I am about to make an admission that may damage my feminist cred in the eyes of some: I got a huge kick out of Howard Stern's radio show for many many years (until he left FM radio and I couldn't be bothered to switch to satellite). I didn't listen to him to try to be "cool" or to fit in with the guys. I started listening to him circa 1992 because I saw him on a cable TV show and he genuinely made me laugh.
Stern's humor can be a lot more subtle and intelligent than his detractors give him credit for. (Not always of course; I absolutely hate hate hate bathroom humor with an undying passion). Yes, he presents sexuality and sexual humor from a male point of view -- but at the same time as he repeatedly urges women to get naked in his studio, he is primarily lampooning male sexuality. His humor always struck me as not so much about trashing women (although, you know, he doesn't necessarily get a feminist gold star), but more about mocking the shallowness of his own inner 14 year old. Stern laughs generally at human beings' basest instincts (base because, as he himself ruefully acknowledges, these instincts are often at odds with any redeeming social value). Of course, he indulges in these instincts as well but always with a humorous self-awareness that (unfortunately) his imitators utterly lack. It's that self-awareness that, in my view, always saved him from descending into misogyny.
Stern makes fun of other people, sometimes relentlessly. But he also wears his own insecurities, neuroses, and weaknesses on his sleeve, and was generally just as hard on himself as everyone else. We hear about his horrible body image, his years in therapy, and his unhappy childhood. His parents make cameo appearances. (His mother's oblivious claim -- uttered in a thick New York accent -- that Stern was an "adored child," was comedy gold.)
I also never got the sense -- as I do with the likes of people like Andrew Dice Clay or Tucker Max -- that Stern views women as less than human. There are plenty of women who are objects of his mockery -- but there are plenty of people across the board who are objects of his mockery. In fact, Stern has often given voice to strippers, nude models, and porn stars, presenting them for the first time in the mass media as human beings. I find that far prefarable to Playboy's one-dimensional, unthreatening, presentations of centerfolds breathlessly gushing about what an "honor" it is to pose nude. We got to hear that Jenna Jamison is pretty darned intelligent and that sex workers have life stories, and family lives, and sex drives, and sexual dislikes, and insecurities and feelings like everyone else.
Robin Quivers is a crucial ingredient on the show, serving as a straightwoman who exposes the basic silliness of whatever the guys are doing. Stern was also a brilliant straight man himself -- my favorite bits being when he allowed Daniel Carver, the apparently oblivious or maybe moronic KKK Imperial Grand Wizard, to make a complete ass of himself.
I can't endorse everything Stern has ever said or done, obviously. And I'll allow that his influence has helped create a male-centered pornification of our culture that is not at all favorable to women or women's sexuality. But he made me laugh and he made me think. It bothers me to no end that his followers and imitators, the dreadful Tucker Maxes of the world, seem to have missed the point.