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    A Lesbian Leather Daddy Love Story

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: Kimberly Dark, author of The Daddies, is featured in this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times. I asked Dark to discuss the phrase, “Who’s your Daddy?” which started showing up in mainstream cultural references during the 1990s. Those words can be spoken as a question, a challenge, a flirtation, a joke or even a threat. It’s all about inflection, intention and who is asking. Apparently, we have so much shared cultural meaning about “Daddy” that 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? Here, Dark explains what inspired her to write The Daddies.

    Kimberly Dark: The first time I found myself smitten with a Daddy was back in the 90s. I spoke with my friend, a significant mentor, and not just another sociologist. “Why is this Daddy-thing hot? I mean, it’s fascinating and I’m in it to figure it out, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t totally hot.”

    “It doesn’t make sense, though.” I continued musing. “The stuff we play out is not even fresh. The scripts are recycled: highly gendered power games based on ownership, upholding patriarchal themes about strength and frailty, purity and goodness. Daddy is a hack. And it’s totally hot, nonetheless.”

    She listened, but I could tell that she didn’t know what to do with this. We were both dykes, for one thing. (Sometimes I forget that’s salient, because it both is and it isn’t.)  She was normally interested in my social curiosities, but what could she do with this?

    “Well, you can’t be a sociologist all the time,” she said.

    Whether or not we can unsee the ways in which power relationships and patterned interactions scaffold the social world, there are definitely themes that are unwelcome for discussion in academic, and other polite, company.

    Intellectual and creative freedom being higher on my list of life goals than employment and acceptability, I started inquiring and cataloging. “Who’s your Daddy?” Who’s my Daddy and what do we all mean when we utter that phrase that had gained cultural cache in the 90s, though it’s been around a long time? (Spoiler: we mean a whole lot of things, depending on who’s talking and who’s listening.)

    The thing is, I had met Daddy before—I just didn’t remember at first. I’d been taught, like everyone in my culture, to salivate on cue, to recoil on cue, to vote on cue, to love on cue. And socially, we’ve made a pact to ignore our Pavlovian responses to patriarchy. Feminism taught us we should only have negative responses to patriarchy when the truth is, we have a range of responses embedded in our desires and behaviors.

    Some of those responses are ecstatic and operate like need or hunger, even when consciously, we want to dismantle systems that harm us all; turn our children into soldiers for causes that are destroying the planet; and render the wisdom of our bodies mute—or at least indecipherable.

    In order to dismantle patriarchy, and still nurture the vital human force of masculinity, we have to understand our draw and repulsion to Daddy—the nurturer, the dominator, the destroyer, the lover. I study all aspects, and that involves gender, sexuality, how power exists and is recreated in intimate interactions and then patterned back out into social structures. That includes Daddy.

    The Daddies is a lesbian leather daddy love story. It’s also an indictment of patriarchy, a call to self-love and cultural transformation. When we have greater understanding, we have greater choices.

    Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor and raconteur, working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life one clever essay, poem and story at a time. She is the author of Love and Errors, a poetry book. More information can be found on 

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQI community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates thirty years of successful book campaigns.