When Your Heart Belongs to Daddy


We live in an all-too-gloomy world, blighted by war and hatred and pollution and prejudice. And it’s because of this that we all feel a sense of refreshment and uplift when we come across a story about the nobler emotions in humankind, a story about pure and simple love.

I am speaking, of course, of John and Jenny Deaves, the couple who warmed the nation’s hearts this week with a demonstration of the power of love to overcome all obstacles. John and Jenny Deaves are living proof that age differences, social disapproval and an overwhelming sense of nausea are no barrier to true love.

The Deaveses are what is called an "unconventional couple", in that John is, strictly speaking, Jenny’s father. As is so often the case, they were brought together by common interests, or to speak more scientifically, "genes". Having not lived with her father since she was a toddler, at 31 Jenny was reunited with him in a sort of Affair to Remember type scenario. Soon after the reunion, she "began to see him as a man first and her father second", which means that after an energetic session of lovemaking, he would take her to the zoo. Ms Deaves says, "I was looking at him, sort of going, oh, he’s not too bad … like you look at a man across the bar at a nightclub", and dammit if that isn’t just the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard.

Succumbing to passion just two weeks after meeting, the then 31-year-old Jenny and 61-year-old John began living out their fairytale, and were soon blessed with a child, who, in what must have been real turn-up for the books, quickly died from a congenital heart defect. Undeterred, the Deaveses have now produced another little bundle of joy, Celeste, and I think we can all agree that the sense of admiration engendered by their pluck and tenacity is matched only by the delighted anticipation of the blissful and psychologically untroubled life little Celeste has ahead of her. It’s even more lovely that "Celeste" rhymes with "incest", so she can carry a reminder of her origins with her for the rest of her life. I’ll bet that in a few years time her school chums might even be able to think of a jolly little song making use of the fact.

Of course, the usual naysayers and do-gooders have come out of the woodwork, spouting all those tired, predictable cliches: "community standards", "think of the children", "reckless irresponsibility", "ewww", and so on. These are simply people who have lost the romance from their souls. Have they never seen Romeo and Juliet? Those two star-crossed lovers didn’t care that they were from feuding families, because they knew the way they felt. And the Deaveses don’t care that they are from the same family, because their bond is strong. Really, have we become so cynical? Have we so lost sight of the beautiful things in life that we can’t celebrate when two hearts beat as one, when two people find in each other that missing part of themselves, when DNA looks in the mirror and says, "that’s for me"? Are we so bereft of feeling?

Now a South Australian judge has put them on a good behaviour bond and banned them from sexual contact. Well, thank you, justice system, for hurling romance down the latrine. Thank you for murdering our dreams.

Let me stress that I am by no means saying that incest is right for everyone. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be ashamed of those Veronicas fantasies. I’m just saying before we rush to judgment, we should take a moment to look at it from the Deaveses’ point of view.

Take John Deaves. Is he really such a misfit? How many fathers can honestly say they haven’t cradled their beautiful baby girl in their arms and thought to themselves, "wow, if you were 30 years older…"? What man, reunited with his child after having missed all those precious childhood years, wouldn’t find his thoughts immediately turning to satin sheets and sweaty fumblings?

And what of Jenny? Are her feelings really so strange? Be honest ladies, how many of you, when speculating upon your ideal partner have, deep down, thought that what you really wanted was an elderly, male, bald version of yourself? How many of you have thought to yourselves, "Sure, Dad does a great barbecue, but how is he in the sack?" I thought so. As Marilyn Monroe sang, "my heart belongs to Daddy", and why shouldn’t various other organs go along with it? I think Marilyn would have approved of John and Jenny’s romance. In fact, it’s the sort of relationship any chronic abuser of prescription drugs might really get behind.

In short, I want us all to stop being so uptight and consider the human aspect of the story. We all have sexual needs. We all have parents. Isn’t it natural to combine the two? John Deaves says sex with his daughter is "absolutely fantastic", and who are we to deny an old, flabby man such simple pleasures? Jenny asks for "a little bit of respect and understanding" – is that too much to ask? Can’t we all look inside our hearts, open up our minds, suppress our gag reflexes and rejoice in the magic of love? Sure it’s unconventional, but in the words of that kindly, twinkle-eyed philosopher-king Mr Deaves himself, "you know, so what?"

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.