“Call her daddy” – a plea to empower women in the bedroom (heteronormative). Problems with your sex life? Alexandra Cooper, host of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast (2018–), which airs episodes every Wednesday, aims to please — and provoke. Cooper disrupts pacified visions of female sexuality, whether dismantling or fueling patriarchy. Call it controversial.
At January 18, Co-opuh interviewed Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger sister of Britney Spears with whom she quarrels, in a two-part series. Throughout Britney’s 13-year guardianship, Jamie’s actions have been widely seen as destructive and counter-productive for the #FreeBritney movement. the The movement grew out of popular outrage over Britney Spears’ father’s abuse of power during conservatorship, during which he gave him drugs without his consent and prevented her from having other children. The gender-based violence inflicted on Britney’s body, mind, career and legacy is neither new nor fleeting. Britney hasn’t been able to fully share her experiences yet, but Jamie capitalizes on Britney’s struggles through book promotion. Like Cooper’s highest profile contribution to the #FreeBritney discourse, her decision to platform Jamie faces criticism.
“Call Her Daddy” is not new to controversy. Critics claim that she favors male pleasure, promotes patriarchal beauty standards and objective women. Before Cooper took the show to Spotify, Barstool controlled its production, causing controversy around its founder Dave Portnoy to Cooper and former co-host Sofia Franklyn. Now the only host, Cooper uses media coverage of the legal battle to appear feminist in his triumphs in a male-dominated industry. She now markets the show as a space for women to explore their sexuality, relationships and femininity while center mental health. Yet Cooper’s interview with Jamie Lynn Spears discredits Britney Spears as a woman struggling with mental health issues whose father took control of her body, family planning, voice and career . Spears’ episodes are also the most downloaded in “Call Her Daddy” history.
Father Cooper – as the host invites listeners to call him — asserts power in its affirmation of a masculine role. Her listeners revere her as they would their fathers, but she actively chooses this position of power. Linda Hirshman, lawyer and gender policy writer term “feminism of choice” perfectly defines Cooper’s message: A woman is liberated if she makes the choices, whatever they are. Although still subscribing to heteronormative gender roles, feminism is confirmed when she is “daddy”. Wednesdays serve to ignore the harsh reality of patriarchy that conditions women to think they really like being “dad.”
At On January 21, Cooper released a mini-episode called “Cancel Call Her Daddy” to respond to Spears’ interview.
“It’s always like not giving people platforms, shutting them up. … I think someone has a story that can be interesting and entertaining to tell even if it’s controversial, even if it makes you uncomfortable, that’s the beauty of media,” said Cooper.
Cooper embraces controversy and asks us to get into the discomfort of listening to stories we disagree with. Many disagree with Jamie, and just as many disagree with “Call Her Daddy.” Does Cooper want her audience to revere her as their “daddy” or should they question her, just as many women and gender minorities aim to challenge the power that cisgender men claim as their “daddy”?
Cooper blurs the feminist view of intersectional progress, despite being a masterful ophthalmologist for the male gaze. But the criticism surrounding Cooper’s media may be usurping women power itself. The podcast is not categorized as a program focused on political or social justice, but rather a comedy — a form of entertainment that is often offensive in nature. “Call Her Daddy” is almost always controversial, and maybe that’s the point. The question becomes: should “Call Her Daddy” be feminist?
“Call Her Daddy” is perhaps its own feminist sect, like that of the “girlboss,” a neologism popularized by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. The idea of a girlboss is a woman who, rRather than freeing oneself from capitalist patriarchy, decides to sit in it. In feminist “Call Her Daddy” practice, the woman is still chained by patriarchy, sitting on top of the man who chains her.
But “Call Her Daddy’s” girlboss feminism isn’t entirely failing. You can never completely decenter men. After all, feminism is a reaction against male power systems. Feminist thought has not always been dominant, but the off-label form of feminism embodied by the girlboss has helped popularize it. But we evolved beyond that, and the girlboss became an archetype: an accidental satire.
“Call Her Daddy” may feel like listening to Cooper’s internalized male gaze recount his life, but it started out as a critique of sexism. So it goes: we criticize society, then we criticize the way we have criticized society. So, no, “Call Her Daddy” doesn’t have to be feminist, but the way we listen to it can be.