. In fact, 'daddy issues' comes from Freud's 'father complex' which was mentioned in his 1910 paper The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy where he noticed instances of fear, defiance, and disbelief of the father forming the most important resistances to his treatment in his male patients.
So how did a theory that was originally about boys and their fathers become a gendered insult to women? Through years of misinformation and misogyny is my guess.
You never hear motherless behaviour in the lexicon. Is motherhood not as important as its counterpart? And why is the sexual expression of women in particular linked to fatherhood? What kind of sick, cis-hetero undercurrent lies beneath it? Does this imply then that men hold the monopoly on a woman's sexuality? And is that why men are so butthurt about OnlyFans? Because women took this system of the female form for pleasure created by men, subverted it and started profiting off of it?
The whole school of thought, if there is any, behind 'fatherless behaviour' looks at the role of a father with the myopic lens of toxic masculinity that only aims to control and overpower instead of the wholesome responsibility that it is. Perhaps these women with "questionable" behaviours are so free and defiant in their expression because their fathers created safe spaces for them to be who they wanted to be; the kind of fathers that fully showed up with the nurturing femininity that a daughter demands, fathers that let their daughters paint their nails, colour their faces with makeup and adorn their beards with flowers.
Soft masculinity isn't a failure, for most, it's the goal. Unsuspecting victims of patriarchy themselves, most men are forced to uphold the facade of machismo even in their roles as fathers, especially in Brown households. And they are applauded for this by all the other victims for their sacrifice, even called 'pillars of strength' as their mental and emotional health decline. They aren't even allowed to be affectionate towards their life partners, lest they become the odd one out in the herd that makes fun of their wives and their marriages with their evening chai. The only time an Indian man is fully allowed to be soft is towards his daughter. What shall we call this hollow, brutish and dry pre-fatherhood existence starved of emotional nourishment then? Daughterless behaviour?
By the time our 'sigma' brethren realize this, it'll possibly be too late but in the arc of the story that intersects manhood and fatherhood, love will always conquer power. In this arc, Narayan Shankar from Mohabbatein with his "Parampara, Pratishtha, Anushasan" is merely the conflict and is already on the road to the resolution that is Chaudhary Baldev Singh's "Ja Simran Ja, Jee le apni Zindagi" from DDLJ, whether he knows it or not.
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