OPINION | Call Her Daddy now encourages women to embrace sexuality

Anna Dixon, Staff Writer

Phone cartoon with "Daddy" instead of numbers.
Alex Cooper, host of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, takes the show in a positive, feminist direction.

With an estimated three million listeners, “Call Her Daddy” is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. The podcast and its host, Alex Cooper, have gained significant notoriety and have been subject to great criticism. Although the podcast focuses on relationship and sex advice, its overall tone has shifted notably. Since its start, “Call Her Daddy” has transitioned from content centered on sex tips reminiscent of internalized misogyny to advice and discussions of the intersection of relationships and mental health. This transformation is representative of most women’s journey of recognizing that they are allowed to set their own rules for relationships instead of being subject to the ones set by a patriarchal system.

Original episodes produced by Barstool Sports featured former “Call Her Daddy” co-host Sofia Franklyn alongside Cooper. These episodes have been frequently criticized and deemed “anti-feminist” by many online. Episodes seemed to promote the idea that dating and hookups are a game, and women, rather than criticizing this game, should learn how to play. This idea is a sad reality of our society, especially for college students. 

Hookup culture is riddled with patriarchal principles that leave men with more power than their female partners. Many women in college, who wish to participate in hookups are incapable of changing long-established gender norms, and therefore find themselves subject to these restrictive norms which can result in feelings of shame and internalized misogyny.

Franklyn and Cooper’s word choice and messaging not only acknowledged that women are viewed as subordinate to men in this game, but also enforced this ideology. This language is not uncommon when describing hookup culture, but that does not lessen its dangerous effects. 

In the early days of “Call Her Daddy,” Cooper argued that the podcast offered “locker room talk” for women and provided an environment where women could freely and openly discuss their sexual experiences — a luxury previously reserved for men. This, in and of itself, is a feminist breakthrough. “Call Her Daddy” normalized women discussing pleasure and sex which can give women the confidence to discuss these topics in other environments. However, the original hosts were both white, cisgender, heterosexual women, which inherently skews content away from issues that may concern women of color or people in the LGBT community differently. 

The content of “Call Her Daddy” now far transcends what one would deem as “locker room talk.” Since Cooper began hosting the podcast solo, the overall messaging and language has shifted. She frequently discusses her therapy in a positive tone, and she shares her realizations that previous behaviors that she considered normal are actually unhealthy. This evolution in thinking is not unique to Cooper. It is through experience that most women learn their roles and needs in a relationship. Internalized misogyny is a tool of the patriarchy and requires deconstruction. Some recognize this early in life while others take longer and may require the assistance of a therapist, but neither of these paths makes a woman less feminist than the other.

Cooper acknowledges her problematic statements in a way unlike most people with a platform do: genuinely. In her first episode following her recent contract with Spotify, which made her one of the highest-paid podcasters, Cooper made fun of the previous misogynistic statements she has made, such as “cheat or be cheated on,” and asserted her new opinion: “games are over.” Cooper spends most of the episode emphasizing that her listeners should carry themselves with confidence during the time deemed “Hot Girl Summer.” She affirms that it is not a physical characteristic that makes a woman confident but rather a mindset.

Mental health takes the forefront on recent episodes of “Call Her Daddy” in a variety of ways. In the July 14 episode entitled “‘Block him’ – My therapist,” Cooper talks with lifelong friend and Tulane University Alum, Lauren McMullen, about McMullen’s recent therapy session. They debrief her therapist’s response to McMullen blocking her ex and why that was the proper step for her at that moment. For this portion of the episode, the listener is simply a fly on the wall as two close friends debrief one of their therapy sessions. This simultaneously normalizes the act of going to therapy and provides the listener with insight into why they could be behaving in a similar way.

In an episode that aired on Aug. 4, Cooper interviewed ­­­­AnnaLynne McCord, who discussed her diagnosis with dissociative personality disorder after experiencing sexual abuse as a child. The details of her abuse are not discussed, but rather the episode focuses on the way that therapy helped her reach this diagnosis and how she copes with the PTSD of the abuse. Overall, “Call Her Daddy” is shifting towards discussing the more emotional aspects of sex and affirming that every person has the right to choose their own relationship with sex.

These changes in the podcast are reflective of Cooper’s growth and maturation as an individual, which is a necessary process that all women endure in different ways and at different speeds. “Call Her Daddy” is by no means the solution to the inequality between men and women in relationships, but it can be a tool capable of encouraging women to identify and embrace their own relationship with sex.

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