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Monday, April 19, 2021

The Transformation Of A Daddy’s Girl–Finding A Congenial Spot On The Gender Spectrum

Nancy Hancock grew up as a pretty little girl, pampered and showered with love, affection, gifts, and attention by her adoring parents.  Her father was besotted by the girl, and although he loved his other children, it was to Nancy that his thoughts and feelings always turned.  He melted when she said, “I love you, Daddy” or took him by the hand as they walked to the park.  He thought she was the loveliest, most beautiful girl he had ever seen, and their affection and singular bond was obvious to everyone.

Image result for images father daughter love

As she grew older and approached puberty, he reluctantly gave her the space that any girl needs on her way to independence and womanhood; but he couldn’t help himself and found every opportunity to be with her.  As time went on he realized that he was quite dependent on her – her love, affection, and intimacy.  When she left home, he knew he would be disconsolate and emotionally bereft.

Lie Down in Darkness, William Styron’s powerful book about an emotionally incestuous love of a father for his daughter, ends badly.  Peyton Loftis was adored by her father, so much so that as she grew older, she felt suffocated.  She was a spoiled child, denied nothing, deprived of nothing, and given everything.  

Her early drinking was overlooked by her father, her affairs were considered inconsequential, and her increasingly long absences from home explained away. Despite the oppressive love of her father and her need to put distance between them, she had become dependent on others’ favors and desperately sought their love and attention.  Because of the demanding, stifling, and overwhelming love of her father, her sexual maturity was stunted; and rather than emerge from a privileged childhood into a fulfilling adulthood, she was stymied.  She abused the men she was with, even though it was she who had enticed them by her beauty, coyness, and mystery.

Image result for images william styron

Because of her father’s near incestuous love (only once does Loftis admit to such feelings for his daughter) and her easy way with him, she grew to resent and hate her mother who had been ignored by her Peyton-obsessed husband and seen her daughter, thanks to him, turn into a selfish, cold, and indifferent woman.

This would never happen to my daughter, Nancy’s father considered.  He was too aware of the perils of over-affection, permissiveness, and loss of parental respect.  And yet, even as she grew to young womanhood , he could not help himself and was as overzealous and emotionally demanding as ever.

As far as Nancy was concerned, she loved her father and felt lucky to have such an understanding and loving parent.  During her childhood years he could do no wrong and was her idol; but as she approached maturity she began to question his smothering love.  She was no longer a daddy’s girl who measured every man against her father, judging male responses by those of her father, or even seeking the solicitude and protection he had offered.  

On the contrary, her reactions became circumspect and judgmental.  There was something not right about such an obsessive paternal love.  Just as her father’s emotional overreaching disabled his ability to see and understand his parental role clearly, it made her question men in general.  After all, for fifteen years he had been the only man in her life, immured in an emotional  life of his doing,

When she went off to college and was finally on her own, she floundered.  The boys she met, so attentive and drawn to her beauty and remove just as they were for Peyton Loftis, were, compared to her father, unformed and immature, incapable of understanding her or any woman.  Because of her necessarily Puritanical upbringing – her father could not bring himself to admit let alone approve of any boy she brought home – her own sexual maturity was unformed and incomplete.  She was unprepared for sex with men, found it an unsettling if not unpleasant thought, and demurred for two years. 

Her life changed when she met Charlotte, a lesbian Senior, with whom she found sex initiating, ingratiating, and pleasant.  Something however was always missing, she thought, feeling more heterosexual than she would ever admit to Charlotte. She knew that there was more to sex than fingers, tongues, and hands; yet if a man had to be attached to the missing instrument, she wanted no part of it.  

By her junior year she thought of herself as a sexual cipher, capable of intense sexual release but which was somehow inchoate – it belonged only to her and not to her partner.  Mono-orgasm as she called it was ultimately unsatisfying.  She left Charlotte but still wanted no part of her male classmates who had still to get off the sexual mark

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By the time she was in her senior year, the idea of the gender spectrum had not only gained currency but adopted as the only sexual ethos on campus. Regardless of one’s biological and genetic makeup, sexual preference was a choice not a given.  What one did with one’s vagina was of infinite variety.  Not only that, advances in medical science had all but guaranteed a physical sexuality which would correspond to one’s emotional one.  The options were almost limitless.  Hormone therapy could either be a means of mitigating one’s heterosexual desires or preparing one for eventual physical transformation.

Image result for images gender spectrum

All this appealed to Nancy, although she was not ready for any radical sexual overhaul.  For the time being she simply wanted to find that particular niche which corresponded to her complicated, complex desires.  

On a campus website there was a list of possibilities, a kind of Want Ads for sexual liaison.  Women Looking For Men and vice-versa were at the bottom of the list in small print and nearly off the page.  The permutations and combinations featured at the top.  The one which got the most play was the one for men who felt they were women and wanted to be loved by men who loved women.  This of course was inadvertently reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20 in which the poet tries to justify his love for a man who was originally made a woman, but Nature changed her mind so that she – Nature – could love the man she created and gave him male features.

A woman's face with nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion:
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

Image result for Images Shakespeare. Size: 153 x 204. Source: www.theschoolrun.com

This Want Ad was followed by many in the same vein – women who identified as men who were seeking men who loved men; women who identified as strong, masculine women who were seeking girly girls; etc. The possibilities were endless and the good thing was that choice could be a smorgasbord – a generous feast where one could pick and choose before finally deciding. 

Nancy picked from the list, abjuring the most radical unions, and sticking to the far more conventional.  There were many behavioral operatic options which initially appealed to her – sugar daddies, disciplinarians, louts acted out by men or women; Garden Playtime, all frilly dresses, patent leather, garden swings, and trellises – reminiscent of fanciful Ido period Japanese woodcuts or Hindu miniatures, Prostitute seeks Johns; etc.

 Image result for japanese pornographic 19th century prints man on swing

After a sampling of the tastiest, she gave up.  Most of the men and women she met were only dancing to a different drummer for a night. They were sexually as straight as arrows – men and women who, caught momentarily in the transgender zeitgeist of college campuses, played at alternative sexuality but when given a chance back home, reverted to form, had heterosexual sex in back seats, attics, basements, and cornfields.

To be fair, there were some men and women who through this rather arduous and complicated process did get in touch with their unique sexuality; but were ultimately disappointed because the outside world had no sexual theatre and little chance of finding that unique, strange pairing they found on campus. 

Life, despite the currents of sexual diversity in the country, was simple, straightforward, and straight.  The percentage of Americans who consider themselves gay has never moved past three percent and those who favor transgenderism a scant fraction of one percent and holding steady.

Not surprisingly Nancy Hancock married a man not unlike her father – successful, handsome, and considerate and loving to a point of no return.  While campus radicals tried to play Freud in their behavioral offerings, they could never get past comic book fantasy.  The real world was different.  For every daddy’s girl there is a father in waiting. 

Her marriage was as fitful as her childhood, and it ended badly.  One can play out one’s Freudian compulsions for only so long.  Her second marriage was more free market – no hidden agendas, no psychological complexes, no unfulfilled needs, just plain, old heterosexual attraction. 

Nancy saw her father frequently, but saw no reason to expand upon her college dalliances or failed first marriage.  She loved her father, she knew now more than ever, understood that he was one of the few fathers who really, extravagantly, intemperately loved their daughters but never thought less of him for it.

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