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I’m a Feminist Who Listens to Call Her Daddy

Call Her Daddy has been called many things from scandalous to “uptight frauds” by the NY Post. But lately, a new title for this podcast has been circling the world of social media: anti-feminist.

If you aren’t familiar with Call Her Daddy, it’s a comedy podcast hosted by Alexandra Cooper, who is infamous for her raunchy take on sex and relationships and wild stories involving her own love life. Her brand is built around being a 20-something in New York and Los Angeles, with an emphasis on casual sex, drinking, and making wild memories. Over the past two years since its conception, the show has gained millions of weekly listeners and dominated the comedy podcast charts, known especially well amongst the college-aged crowd.

This podcast, while entertaining, is far from perfect. For one, it’s hosted by Barstool Sports, a company run by Dave Portnoy, who is notorious for making racist and sexist comments on his online platforms. The podcast itself has been negatively discussed in the media multiple times, namely for Cooper’s use of degrading language like “slut” and reiterations that women should “know their place” and perform sexually to please men. It also normalizes toxic relationship behaviors such as going through your partner’s phone and justifies cheating—one of Cooper’s most famous quotes is “cheat or be cheated on.” The sex advice in this podcast, while an attempt to normalize talking about sex openly, are consistently heterosexual and heteronormative, using language like “men and women” to assume sex and gender congruence. With all of this considered, I understand why this podcast is controversial and polarizing, especially for those who fall outside the “target audience” or who are educated as feminists and activists.

This is not to say that there aren’t any good parts of this podcast. In the past few months, Cooper has expanded her range to include interviews and honest discussions with other influential women, notably some of whom are sex workers. These episodes, like Episode 114 with Mia Khalifa, share important stories about overcoming adversity and becoming comfortable as a woman and a sexual being. These conversations are crucial to reframing negative stereotypes of women in the sex work industry and creating role models for young women who do not fit into the normative expectations of society.

Episode 92 features Miley Cyrus, who talks openly about her attraction to men and women, and the episode does a fantastic job of centering her narrative and experience in a non-judgemental way. Cooper does right with her redefinition of the podcast: open discussions about sex are valuable and too uncommon, especially for young people, as the current education system fails to provide them with comprehensive sex education.

So, as a young woman and a feminist, how do I justify supporting a podcast that shares heteronormative and sometimes problematic content? For me, it’s all about acknowledging the shortcomings and mistakes. Any successful person will have moments where they fall short of widespread expectations, but instead of allowing these moments to define a person, we can use them to better the situation. Alex Cooper is no exception, and it is our responsibility as an audience to notice problematic content, choose not to internalize it, and hold her responsible to make a change.

When I listen to this podcast, I enjoy the humor and listening to entertaining stories, but I am constantly assessing the messaging of the script, pausing to think at any problematic points about how I might reframe the topic. Instead of writing hate comments on Reddit, I use my educational experience to email in suggestions for how the language in the podcast might be better focused towards including different sex and gender expressions and orientations. But above all, I don’t stop listening.

As a society we can’t give up on women in power, even if their power is to reach millions of young adults through raunchy sex stories, because we desperately need representation and role models. And in my opinion, there’s nothing more anti-feminist than tearing another woman down.

Sydney is a Communication and Feminist Studies double major and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She's a Petaluma, California native, the egg capital of the world! When she's not writing, you can find her pole dancing, playing with cats, and listening to true crime podcasts.
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