Daddies, Boys, and Topping
Dear Patrick: I am writing to ask if you have any theories about why incest fantasies are so common. As a top, I find that more and more often, other guys call me “Daddy” without even bothering to ask if that’s okay. I don’t think they would refer to me as “Master” without getting permission because it implies that a relationship exists! But doesn’t the term “Daddy” also imply the same thing?
As a top, I have a lot of shame about the fact that I get triggered by the incest fantasies of some of my “boys” (adult men who enjoy pretending to be younger when we have sex). There are times when I think we are just enacting harmless fantasies about sexual initiation, or we are skirting the forbidden zone and getting some cheap thrills by verbalizing forbidden thoughts and images.
But there are other times when I know I am playing with someone who has been sexually abused, and I feel like I am re-enacting things that a perpetrator did to him. This creeps me out royally. I once had to stop a scene when the bottom got very far away from reality and tried to injure himself with something he grabbed off my nightstand.
Even if the bottom has no abuse history, I can get very weary of an incest fantasy if it seems that it is the only thing that a particular man, no matter how hot, enjoys. I guess we all have our central fantasies, that dirty story that will get us off when all else is flaccid. (I will tell you about my sailors and pirates in another letter.) It’s not just that I get tired of saying the same words or using the same toys. It’s that I get tired of the accumulated ick factor of being the dirty old man who puts his creepy hands on little kids. The fact that I can do this successfully and make it hot makes me kind of sick with myself. I get off, and then I feel like I need a shower.
I want to make everybody happy, but it seems like I am failing at my self-imposed goal to be a flexible, accepting top with a wide variety of skills, able to provide just about any type of scene with just a little advance notice. The more ambivalent I become about age play, the more I seem to attract handsome men who want to be put over my knee and spanked by an adult who intends to ruin the poor kid’s self-esteem and anal integrity. Can you provide some guidance?
Dear Too Much Shadow: Yes, the term “Daddy” implies a relationship, just like the term “Master.” I personally think it is every bit as inappropriate to use one title as it is to use the other. We can cut other guys a bit of slack for flirting, of course, but in general I think it’s better to avoid titles unless you have permission to sing them out. Worse—I once witnessed a really terrible scene in which the top repeatedly told the bottom he did not like being called Daddy, only to have the oblivious bottom repeatedly use that title. This guy and I made eye contact and shrugged at each other. What can you do if people are that obsessed with their own fantasies, to the exclusion of feedback from the top?
Tops as well as bottoms have a right to set limits on play. Limits in BDSM sex don’t just have to do with protecting the participants’ physical health or safety. They also have to do with emotional or mental well-being. Given how common child abuse is, there are many, many tops who for personal reasons don’t want to go anywhere near a fantasy like incest or age play. This doesn’t make you any less masculine or dominant.
As a top who is monitoring the status of the person you are playing with, you for damn sure have the right to call halt to a scene when it seems to you that the other person has “left the room,” so to speak, and is no longer functioning as their adult self. If I had ever witnessed a bottom attempting an act of self-harm, I would be a great deal more cautious about this, as well.
I wonder if you might need to revise your goal for yourself as a top. It seems to me like another way to put it might be that you expect yourself to be all things to all men. If somebody wants a specific fantasy, you seem to feel that you should be able to do a good job of performing in that role. But that isn’t necessarily true. As I said earlier in this answer, a good top is aware of his limits, and draws the line. The fact that you CAN do something doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. It doesn’t really matter why the guys who like age play or incest fantasies seem to be drawn to you. I can only reassure you that it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. If, however, you find that you can’t say no when you want to, consider getting a tune-up with a little counseling. There’s no harm in beefing up your assertiveness factor.
Why, you ask, are these fantasies so common? I can’t give you any definitive answer. I just have my own theories or conjectures. In a weird, paradoxical way, I think it may be because good parenting is so rare. There are a lot of people out there with deficits in the love they got from their adult caretakers. There are so many people who grew up being neglected or abused that they come to adulthood looking for experiences that will fill up the empty place where they don’t feel good enough or feel it was somehow their fault that a parent was not warm and affirming toward them. There are way too many people having children who don’t actually want to be parents, they just want to do what everybody else is doing. We’ve got overpopulation without any real consideration for the enormous amount of energy it takes to raise a happy, healthy child.
But I think I should also point out that there are a lot of inherently nice things about getting to pretend to be a little kid for a few hours. You get to abandon responsibility, stop thinking about all the stressful adult problems in your life, and pretend to be somebody who can’t be blamed for whatever has gone wrong in your life. And yet, because it’s a fantasy, you can take your adult needs into the experience and feel adult pleasure from another adult whose interest in you is largely benevolent. So you get to have the fun and eroticism of being provided for, loved, seduced, and attended without any of the actual frustration, sadness, or difficulty of childhood.
Daddy/boy play may have nothing to do with incest fantasies. It can simply be a form of affiliation between an older and a younger adult, or those who like to play with those roles. (I’ve met twenty-something daddies who have boys with snow on the roof.) That affiliation can be a very strong bond, a sort of loyalty that is every bit as strong as a blood-bond found in a family. The boy is expressing loyalty and love for his Daddy, while the Daddy takes responsibility for providing guidance and a sort of sponsorship into the leather community for his boy. It always pays to find out more about what people are doing with their sexuality rather than just assuming what it means, even if it seems obvious.
Of course, if somebody isn’t bent that way, the whole idea of any sort of age play just seems weird and messed up. But anybody else’s sexuality is usually going to read like a weird trip, chasing after Alice and falling down the rabbit hole. I just want to encourage you, Dear Reader, to keep doing the things that you enjoy in BDSM sex, and avoid the things that creep you out. It sounds like you have enough going on with those sailors and pirates to keep hundreds of men going happily in and out of your dungeon. Leave the Daddy/boy play to those who enjoy it.