This is part of an occasional series in which we explain Internet things. We lượt thích to lớn call it memesplaining; you might Hotline it meme-ruining. Regardless, if you just chanced upon an image macro, hashtag, app or GIF you don’t understvà, we have sầu the answers — insofar as answers can be had.

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But the slang endearment, popular on Twitter and Instagram (among other platforms), is usually meant lớn communicate respect/adoration lớn a male authority figure. The female equivalent, needless to say, is “mom.” Writing on her Tumblr in November 2014, the then-18-year-old singer Lorde explained the meme this way:

Among muốn the youthz a compliment; it basically jokingly means “adopt me/be my second mom/i think of you as a mother figure you are so epic.

This isn’t entirely family-friendly, though — the meme frequently has a sexual tinge. You probably wouldn’t “daddy”/”mom” someone you didn’t find attractive sầu. In March, GQ attempted to quantify the most-daddied celebrities on Twitter & basically ended up with the Teen Choice Awards’ male hottie list: Zayn Malik, Drake and the Biebs are all “daddied” pretty often.

This particular, laudatory use of “daddy” — and there are others, more on that in a sec — has its roots in the teenage người Internet. It was arguably Lorde’s năm trước “mom” tweet to Kim Kardashian that alerted adults khổng lồ the term. Since then, it’s remained popular aý muốn teens, ironic adults, và a sect of … die-hard Trumpians.

If you want lớn talk about the longer history of the word “daddy,” however, that’s a bit more … complex. Eve Peyser suggests that it’s linked khổng lồ the phrase “daddy issues” & some larger, more incestuous questions. In a recent feature for Mel, Alamãng cầu Levinson traces the sexualization of “daddy” back through popular music & kink culture. Here’s how Levinson explains the connection between BDSM và the modern Daddy meme:

It’s easy lớn forget that term, for all its ubiquity, is also an actual sexual fetish. ‘ is lượt thích BDSM-lite, & gives you the right amount of semi-roleplay without having to lớn go the leather route or engage in a full-on immersive roleplay,’ an anonymous 28-year-old woman explained lớn me.
In this context, “daddy” is a gateway to lớn exploring the dominant/submissive sầu dynamic, which doesn’t always need to be overtly sexual. It can be funny, playful or just weird.

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Not everyone thinks this context is “funny” or “playful,” however. On Aug. trăng tròn, the Internet rabble-rouser Shanley Kane argued in a series of profanity-laced tweets that the term “daddy” originated in marginalized queer subcultures and that its use outside those cultures was “appropriating.” That sparked a whole lot of outraged, mocking and occasionally threatening responses under the hashtag #daddygate.

Kane later acknowledged that a lot of different subcultures use the word “daddy,” so we’re happy to shelve that whole debate.

Are you over 17? Well then, maybe … don’t. If you are old enough to think through the possible political and psychosexual implications of “daddy,” you are also old enough to reach for a thesaurus.

Alternately, you can bust out the teenage compliment as a size of ironic/subversive sầu critique (!!). This ground is well-tread và sort of exhausting, especially in the wake of #daddygate, but if you’re reading this I imagine you’re behind anyway.

BDSM parallels aside, the “Daddy” meme has precious little to vì chưng with dads. It’s a commentary on hero-worship và power dynamics — và sometimes, a way of reversing them. Here’s Peyser writing in Thành Phố New York mag:

A grown woman says daddy with intention, self-assurance, & lots of cynicism. We claimed “daddy” as our own, which allows us to gently mock the patriarchal structures we’re playing into. The daddy joke is that we have sầu control over the way we manifest “daddy”; that we could, one day, even become our own daddy.
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