Friday, April 15, 2011


As a child I used to watch the old film reel of Godzilla vs. King Kong. We kids knew that Godzilla was the badder of the two for a couple of obvious reasons. First of all, Godzilla was reptilian, cold-blooded, and serpentine (which our Western heritage associated with the Devil: Mr. Toad, Grendel, Golem and the Grinch being close relatives). Secondly, Kong was mammalian, warm-blooded, and especially demanded our Darwinian empathy. Also, we associated Godzilla with the Communists, so Kong, by default, was American. Kind of.

Daughterzilla can be a vehement, fire-breathing dragon against which the efforts of a raging Kong do little good but escalate the height of her fury, postpone the resolution of essential concerns, or extenuate the territory of collateral damage. Aggressive daughters are naturally calibrated by fathers to pummel masculine “interference” into compliance, while the only “ceiling” on the absurd lengths to which a strong-willed daughter will go to get what she wants is often the fluctuating will of the father. If she can push hard enough (or enough), she can dislodge fatherly resolve or modify a fatherly scruple. I am thinking about two generic kinds of Daughterzillas.

1. MEDUSA. A Medusa has the power to emotionally unravel (or knot up) her father at a glance, with a word, with sheer presence.  A few weeks ago in line at a local store, I heard a girl call her father a “butthead.” I did a double-take, not because the girl was disrespectful, but because I heard her father laugh. Nervously. The daughter, sixteen or so, continued to melodramatically chastise him in front of me over the mechanical malfunction of her car radio. She was in his personal space, and he was leaning back sheepishly. He responded in soft, nonsensical bursts of laughter, eye avoidance, and the jingling of change in his pockets to each successive, scathing indictment which went something like the following:

“Dad, you’re such a butthead! I told you to fix the radio when I was sick almost all of last week! I told you! And I need it this weekend but now I don’t have a frigging radio!”

“Haha. Mmm. Hmmm.”

“You are so gay! Just give me the frigging money and I’ll get it fixed!”

“Hmm hahaha. Now, calm down. We still have time. I’ll take care of it tomorrow...”

His viewing his daughter with half-closed eyes or peering at her out of the corner of his eyes underscored how painful he found this discourse to be. It was my guess that dialogue between him and his daughter was oftener of this sort than not.

Fathers like this have been trained to feel guilty for not taking care of their daughters’ needs, “needs” being dictated by daughters. Usually, the father’s relationship with his wife has been supplanted by his relationship with his daughter. Perhaps, the wife is hard to please. Perhaps, the wife is emotionally detached for any number of reasons. Perhaps the wife is too domineering. I have typically found fathers like this to be replicating the kind of ideal relationship with their daughters that they have found to be hopeless with their wives. So disappointment is not an option, or it is a painful option.

Medusas intuitively feel their fathers “need” to bat a 100% insofar as making them happy is concerned. If they feel resistance of any sort, they intuitively know how to humiliate him into action: by attacking those very drives that compel fathers to spoil their daughters: insecurity. I think it to be a wicked thing for daughters to do, young or old.

2. LADY MACBETH. My wife and I invited some people over to dinner one evening and the father and daughter didn’t even sit down. Seriously. They stood at the far end of the kitchen and talked to each other. Seriously. I tried to enter the conversation a few times, but the father (who was in a foul mood of the hissy sort) would just look at me like I was interrupting his father-daughter time. Actually, they were talking about the mother who was trying to enjoy something to eat with my wife.

He complained in a whiny voice to his thirteen-year-old daughter until I wanted to throw him out of the house. Oh, and he alternated between denigrating the mother (in whispers that the mother could hear) and talking about worship music, hahaha. They kept whispering back and forth until I got that eerie feeling that the daughter was not just a pawn being used by the father against the mother, but she was a willing participant, egging her father on by jarring his memory to add to his catalog of injustices. A few years later, the marriage ended in divorce, and the daughter was having a hard time extricating herself from her father, though she saw that he was clearly in the wrong. She was stuck.

I have seen this elsewhere, too, in a relationship between a father and daughter that ended up being wholly inappropriate. The mother was a Christian drunk (she was a pastor’s wife and a drunk), and the father’s response was to ignore his wife’s behavior and to turn his attention to his daughter (whom I originally thought was a quiet and sweet girl). I later learned that they would share information about the mother to each other and that the girl actually acted as a “spy” for dad, feeding him information (much of it untrue). So when that marriage broke apart, the daughter was the worse off for it. To this day the daughter hates her mother. And the daughter is a drunk.

What is maddening about a Lady Macbeth is that she becomes willing party to the demise of the mother in order to solidify her position in the household. Also, she uses her sexuality improperly (her willing ear or her ability to comfort her father) in order to gain immunity from being treated like a child or in order to drive a wedge between the parents in order to become that much more indispensable to the father. Does she do it for sexual reasons? Not all of the time. Does she use her sexuality to achieve her own ends? You bet your bottom dollar.

Where the father is shamefully wrong is his putting the pressure of the marriage upon his offspring. By doing that, he creates an emotionally inappropriate bond that often leads to an inappropriate attraction/desire between father and daughter. Of course, the daughter completely wants to back out of the situation when the dependence of the father becomes too much for her. But she can't. It is very much like sexual immorality. It happened, and you cannot easily take it back by willing it gone.

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