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Our interview of Dr. Jennifer Berman for “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere. Dr. Berman is a New York Times best selling author, a practicing urologist, a pioneer and leading authority in the field of female sexual health, a former co-host of the award winning CBS talk show “The Doctors,” and a long-time advocate for women’s wellness issues.
A transcript of the full interview follows:
Jon: I am joined today by Dr. Jennifer Berman. Welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Berman: Thank you.
Jon: You are a urologist and sexual health expert.
Dr. Berman: Yes.
Jon: And you are a celebrity in your own right.
Dr. Berman: Okay, alright.
Jon: You are.
Dr. Berman: According to me.
Jon: You have that coveted blue check on Instagram.
Dr. Berman: Thank you.
Jon: And you have been on many TV appearances and we'll circle back around on those, but including the Oprah Show and Conan O'Brien.
Dr. Berman: Yup.
Jon: Because I've done a lot of a deep dive into your background in the sense of your professional background, and I also noticed that you come from an accomplished family, which we'll get to in the future, but where are you from originally?
Dr. Berman: I was born in Manhattan, New York, and we lived in New York until I was about 15, and then my parents moved to rural southeast Georgia from New York. So that kind of was a defining moment in the trajectory of my life. And it was really a culture shock, to put it mildly, verging on traumatic, but I really enjoy it now. It’s a place that I go back to with my kids and I appreciate it, but it was very different, the Bible Belt. We were Jewish; there were very few Jewish families down there. We got the whole anti-Semitism talk. It was like an out of body experience.
Jon: Did you stay there through high school?
Dr. Berman: I was there through high school. My sister's four years younger than me, so she was there longer. She was there for all of high school, and I was only there 10th, 11th to 12th Grade, but I think it kind of shaped my path because then I went to college in the South, and I sort of climatized to a southern—
Jon: —Southern belle
Dr. Berman: —way of thinking and that shaped me in different ways too. I went to college in the South and then I ended up deciding after I graduated from college that I wanted to go to medical school.
Jon: I was going to ask, what led you to medicine?
Dr. Berman: My father was a colorectal surgeon so it was sort of something that I knew and was exposed to throughout my childhood, and I would spend time with him in the operating room. Back in those days, I could go make rounds, I could go in the operating room, I was putting sutures—
Jon: So it was the family business?
Dr. Berman: Yeah and not only that. The hospitals were very embracing and just sort of a way of life, but not something that I wanted to pursue as a career until after I graduated from college, and I chose my college at that time because I loved horses and I brought my horsey.
Jon: So you brought your horse to college?
Dr. Berman: Horse Josephine came to college with me.
Jon: I got to digress a second because I saw you have participated in horse jumping competitions.
Dr. Berman: I still do.
Jon: I didn't mean past tense. When did you start doing that?
Dr. Berman: That was in New York. We lived in Manhattan, but we had a home up in Cold Spring, New York, so on the weekends I would ride horses at the pony club there and then when I got sent away to summer camp in as they do back east. They don't really do that here in California, but back east everybody went to summer camp, and I was sent to horseback riding camps and fell in love with horses, and it's a big part of my life. So the horse came to college and then I graduated college and then that's when I went to medical school and didn't have horses, but as soon as I was in my residency in Baltimore, I ended up going to Baltimore for a residence, I sold a car and got a horse and I've had them—not such great horses, a little bit of crazy horses but over time I've been able to get better ones.
Jon: Now did you always do horse jumping or was it the competitions?
Dr. Berman: Jumping competitions always.
Jon: How did you start that?
Dr. Berman: The Pony Club. They teach you. You just work your way up from grooming and picking hooves, and the pony clubs have you doing crazy things like vaulting and fearless cross country. They totally acclimate you to horse life and some people enjoy it and it's a passing, some people latch onto it and make careers out of it. I don't have the raw talent to become a professional rider or I may have because I certainly love it that much, but it’s definitely an addiction so to speak. When you have that bug to the degree that I have it and my daughter does too, it’s—
Jon: —it's in your blood.
Dr. Berman: It’s in your blood. You can't not have horses. It's your peace of mind. I go out there for my sanity.
Jon: I grew up on a farm in Nebraska and my dad would not let us get a horse because he said you had to feed it all the time. Instead he got a four-wheel drive pickup, which there’s logic to it from a utilitarian perspective. But at any rate, back on track on your medical. You picked urology?
Dr. Berman: Yes.
Jon: How did you pick that subset of medicine?
Dr. Berman: I knew that I wanted to do a surgical subspecialty and again, I had been exposed to it from my father, so I went into medical school thinking that I wanted to do general surgery, something surgical, and on our third-year rotations they assign you electives. You could choose, but I didn't get any of the ones that I chose, like plastic surgery or ENT, whatever the good ones were I didn't get, and I got a urology and I was like, “Oh God, what is this?” I did the elective and it just so happened that one of the attendings, who ended up being one of my mentors, happened to be super passionate about for one, urology, but also teaching and medical students and embracing them and giving them projects. The other rotations would sort of tolerate you and be like these ones are here now. They kind of would shuffle you around and nod but not really go out of their way. You were more of a responsibility than something that they were enjoying.
Jon: —and wanted to nourish.
Dr. Berman: And nourish. So it was just a fluke that he happened to be there and he was like that. So there were projects that I started and continued through the course of the year that kept me coming back there. And then it became something that I enjoyed and that I appreciated. It is a surgical subspecialty and at that time, there were very few women in it.
Jon: What percent are there of women versus men?
Dr. Berman: Well now it's pretty much equal. But then it was not. It was predominantly men. There were very few women that were board certified or that were wanting to go into it, but now they need women for female urology. It’s a whole field and they want women, but then there were a few, and I felt that there was a need, and it is a surgical subspecialty, and people are generally healthy. It's not life or death. I had just come off a general surgery which was exciting but extremely grueling and depressing. And the higher you got, the higher you ascended and ranked in terms of seniority in the hospital, the worse life got.
Jon: Worst cases, yeah.
Dr. Berman: But in urology, the higher seniority you got, the better. Those guys were out playing golf and they had people in the hospital taking calls. So it was different. It's not the cowboy shock trauma kind of fraternal thing. Although there's a lot of kidney trauma, bladder trauma, cancer, and congenital abnormalities of the genital urinary tract, there's a lot of complicated and serious surgery, but predominantly the patients are healthy. They have an acute problem that needs to be corrected. You fix it, they get better, and I like that.
Jon: You also have a focus on women's sexual health. Tell me about that journey.
Dr. Berman: Sexual health in general, when I was rotating in urology as a third year medical student, that mentor happened to be Irwin Goldstein, whose whole practice was devoted to male sexual health and male ED. He was a pioneer in that area in terms of the pharmacological therapy, in terms of the surgical therapy, the implants they were doing back then, and he was doing penal revascularizations for seizures in young men that had injuries and whatnot, so it was in a pioneering moment for sexual health. So, I got interested in that, and then when I was doing my residency, Viagra got approved right then at 1998. Viagra was getting approved for men, and that was groundbreaking. There was a lot of interest and a lot of media attention surrounding that, and I did my residency at University of Maryland and we were one of the primary centers doing those clinical studies. So there was a lot of interest, a lot of media, a lot of attention, a lot of focus asking questions about—
Jon: —what is it?
Dr. Berman: Right. So as awareness increased about Viagra, women started pouring into the clinic asking, “Well, what about me?” or “What about this?” or ”My husband wants to have it and I don't,” and this plethora of women inundating urology. And they were like, “Whoa, what do we do at these women? We’re men. Jennifer, deal with them.” I recognized at that point that there was a disparity from how we address male and female sexual issues, that there wasn't really a medical focus even from the gynecological side. And so that's how I went about trying to pioneer that area as a urologist. I took a very male oriented approach at first because that's all I knew. I did this here and I'll do whatever here. We've got blood vessels and above we’ve got nerves, and I tried to the best that I could from a physiologic standpoint, and then from there we had to add hormones and from there we added the brain and from there we added the relationships and all these other things that are now sort of custom in practice.
Jon: Now you are one of the leaders in the field in the sense of one of the early ones to start in it. Do you have competition now? I mean, are there others in the field?
Dr. Berman: There are so many now. Back then there were very few that were doing this kind of work and certainly not in a medical setting, much less an academic setting, and now there are many people. Even just routine gynecology. This was the goal that primary care doctors, therapists, gynecologists were all kind of incorporating aspects of this into their practice. So there are a lot of people that are not necessarily specializing in it, but that are addressing the issues, that have awareness and then have the ability to treat for the most part. The problem is for women, there are not many FDA approved treatments. It's kind of a complicated, subjective issue that isn't easily addressed with a medication so that's the challenge.
Jon: I want to transition now, I'll come back to this, but I want to transition to your TV appearances. Just the list that I've compiled, you've appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN and Conan O'Brien.
Dr. Berman: And many more because back then, like I said, when Viagra was becoming approved, I was working with my sister who's a therapist. We were the only ones doing this. There probably isn't a show other than Ellen, I've never done Ellen, but she has some issues about sex, like nobody talks really about it on her show, that's the one that we have never done, and other late nights. I don't think I've done Jimmy Kimmel or Fallon or those late night shows, but every daytime talk show on market, we've done, I've done. And that's based on one thing led to another thing and it kind of snowballed.
Jon: Do you have an agent that books this or is it just referral from the producers that have seen you?
Dr. Berman: Those were all self-referred. I mean I have an agent and a manager, but I'm not an actress, so they're not booking auditions and things like that, and a publicist. I've written some books and we've had publicists associated with that and then they would book things, but I never really had to go out and proactively seek these opportunities. I get asked a lot by doctors, “How do you do that? I want to get into media. How do you do it?” And it just happened. I didn't try. If I had to try to tell somebody what to do now, you’d need to have a publicist, not an agent but a PR person that has a pitch. You have to look a certain way and have some sort of gimmick edge, some idea or issue that's compelling that fits into a timetable of what they're doing. And then also connections; knowing somebody who knows somebody who knows the producer of this and then cross your fingers and hope.
Jon: Now do you have a pre-appearance ritual that you go through?
Dr. Berman: No. I am a professional guest, like I can do that with my eyes closed and just go with it. When I have to and if, and I've had to because my sister and I had a show called Berman and Berman and we hosted that, and then on The Doctors I was a co-host, so I didn't really have to carry it. I could just do my thing. So when I can just do my little thing it’s very easy for me. If I have to carry it and do it, and this is the next stage of my career is the expectation, and get to have my own show, which I have mixed feelings about because that's a whole another level of responsibility, of headspace, preparation, and also ability. Even learning how to read the teleprompter without—
Jon: Without looking like you’re reading it.
Dr. Berman: I had to learn how to do that. So on The Doctors we would do different pickups, intros in and intros out, integrations about products where we’d have to read something, and that was a skill set that you have to learn. The ritual would be preparing when there is preparing to do, reading the information and content and having mastery of the information there is. If there's a script, read it, try and get it. Oftentimes they don't want to tell you what the questions are before but for The Doctors, I knew what the script was and knowing the information, having some semblance of—
Jon: —of what was going?
Dr. Berman: —what you’re going to say, and then the biggest challenges for me is if it's live. If it’s taped, it doesn't matter. You can make mistakes, you can stutter, they will cut it and edit it. If it’s live, then it’s a whole another—
Jon: Did I tell you this is live?
Dr. Berman: Maybe. If it was radio and there’s no camera. But the live thing, like with Good Morning America and those shows or even Conan is live to tape. So it’s a live audience. You're not really allowed to mess up in that either, even though it's not live, live, it kind of is live. So those are a higher level of –
Jon: I know this is going to be like asking you, which is your favorite child, but which was your most fun show?
Dr. Berman: I think the Conan ones were probably the most fun for sure. and out of my comfort zone and interesting. And then also having a live audience and there were a lot of men and it was male oriented and then there were celebrities on there, so that was probably the most fun. Oprah was back then, but that's going back in time, that was like a big deal. It still is. And that was amazing too; I wouldn't say it was fun. And Good Morning America ended up being fun because I would do those a lot, but it wasn't in the beginning. I would have panic attacks, literally. Like palpitations, the blood running out of my lips, and I’d do those with my sister and she'd see me starting to sweat and then she would start and then within a minute and a half—
Jon: —you kind of calmed down.
Dr. Berman: —I could come in. But the first like minute is like dying.
Jon: For the listeners, many of the Conan appearances are on YouTube, and I would highly recommend them because you taught Conan to do male Kegel exercises.
Dr. Berman: We taught him how to do male Kegel exercises, we taught him where the g spot is, we taught him about a lot of things.
Jon: You taught him about the jade egg.
Dr. Berman: The jade egg for improving pelvic floor. I taught him about Foria, which is a cannabis product to enhance sexual pleasure in women.
Jon: Did you come up with the concepts or was it the producer or you talking to the Conan producers?
Dr. Berman: I talked a lot to the producers and they wanted to know what content. They would learn things on their own and ask me, or I would say things to them and then there was a pre determination.
Jon: And then you stimulated him, my favorite, with the Womanizer?
Dr. Berman: Yeah. He learned about the Womanizer, which is not really a vibrator, but an erotic toy for women, and we used that on him.
Jon: Which show – intuitively I think I know – which show has had the most impact on your career?
Dr. Berman: I guess those shows that are most recognized and people see. I think the biggest one on my career would probably be co-hosting The Doctors because that became a platform for brands. Then there would be large brands that wanted to align with me based on that platform, as seen on The Doctors or whatever else. So it would be with Kimberly Clark, Johnson and Johnson, Ocean Spray, so that platform led to larger brand spokesperson advocacy opportunities, if we're talking about career.
Jon: How long were you on The Doctors?
Dr. Berman: For four seasons. I've always been on as an intermittent expert but like a recurring every week having to go in there, about four years. I think it's still going. The ratings aren't so great.
Jon: I believe it is still going because I Googled it last night.
Dr. Berman: You did, and I think Dr. Phil is kind of funding it along, but it definitely was a really good learning experience for me about being an on-air host and navigating all that and being able to co-host because I'm used to just talking. Like when somebody asks a question, I answer it and there's nobody else talking, but now there’s a question and then there's three other people talking and you have to learn how to—
Jon: —how to manipulate that.
Dr. Berman: Yeah.
Jon: Have you always been comfortable in front of a camera or has that been a learned thing?
Dr. Berman: I didn’t know that I was comfortable or not comfortable, I just did it. From the beginning, when I said those studies were going on and the press was showing up at the hospital wanting to speak to the clinicians and they kind of threw out there and said to talk to them, I just went out and talked. I guess I looked okay, and then they were like, “Oh, she’s good. Let's have her come back,” and then that led to those interviews when I was a resident, not having slept, in my scrubs, I just went and that led to CNN, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper, and Larry King, all just like, who's this woman talking about sex and so it was sort of a novelty. Then with my sister, we were in Boston at the time, we were like the mini Dr. Ruth's and the Viagra Twins. There was this novelty of these two sisters talking about sex.
Jon: And I want to turn to the books with your sister in a second. Do you find that talking to men about sex is difficult for the guy? I mean, you clearly don't have a problem with talking, but is it difficult for most men to be comfortable talking about it?
Dr. Berman: When I was practicing as a urologist and a fellow, a little bit. Older, much older men, and then very young men were put off a little bit, but otherwise it was a clinic and you’re the doctor, you’re wearing a white coat. This was University of Maryland, the urology clinic, they were happy to have a doctor. Now, I think if they're uncomfortable, they don't really let it on that much. I think more in personal relationships, it's probably the misconception that because I specialize in this, that I have some innate abilities or talents or knowledge beyond most, which isn't the case.
Jon: I was going to ask that on the personal side. Is it hard for men you know as friends to talk about this? Because most guys don't even talk to the other guys about it, but let alone to talk to a woman about, what you do.
Dr. Berman: They do. However it plays out, once you sort of open up those doors—I think it just has to do with my level of comfort. People always ask are they intimidated by you or whatever. I don't know. I know that it always comes up, and it's annoying that feeling of that I have some hidden abilities or that there’s this—
Jon: —magic bullet somewhere
Dr. Berman: —or that I am a sexual what do they call those? Like a surrogate that has all these skills and things. But for the most part, I think that men and women are pretty open about having those discussions and it's becoming more timely. There's less of a stigma associated with it.
Jon: So you’re an author. You've written at least two books that I was able to find. They're both with your sister. The first one I have on my list was a New York Times best seller For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life. How did you come up with the idea?
Dr. Berman: So that book For Women Only: Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction and Reclaiming Your Sex Life, I was at Boston University in the crux of all of these things going on. I had finished my residency and now was doing research in Boston, and we had an opportunity to, or a desire to, put it all together – the research and everything that we were doing. And my sister had finished her PhD with this woman named Helen Fisher, who is an author who had written the anatomy of love and mating in captivity; she was an anthropologist. So Helen Fisher had a literary agent named Binky Urban who was like the Devil Wears Prada agent at ICM; she may still be. She was the literary agent of nonfiction. And because of Helen Fisher and how my sister had trained under her, we got to Binky, and Binky saw the possibility, and we became like her little minions. And she went out, pitched, and we got book offers, and big ones, so that's how that happened. And then she arranged with Simon and Schuster, I think, and they had a public PR department within that, but Binky got another publicist, then they got them to hire another PR firm. What were their names? But those are the ones that got us on Oprah and People Magazine and that's how it became a best seller. Hilsinger Mendelson, that's who they were. And I think her name was Lippe Taylor, I don’t remember, but whoever the publicist was had the connection at Oprah and just hounded, hounded, hounded, hounded, and we got in there.
Jon: Your sister's name is Laura Berman.
Dr. Berman: Yes.
Jon: She's a relationship therapist. How did it happen at both daughters ended up in this field?
Dr. Berman: That's a good question. So she's a sex therapist, relationship therapist. I don't know exactly; however, you know with my father being a colorectal surgeon and there was a lot of open and frank discussion about anatomy and body parts and sexuality and—
Jon: —I only imagine Thanksgiving dinner was an interesting conversation.
Dr. Berman: —and my dad was very provocative and sort of pushing people's comfort zones and talking about subjects that people didn't want to talk about. That was normal for us. So that probably is how.
Jon: Your second book, I want to hit that. It's Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied Woman, 10 Keys to Unlocking Ultimate Pleasure, and it was based or centered around a national woman's sexual satisfaction survey.
Dr. Berman: Right. So we had created the survey with Rand, which that was the whole fun of that book, was working with Rand to create a validated survey, learning how to do that through the phone and randomize who the people were, and that was the process of that book and identifying the similar characteristics of women who were happy and satisfied. What do they have in common?
Jon: What's the top three?
Dr. Berman: It remains the top three that they you’re happy with your sleep, happy with your overall general self-esteem and happiness with yourself, and happiness and satisfaction with your partner.
Jon: Now having been a published author of two successful books, what's your takeaway lesson?
Dr. Berman: I don't like writing books. I really hate it. I feel like I need to and there are ideas that I want to get out. But the process of writing, for anybody who has the idea that they want to write a book, it's agony, for me at least. Torture. Because you have to be sitting for long periods of time and looking at a huge mountain and then you're one step in and that’s every day. It's a unique field for writers, a very solitary kind of confining, isolated, depressing. Because I’m a big picture person, and I want to delegate. I don't want to do the writing, so we had actually a co-author. She wasn't a blind, what do they call it?
Dr. Berman: Ghostwriter, because I wasn't going to hide it. We need her and her name's Elizabeth Bumiller and she went on to be the White House Correspondent and had a really big career, not because of our book, but she was very talented.
Jon: Well how do you know it wasn’t because of your book?
Dr. Berman: Maybe it was. So I could dictate to her and she would ask questions and I would just talk, and then she would put it in some sort of context, and then the editor, this is what I realized too, nobody gives them credit. The real writers, the really gifted writers are the editors. Maybe they're not the most creative, but I don't know why they're not writing because they're the best. She could take whatever and turn it exactly my voice and the exact same way, the way that it flows and the arc. It was amazing. So editors, good editors are very, very talented.
Jon: So even though you don't have any plans to write another – even though it's painful to write books – do you have any plans to write anything else?
Dr. Berman: I don't have any plans, but I would, and I will. I have lots of ideas for them, but I really would need a person who can take the ideas, organize them, and give birth to them in a way. Because I would have to quit everything; it's a full time job to really do it, if you're writing. There's a woman named Kristi Funk who is a breast surgeon. She was the one that operated on Angelina Jolie and she has a really busy practice and she just wrote a new book that’s like the gold standard for breasts and it was a huge project for her to undertake and she has triplets.
Dr. Berman: They’re like tweens now and it just is a lot.
Jon: Would the starting spot to your path to celebrity be Viagra?
Dr. Berman: I think the starting path to my—
Jon: —It's an odd way to ask that question.
Dr. Berman: —my celebrity start was just chance. Being in the right place at the right time of a change in culture. There was something going on in America at that time with awareness, and I was in Baltimore, Maryland in a little university setting and got in front of a camera, not by choice, by default, and then that sort of snowballed.
Jon: And have you had help with your brand or has this been all you?
Dr. Berman: I've had no help with my brand, and I really need help with my brand, even as I get older. Because I'm realizing that as social media has expanded and as there's more and more of these people and these things, the messaging is getting more diluted and people are getting confused. I feel like I have a platform and years of wisdom and experience that needs to be encapsulated and delivered, in terms of not only information and not only education, but also developing products, books that I don't like writing but that need to be written, and things like that.
Jon: What advice would you have to young doctors who are starting out?
Dr. Berman: It's very hard. I think this new age of doctors is going to be…. Because medicine has changed so much, the people going into medicine are going to have to be better in terms of an entrepreneurial spirit. And with telemedicine, robotics, and technology, the next generation of us is going to be business and tech savvy. They're going to be able to come out of practice and there is going to be social media and marketing. You can't just finish residency and then put a shingle up anymore, which is what we did. You just were a doctor; you were in the yellow pages. Now, these guys that have been in practice the for decades, the real heroes of plastic surgery, are getting taken out by the young guy coming out that has the bots and the marketing there regardless of their experience or their ability. So I think that the advice is to learn about social media, learn about marketing, because you can't just rely on your medical degree anymore. You have to be able to reach the consumer. And patients are now consumers – are not just patients. So it's a different business.
Jon: You have a large social media following. Do you have favorite platform?
Dr. Berman: I don't really. Instagram is easier for me. What I need really as a doctor myself and all these other doctors need is a social media person and you need a search engine optimization website person and you need a marketing and branding person and you need a publicist. So now if you need all those things, imagine, your budget that you need per month to manage all that. So that budget in the 30,000 range to really do it, then how many patients do you have to be seeing? Certainly not managed care, so it's a whole different ballgame. None of the social media venues really appeal to me, but I do them. Instagram is really easy and I have no idea what I'm doing, I just post whatever. I need a social media person to kind of tell me and direct me to do this and do that. So again, I've been lucky that I can just sort of exist, and I've maintained a status quo but now I'm getting old. I'm in my fifties, I'm only going to be able to be in front of the camera for so long. Maybe I’ll get Alzheimer's, who knows, but my brain is still good. I'm still physically in shape and I feel there's a window of time that should be like my pièce de résistance, that I have to figure out what that next thing is going to be.
Jon: Have you seen in your practice, the impact of social media on women's self-image?
Dr. Berman: Yeah, totally. Especially about their genitals, the way things look down there, and changing the way they look. 100% social media has impacted not only body image and self-esteem, what's aesthetically pretty or not, but also even in the genital area; how things should look and should see, social media has impacted that.
Jon: How would a woman decide what they should look like?
Dr. Berman: Comparing because based on ideals that aren't real—media, images and porn and things that are—
Jon: —just not real.
Dr. Berman: —idealized, altered or considered attractive based on what they perceive men are looking at or are wanting out of them. And men unfortunately, and not so much men, but younger boys becoming men are getting skewed about what's normal as well.
Jon: Just by what they’re seeing on social media.
Dr. Berman: And also porn because it's so accessible right now that their brains are getting wired in an altered way from back in the day when you maybe had a Playboy and looked at a magazine. It’s now so much so fast that it's changing the pathways of arousal in boys and girls, for that matter.
Jon: Do you see that changing anytime soon?
Dr. Berman: It's getting worse. We'll see the impact; we are seeing the impact. Everything that's going on with the Me Too movement is repercussions of that. These are the older guys that weren't in the midst of all this and look at what's happening to them, so we’re going to see. And it's sort of on the upside of all that happening, these younger ones that are coming, there are boundaries for them now before it gets out of control. A little bit of Harvey Weinstein – put those on steroids. That's what these guys would and could become. But we've sort of put a fence around them hopefully that has it contained and with boundaries, awareness, education, and limits that the pendulum will kind of swing back hopefully.
Jon: Speaking for men who haven't done that, men know what's appropriate and what's not appropriate. Whether they follow what they know is a whole different issue and clearly—
Dr. Berman: Well they may not know, but they don't care. Or they know, but the rules don't apply to them. And I saw that because my daughter was in boarding school for a year back in Connecticut and I had this epiphany when it starts. It starts in probably high school. In high school, boys are starting to learn what they can do, what they can't do, what they can get away with, what they can't, what girls will allow, what they won’t. And in these elite boarding schools in particular, in private schools too, especially for athletes – scholars and athletes – there is this gross turning a blind eye to bad behavior. Behavior that crosses the line a little bit. And so my daughter, just in the one year, there were several instances that impacted her and her friends, and I was shocked and appalled at how the administration handled it.
Jon: Is this pre-Me Too or post-Me Too?
Dr. Berman: Beginning in the midst of it. This was a year and a half to two years ago. We were in the throes of it. I think Kevin Spacey was about to get it. Harvey, they were coming out. So this is going on out in the world but in the confines of the private institution, the rules and laws that apply to the outside world don't apply in there. And that's when they're learning “this is what I can get away with, this is what I can't. This is what these girls are allowing me to do, this is what they're not.” And if they get away with it in high school, which most of them do, a thing here and a thing there, by the time they get into college, then it takes another stage, then it would push it a little bit more and everybody keeps on turning while he's going to Yale so the girls are apart of it too. I feel like we women are equally as responsible as the administration and as the boys because we're sort of turning a blind eye. So, I think that that there's a heightened level of awareness now. And yes, they know right from wrong, but they are enabled and allowed and—
Jon: Especially the athletes.
Dr. Berman: —sort of protected.
Jon: Shifting gears again, do you consider yourself to be an influencer?
Dr. Berman: I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a social media influencer because I haven't used my social media to say, “Do this, do that, this is this, this is that,” but I'm an influencer from the standpoint of my voice and that when I have opinions and when I talk publicly on camera or off camera, that people hear me, believe what I say. I've managed to maintain my credibility. I haven't gone off and become the poster child for Viagra. I've remained impartial as an expert, an advocate, and an activist.
Jon: Do you see both men and women?
Dr. Berman: I see predominantly women now but men in the context of the relationship of women, like the partners or boyfriends of my patients and other men that happen to come in, but I don't have a huge male practice.
Jon: What are some of the common misperceptions, and I'm going to ask it both ways, that women have about women's sexual health or sexual health?
Dr. Berman: I'm not sure if it's misconceptions, but that women sometimes don’t…. I think it's changing now and it's partly generational. But there was a time where everything was up to the man, what he wants, or that it was very dependent that his satisfaction is based on him doing or not doing something or him being or not being something. The responsibility for your own sexual health, satisfaction, and enjoyment – that was something that women didn't really grab onto. And that's changing, especially with these millennials coming in. They've got that covered. They're very empowered, entitled, fluid, and all that stuff. And I think for the male side, men feeling that pressure in terms of orgasm, which then leads to women faking orgasms, that if she's not doing this or doing that then I'm not pleasing her or that I'm not good or that I need to find somebody else who I can, that sort of thing. It's usually just a matter of education and communication.
Jon: Shifting gears again, I want to talk about your research. I saw that you have contributed to it. I don't know if this was the marketing term but a weed tampon
Dr. Berman: That was with a company called Foria, which was the cannabis oil that is a—
Dr. Berman: It’s CBD and THC. It wasn't a tampon. They then developed a suppository with CBD, THC based, for menstrual cramps.
Jon: How did it work? Does it work really well?
Dr. Berman: Yeah. It relaxes smooth muscles, so it helps with cramps, increases blood flow.
Jon: What else is on your plate? What's going forward for you in the future?
Dr. Berman: Well, I just got this in the mail. We were talking about men, not to be intimidating or anything, we were talking about that. This is a male masturbator called—
Jon: —do companies send you these things?
Dr. Berman: They send me these things. And I haven't been in the male erotic toy space ever, haven't been in the erotic toy space period. But this is the fleshlight and this is the future of virtual sex. This is like some Pentagon/NASA level silicone flesh-like material that is like human skin. And then in there, in the fleshlight, you put your penis in there. So in the future, I want to be developing products – not necessarily this one – but working to develop products. I have a TV show that I'm working on with one of the executive producers from Bravo, two shows actually. So hopefully those will come to fruition.
Jon: Tell us the names of your books again.
Dr. Berman: The books that I have?
Dr. Berman: For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction and Reclaiming Your Sex Life, a long title, and the other one is Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied.
Jon: And both are available on Amazon?
Dr. Berman: Yes.
Jon: How can people find you on the Internet?
Dr. Berman: People can find me by Googling Dr. Jennifer Berman. My website is bermansexualhealth.com and this is the website in progress. I've hired by new SEO guy who’s your friend Isaac to help me optimize the website and get it more user friendly, so I'm in the process of doing that. And my social media is @jenbermanmd.
Jon: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
Dr. Berman: Likewise. Thank you for having me.
The Creative Influencer is a weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. The podcast is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California. Jon interviews influencers, creatives, and the professionals who work with them.
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