My heart belongs to daddy

Pub date December 16, 2009

Dear Andrea:

OK, I get it about the hot moms, but what about dads? Does anyone ever talk about them? I remember when our son was younger and my husband would be out with him in the Baby Bjorn or stroller, he would tell me he got a lot more attention from women than he did otherwise. Some of that was really about the cute baby, but really, he was pretty sure those women were flirting with him. What was that about? He had a wedding ring and a kid!

Is there a thing about DILFs like there is about MILFs? It kind of seems like there would be, but it’s not something you ever hear.


Wondering Mom

Dear Mom:

Kinda. Did you try Googling "DILF?’ There’s a ton more out there than I would have expected, but since you’re not the first one to bring this up, I have been looking. A lot of it is just online porny zeitgeistiness — "people are talking about MILFs, so people will be wondering about DILFs, so I, sex-site owner or promoter or whatever, will make sure there’s something for them to see." The perhaps unexpected (although not to me!) detail is that almost every hit brings you to gay porn. This should not be a big surprise when you remember that there just isn’t a lot of "hot guy!" stuff marketed to women. There is some, but most porn made for women is very couple-y. So "DILF" for porn purposes seems to refer to somewhat older men-for-men, and fits neatly alongside already-existing categories like "daddies." And "daddy" for porn purposes never had the first thing to do with taking the kids to the park. There are also bears, of course, but they are likewise not associated with babies. Not even Baby Bjorns. Ahem.

I did run across "Am I A DILF?" and "How To Be A DILF"-type posts on various dad blogs, but I find something unconvincing about the entire question, not to mention the suggestions. Use hair product? Work out a lot? Really? There is no question that attractive dads get a lot of attention (including a great deal of media attention, if they’re Jude Law or Brad Pitt), but I am not sold on the idea that they are getting it for their abs, let alone their well-gelled hair. Rather, I think a nice-looking guy pushing his daughter on the swings or toting an adorable toddler in a backpack attracts extra attention because (unfairly to today’s crop of fully involved fathers) a father who knows how to be a dad, not just a contributor of genetic material and material support, is still seen as an exception. And he is attractive to women who hope to find such a partner themselves, or who wish that the partner they did have would be more like that. He is not being fetishized for his fecundity (or for keeping his trim figure), nor are most admirers hoping to bed him. The women who are staring are well aware that he is married. Few are seriously plotting or even fantasizing a seduction. Now, for the attractive single dad at the playground …

While I do believe that the good father’s good-fatherliness is a large part of his appeal, it’s worth mentioning here that recent theories in sociobiology have poked giant holes in our previous, somewhat cartoonish view of protohuman, early human, and modern hunter-gatherer sexual politics and economics. It’s no longer safe to assume that women are hardwired to look for one reliable provider to raise our expensive, fragile, slow-maturing offspring with. Newer theories hold that human kids are so expensive and slow-growing that the preindustrial nuclear family could never have supported them. You need relatives, older children, and friends, as well as a husband, to keep a baby safe and well-fed.

This does open up a little room for us to view men, including men with children, as sex objects and not merely provider-objects. But I am just not buying the idea of women (most women, that is) seeing a handsome dad out daddying and thinking, "Now there’s a dad I’d like to fuck." I think most women who find, say, Brad Pitt sexy just find him sexy. There’s no special category for "has kids but is still hot." Rather, I think the sight of a man ministering to or goofing around with his young kids inspires an "aaww!" reaction that is, while not specifically antisexual, certainly not sexy-sexual. It may make you want to marry him or wish you had married him, or hope that when it is time to marry you find someone as handsome-plus-good-with-kids. It adds to a man’s attractiveness as a theoretical life partner, not as a potential fuck buddy. And I do not believe the same goes for MILFs. Having the hots for a dad is never going to carry the enormous cultural madonna-versus-whore weight that the "hot mom" does. And he can be happy about that.