Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn will be the first to tell you that their podcast, “Call Her Daddy,” is not listed under the health and wellness section. That being said, it was recently nominated for iHeartRadio’s Best Advice Podcast. They are reaching wide audiences, boasting 1.2 million followers on their Instagram page and topping the charts on iTunes. That’s where things get complicated.
On one hand, “Call Her Daddy” is empowering. Consider the name of the podcast: Its purpose is to flip power dynamics between men and women. Hosts Cooper and Franklyn have managed to create a space for all genders to talk about sex without any judgment. This is especially monumental because women don’t have many public places to discuss sex. This is important, as female sexuality is often considered a taboo topic. People often shy away from topics of female masturbation or all the embarrassing things that happen during sex, partly because there’s a lot of inequality when it comes to sex. For example, 75 percent of men claim to consistently reach orgasm during sex, compared to only 29 percent of women. A 2018 survey reveals that 92 percent of men admit to masturbating, compared to 76 percent of women, which is a large discrepancy. “Call Her Daddy” embraces these things, talking about them and sharing stories about them.
To talk so openly about these taboos normalizes them, and these are things that need to be normalized. Episodes are filled with sex tips, which empowers women to break out of their comfort zones and learn how to make sex more enjoyable for themselves. They essentially offer the sex education none of us ever got, and some of the advice they give about sex and love is amazing. For example, in episode 31, “You’re Just a Hole,” they tell girls to stop asking guys questions they know will hurt their feelings.
In addition to destigmatizing many topics, the podcast offers a space to discuss them. Every week, Cooper and Franklyn read questions, stories and tips. This is the most important part of the show. Cooper and Franklyn are two beautiful 20-something-year-olds living in New York City and sometimes, it can be hard to relate to them. It’s like listening to your older sister talk to her friends and being awestruck, but unable to really join in on the conversation. By including their listeners in the show, they reach a much wider audience. Men and women of all ages write in with different experiences, and it becomes impossible not to laugh, relate and have your deepest, weirdest questions answered. Podcasts make it easier for both hosts and listeners to be open because of the sense of security provided by the faceless aspect of the medium.
While “Call Her Daddy” is empowering, it is also toxic. Much of the show is about embracing sex, but the other aspect is advice on how to survive in the world of dating and relationships. This advice consists of Cooper and Franklyn telling listeners “cheat or be cheated on,” and that “boys love the crazy.” They tell listeners to make their hookups feel insecure. They play into the stereotypes that girls are crazy and manipulative, and that boys are liars and cheaters. These are toxic stereotypes that normalize abusive relationships.
In episode 49, “Stop Ruining Your Relationship,” Cooper chronicles the times she set alarms that sounded like her ringtone on her phone so she could convince her boyfriend she was getting calls from another guy in the middle of the night. They tell girls to wear cologne so they can upset their boyfriends by coming home smelling like another guy. They promote creating fake social media accounts to stalk your love interest and those he or she is involved with. They often give tips on how to catch a cheater and simultaneously give tips on how to get away with cheating. They comment on women’s appearances, telling girls that they would rate “under a seven” to sleep around more than hotter girls. They joke recklessly about not using condoms and tell stories of toxic things they have done in the past, like going through their partner’s phone. This advice becomes dangerous to impressionable listeners.
While sex education in high schools tends to teach the basics, like how to put on a condom and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it does not prepare you for life in the real world and all the things you may encounter in your sex life. If young people who are lacking sex education turn to “Call Her Daddy” to fill in the blanks, they’ll be well informed in some aspects and misinformed in others. This includes the lack of diversity within the show, too. It’s told from a heterosexual perspective, so it is lacking the things that a podcast like “Guys We F***ked” by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson covers. On “Guys We F***ked,” “topics range from sex politics, experiences of the LGBTQ community, the culture surrounding sexual assault, polyamorous relationships and their weekly advice-seeking emails.” There’s also “Black Girl Experience,” a sex and relationship podcast by Jasmine Danielle, which offers a more diverse perspective than “Call Her Daddy” can.
Some people love “Call Her Daddy” and some love to hate it. While the hosts run into fans on the street and receive doting messages from the #DaddyGang, they have also dealt with criticism, which they love to discuss. For example, episode 69, titled “EPISODE 69 (ft. Chlamydia)” opens with the girls reading quotes from a New York Post article totally ridiculing them. Some reviews of the show fail to see the humor, with one reviewer rating the podcast with one star and writing, “Slut shaming disguised as feminism.” That being said, it’s hard to find bad reviews out there.
The issue with “Call Her Daddy” is that it is hilarious, relatable and filled with some genuinely good advice. This makes it hard for some to differentiate between what is truth, what is comedy, what is good advice and what is totally insane. “Call Her Daddy” manages to be totally empowering and toxic at the same time. One must be able to differentiate between the two, or else their platform becomes dangerous.
Sophie Miller is a junior majoring in English.