For girls who grow up without fathers, it's not unusual to act out sexually and look for validation in all the wrong places. Promiscuity is often observed as a common practice among "daddyless daughters" and is just one possible effect of not having a father figure. It's also something Dr. Steve Perry, founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, has seen in his work with fatherless girls, leading him to a startling definition of promiscuity as a whole.
"Promiscuity is the main thing," Dr. Perry says in the above video from "Oprah's Lifeclass," on the topic of daddyless daughters. "It's rarely seen as self-mutilation, but that's exactly what it is."
Iyanla Vanzant, a prominent voice in the discussion on both daddyless daughters and fatherless sons, agrees. "Absolutely. It's violence against the self," she says.
Dr. Perry continues, "Often when we look at young girls who are dealing with pain, we think of self-mutilation as the cutting. That, too, but [promiscuity is] the self-mutilation of allowing someone to physically enter you."
"Wow, that's a big one," Oprah says. "Self-mutilation comes in the form of promiscuity and it's violence against the self. I never thought of it that way before."
For Harlem Children's Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, there's something even more troublesome about promiscuous girls. "The thing that shocks me with these young girls is that... they don't necessarily even like the guys that much," he says. "I'm like, 'Why did you do that? You don't even like the guy?'... They don't know."
Dr. Perry has heard the justifications -- "He was nice to me," the young women often say -- and believes that the presence of a strong male role model combats this line of thought and the promiscuity that comes with it. He explains, "What a father or a very important father figure does for the young ladies with whom I work is it sets the standards."