A Bossypants Top 10 List

by Kat on June 13, 2011 · 28 comments

in Tina Fey Hates Sex Workers

When I bought Tina Fey’s book, the elderly parking attendant at Powell’s saw me carrying it and his face lit up. He gushed that he had heard so many great things and couldn’t wait to read it himself. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had only invested the $27 with the intention of being offended and that I don’t like her because she doesn’t like me. I took one for the team and read Bossypants. I laughed out loud, I got to know as much of Ms. Fey as she would allow, and I made this list. I present you with Bossypants sex workery references, in order of the benign to horribly offensive.

10. On the subject of improv: “You may have a point to make about the health care system in America, but you’ll find out that you need to present that idea through a legally blind bus driver character or as an exotic dancer whose boobs are running for mayor. (I would like to see that sketch, actually.)” When Bubbles sent me this quote a few months ago, we had most of a sketch worked out after a few emails. I can’t remember the plot anymore, but it involved Beau Breedlove.

9. When describing the couple next-door on a cruise: “…the wife wears a spangly American-flag bikini, leading me to believe she is a retired stripper.” This is most likely accurate, as owning one of those is a requisite for any stripper who has ever had to work Fleet Week, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veteran’s Day or in the state of Texas.

8. In response to a detractor on PerezHilton.com: “You know who does have a funny bone in her body? Your mom every night for a dollar.” A yo’ momma diss. Seems harmless enough, what the hey.

7. “If you don’t have a good body, you’d better starve the body you have down to a neutral shape, then bolt on some breast implants, replace your teeth, dye your skin orange, inject your lips, sew on some hair, and call yourself Playmate of the Year.” This is the pervasive beauty strategy (recipe for success) for many of my coworkers, so I see what she’s saying. But, it’s not the first time the bunnies have been the tail of her jokes. In fact, there’s a twin Playboy models incest jab later in the book.

6. “The borderline-homeless guys were sneaking women up to their rooms, which only goes to show that women continue to corner the market on low gag reflex.” This is from the chapter about the YMCA where Tina worked in Chicago. I used to work at a strip club below a weekly hotel, and the only women who ventured upstairs were streetwalkers. Blowjobs for not enough money, yuk it up. If this is just about civilian women, well, it’s still slut-shaming. They have nation-wide marches now in order for women to have the freedom to have relations with borderline-homeless men if they feel like it. (Did I miss my chance to insert a joke about “eating at the ‘Y’”?)

5. “‘The Days Are Long and the Years Are Short’ –Stay-at-Home Moms and Sex Workers” I was like, why are you so obsessed with us?

4. On the disappointment of Italian rum cake at Greek children’s birthday parties: “I imagine it’s like being at a bachelor party only to find that the stripper has overdosed in the bathroom.” The only time the incessant bachelor party/stripper death scenario was actually funny was on Arrested Development. I wish this joke would die inside a giant cake in an isolated locale so nobody could discover it.

3. “Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue.” I thought that reading the book would shed some light on this quote after I saw it in context, but I’m still confused. She has to be talking about the eBay virginity auction thing, right?

2. On unpleasant-smelling tap water: “How can I describe it? –if you boiled ten thousand eggs in a prostitute’s bathwater.”

1. From a facetious poem chapter titled, “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter”: “May she be beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.” Yeah, it’s always those weathered, chain-smoking seven year-olds who let their roots grow out too long who deserve to be molested… and then grow up to become 30 Rock fodder.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

story story June 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

so i assume you have already contacted tina fey’s agent to ask for an interview. if you haven’t yet, you definitely should. i’m 100% serious. and then tell us what you hear back.

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Bettie Bettie June 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

This broad needs a hug. I want to meet her so she can love me (which she will, because I am lovable) and then freak out when I spring it on her that I give spankings for a living after I tried to be a dancer and wasn’t cut out for it but still happen to be an awesome human being who’s not damaged or dense.

Tina, damn. That hatred must be eating you up inside.

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Charlotte Shane Charlotte Shane June 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

YES to irresistible you being the ambassador. Actually, I’d like to read an interview with you playing Good Cop and Kat playing Bad Cop and TF quickly breaking down and admitting the error of her ways. You could even wear Leg Avenue cop outfits during. Tina would love that.

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Kat Kat June 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Leg Avenue, pffft. I wear “Lawful Entry” by Escanté.

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Betty Blac July 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I heart that you made that distinction :)

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Bettie Bettie June 19, 2011 at 5:57 am

I just looked up the Leg Avenue costume, and it looks like a Sheriff costume more than anything. I would like to wear that and come in after Kat’s already begun interviewing her. It’ll be like someone higher up on the chain of command wants her to answer for her crimes as well…I can just hear her heart pumping!

I hope I can wear my thigh high boots though. She’ll never take us seriously if neither of is wearing thigh high boots.

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Kat Kat June 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

You can show up in a Female Body Inspector shirt and announce that the case is now in Federal jurisdiction.

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Jen June 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Oh, I think you misunderstand Ms. Fey. She is not shaming women who like sex. She’s really cool with women who like sex. She’s shaming women who exploit women’s sexuality for personal profit. And you know, you can hardly blame her.
So, as long as you’re not doing that I wouldn’t take her comments personally.

Oh.
Wait.
I see why you’re all having a tantrum over this.
Oh well.

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Coco R. July 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

LOL cuz us bitches are prone to tantrums and nagging. LOL PMS AND ALL THAT.

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V C August 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Any woman should be as free to “exploit” her own body as much as do anything else she wants with it.

Women who marry for money hate sex (and now that society has legitimized doing that and even expects it, it’s become the norm). Women who have been married for a while often grow to loathe sex. But they stay married, for the security or the sheer habit of it. PLENTY of non-sex workers have sex for profit. And hate every minute of it. With no break from the same repellent face and body, no chance to have it over and done quickly then be back home to their “real” lives. Talk about trapped and self-loathing – it’s no wonder most women are bitter gender traitors with no sense of “sisterhood”.

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Elle June 29, 2011 at 3:22 am

Omg! Kat, you are hilarious! Tina Fey, not so much…dried up old cow.
And Leg Avenue!!!! Lol

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Caroline June 29, 2011 at 6:15 am

While I love your blog, I have to say that I think a lot of these examples are either blown out of proportion or misrepresented. Fey may make some off-colour jokes about sex workers, but I don’t feel like she reserves a special corner of her psyche for bilous comments about them. Fey works in comedy, and as such it is her job to be funny. The second she starts monitoring her own political correctness, her bread and butter goes out the window. I’m not saying that her jokes re: sex workers are necessarily her funniest, but I do think you are taking this out of context. For every joke Fey makes about strippers, she makes ten more about Republicans, misogynists, smug yuppie mothers, etc.
The thing is, I’m sure there are a thousand male comedians who make jokes about sex workers who have evaded your attention.
Again, I’m not trying to be a douche here. Nobody likes it when their particular minority group is poked fun at. For example, I’m Irish (Not American-Irish: I was born and bred here) and my nationality is constantly portrayed in American media as being one characterised by violence, alcoholism and sexual abuse. However, I think taking offense to these things is profoundly hypocritical, as long as I continue to laugh at other groups of people being laughed at. It’s comedy, not politics.
Again, let me say again, I really love your site. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have taken the time to construct this arguement.

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Lauren July 30, 2013 at 1:23 am

The problem is that Tina Fey identifies as a gender and sex-positive feminist. Yes, she’s also a comedian, but making jokes that target sex workers is hypocritical.

It would be like Gandhi making cutting remarks about dirty hippies or asylum seekers on hunger strike.

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leilajane July 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm

“it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.”

She’s not talking about physical damage! She’s saying that adults who take advantage of kids tend to target those who are troubled and isolated, because they feel confident that they’ll be able to get away with it. This has nothing to do with sex work, or with the idea that anyone deserves to be molested.

And regarding #3, I think she’s kind of talking about the madonna/whore complex, no? I don’t know if a lot of clients actually have that problem, but I don’t think suggesting that they do is offensive to sex workers.

Really, #4 is the only one that seems offensive to me.

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randy August 27, 2011 at 9:49 am

@leilajane

No, I dont think #3 is madonna/whore. That’s a very romantic/erotic idea, that men want a “pure” girl type of prostitute. I think it’s more a play on the desire to avoid STD’s, under the assumption that prostitutes have more likelihood of infection the more experienced they are. It’s only true in some ways and some prostitutes who do lots of business are more cautious than some “respectable” women who don’t screw much but when they do they take no precautions.
We see in some sex tourism how younger and younger girls can sometimes be used for clients who want someone guaranteed to be disease free. I won’t get into the hype and hypocrisy about that issue, just pointing out the joke’s meaning.
politicians are desirable without experience…because none of them know how to do anything…or because we all hate politicians we know since they corrupt, while the new guy always seems hopey/changey.

Nevertheless, tina fey is a total prude, rather than anti-PC, when it comes to sex.
The closest she ever came to making fun of prudes was sarah palin’s control of her daughter. That’s it.

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Lucy January 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I do agree with some of your points, I do want to point out that a few of them seem a little stretched or misinterpreted. While number #6 has an obvious hint at oral sex, it certainly sounds like much more of a jab at the borderline-homeless men than the women. As far as #1 goes, I’m sorry, but I disagree with you completely. Not only is it it not related to sex workers in the slightest, it’s also true. Child molesters and pedophiles, and rapists in general, are more likely to go after a victim type. They find children that are possibly damaged, have low self-esteem, and are quiet, because it’s easier to prey on them and get those children to trust you. It’s also easier to keep them quiet. That’s what she’s talking about. I feel like suggesting that she’s talking at all about “sluts” or sex workers or anyone deserving to be molested is definitely a misinterpretation of her quote.

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Maple March 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Actually I don’t think Tina HATES them because I read this quote a couple of days ago
“I am obsessed with things like strippers and Playboy Playmates. I’m obsessed with portraying that as how grim I think it is. My friend Stephnie Weir did the best version of a sketch that I was always figuring out how to do. She did it perfectly, playing a stripper at a bachelor party who had to bring her kid because the babysitter fell through. The discomfort of that really makes me laugh.”

So I think she just finds them funny. (Like how children like fart jokes)

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Charlotte Shane Charlotte Shane March 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

“how grim it is” ….like a fart?

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eagerbeaver March 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

It’s interesting to see how people struggle with the shame of sex and the pleasure of sex. so they compartmentalize:
“I’m going to say that Tina is pro-sex (because a modern feminist should be and sex is “good”) but at the same time I’m going to give her a pass and even agree that sex for money is bad”.

The ONLY person who can take that position without being a hypocrite and a sex hater is a kind of weirdly misguided anti capitalist. Who blames not only the factory owner for exploiting the workers, but the workers for making any money at all.
But I don’t think there’s a single person who says whoring for money is evil, while also saying that working a cushy office job for money is evil, or teaching is evil, or nursing for money is evil. Not one.
Hypocrites, learn to see yourselves better. Not likely, though.

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V C August 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Feminists routinely hate sex workers.

Russell Brand made ridiculously offensive and inaccurate comments about people with hep C (the usual myth-perpetuating BS about it being an STD when in fact in nearly every instance it’s injection/intravenous related). This, of course, was after building up his career bragging about being a former IV abusing junkie. And even after that plus his all too typical “I’ve slept with thousands of women, I’m a stud” spiel he gets married to Katy Perry, only to post a pic without her knowledge of her sleeping without makeup (a clean face, horrors!) then eventually dumps her because she DID turn out to be a real person who isn’t 24/7 in full makeup (or a leather catsuit, in a sex swing, holding a pizza, wearing a smile, and not botching his perfect fantasy with all that “talking”). And yet the world continues to believe he’s funny. There seems to be no shortage of movie roles or TV spots for him.

But yes, feminists do hate sex workers, regardless of their leanings. Religious people hate sex workers, despite one of the passages in the Bible that stands out as being the most significant being Jesus telling the people stoning the woman for being promiscuous to stop and consider their own moral inventory instead. Men hate sex workers. Conservatives and liberals hate sex workers in equal measure. In short, EVERYONE hates sex workers. We are the thing that literally everyone can agree on.

Sure, you can dump on people weaker than you, but eventually the PC machine will shame you for saying “retarded”, you’ll go to jail for abusing the animals or the elderly, and you’ll even be a little more embarrassed at parties after making fun of the homeless when a touching documentary or movie or news story about the plight of the homeless comes out. But sex workers? Nah, nobody gives a crap about sex workers. Everybody got their rotten tomatoes ready? We’ve got plenty for everyone to throw, just good clean family fun everyone can enjoy.

And women, while not being alone in their hatred of us, are unique in that their own insecurity is often tied into it. They blame US for their wandering husbands, rather than rationally blaming their wandering husbands. I had a woman find a text message from her husband to me on his phone, then start blowing my phone up, leaving messages with the usual “whore” and “slut” BS, messages about “STDs” (never mind I don’t provide full service, so any STD would need to jump several feet to reach its intended target), admonishments to get “a real job” (without ever considering if she found herself without equity or a partner how easily she could support herself during a recession where the erosion of real job prospects that provide sufficient income has dwindled to a trickle), deep voiced growly threats to “stay away from my husband”, etc etc etc. I blocked her after the first round of texts, then after a month cleared off a large block of previously blocked numbers, forgetting the details of everyone including her who had been in the block, but figuring whoever all these people were enough time had passed to free up space. Only to have her, within the first hour, STILL texting (or resuming) – this was 28 days or more later.

The “stay away from my husband” mentality is funny to us, because we have no intention of fouling up a simple provider/client relationship with getting involved with them on a personal level, and the logistics of staying or not staying away is one that’s determined by the client not us, when they and they alone decide to reach out and schedule, or reschedule, or not. But it’s not funny that this woman and another very similar one used their misplaced blame to spew the nastiest venom they could muster, along with in one case a litany of threats to turn me in. (In fact the second woman mentioned that she had already contacted LE with the name of my hotel – they replied to her that they were familiar with a notorious location – that they naturally assumed I was at because of its by-the-hour pimp and meth type crowd, so of course it was a foregone conclusion that any sex worker would be there. One-size-fits-all thinking, it never gets old. Luckily for me, while I was staying with that chain, I wasn’t in that location.)

Why on earth women think we’re their problem when we’re all just sitting around minding our lives while their husbands are the impetus to searching the web to seek us out is beyond me. But as long as we’re marginalized and criminalized it’s going to stay the same.

There’s a funny mentality in this country that “legal” and “right” are the same thing, something to do with the tendency of not actually thinking but letting someone else think for you. Note how the moral “wrongness” of pot is ebbing away at precisely the same speed that it’s becoming legalized in various states.

Personally I believe it will be a cold day in hell before we’re ever decriminalized and left simply to our own devices. There’s always an excuse – taxes are one of them. Never mind you can simply stay out of a person’s day to day business but expect a miscellaneous return to be filed, just like any home babysitter or dog walker or flea market vendor… No, the choices are always between meddlesome legalization (that leads right back to controlling patriarchal a-holes like Dennis Hof) or criminalization. Ever notice how few male PROVIDERS are ever arrested? Not only is it more fun to spend the day playing fake “client” to a string of naked girls that you then get to arrest (“playing gay” in a sting location is something nobody in the locker room at the precinct would ever let you forget), but you also get to take out your internalized outrage by punishing any female who had the chutzpah to think she could charge any man for the sex they deserve for free. Simply letting women be in control of doing what we want with the body we were born with? That’s only an option for men (even if they’re on a “reality” show like “Gigolos” where they’re openly looking into the camera and point blank claiming to charge people to have sex with them, while preening about and talking about things like the “support” of their families and accepting all the accolades – in a city where that sort of thing is definitely not legal, but hey let’s not split hairs now, they’re GUYS after all).

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Kate September 11, 2013 at 12:38 am

I don’t hate sex workers. I don’t know any personally (that I know of), but if I did I’d take their individual personalities into account as I do with everyone and decide whether or not they were cool. I don’t believe a person’s job should define them. Everyone has to pay bills…if a person enjoys his/her job as he/she is doing it then more power to him/her. If not, then that sucks and hopefully the person can find something they like someday.

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Eff September 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

If my husband bought the services of a sex worker, I wouldn’t be mad at her, I’d be mad at him. It’s simple logic. And the world’s oldest profession.
But by the same token, sex workers need to understand the history behind their professions. By doing so, they will understand present-day mentality. People will always look down on it – not because they can, or because they want to, but because of the kind of work it is. It is intimacy with many, many individuals on some level. It exposes you to bodily fluids and potential for disease. A sex worker’s body is public property. Think about the reputation that other forms of public property have: public swimming pools, public transportation….to name a few examples.
As public property, it will be the butt of many jokes. Though Fey does seem a bit bitter IMO.

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nina September 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm

you don’t hate me but you just compared my vagina to a public pool? really? get the fuck over yourself. my body is my property not public property. a sex worker, along with every other person on the planet has a right to say no. maybe the reason people don’t respect sex workers is because people think they are entitled to our sexual organs? maybe you should learn the definition of respect?

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Kate September 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

Eff, that’s a very rude and ignorant thing to say. And a horrible metaphor. Maybe you should do a Day in the Field to gain a better perspective. Until then, stop being so judgy.

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V C September 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

So you’re a “public swimming pool” if you’re FEMALE, I’m guessing, not male.

I never see the same kind of “eww ick” factor regarding stud muffin gigolos. Like the ones on that insipid TV show by the same name. Guys like Jon Mayer and Tiger Woods are walking petri dishes, but women can’t line up fast enough for their own crack at them.

HIV long ago transitioned to a disease spread more amongst black women than anyone else. Black working girls? No. Black girlfriends and wives. Of men who are on the “down low” on the side. See, unlike gay men, straight men who are lying about sleeping with other men are also dishonest with themselves about the need for safety. Kind of like how the women who get drunk and have one night stands and affairs are dishonest and sloppy about their behavior. Are we really going to pretend that no one cheats on their partners? That “monogamy” is really a thing nowhere but on paper? Really?

I have a friend who is a surgical tech who told me years ago about the 16 year old girl who had her leg AMPUTATED because her FIRST boyfriend, the FIRST man she’d ever slept with, gave her herpes. And while it’s a benign and common condition in the vast majority of people who have it (1 out of 5 women, including the “good girls”, have herpes, by the way), in this poor girl’s case it mutated in her system and required her entire leg be amputated. From her FIRST sexual encounter. So much for the “it takes a lot of people to make something ‘dirty’” theory. In the case of this girl and so many trusting black women, it took just ONE jerk to mess them up for life. Just ONE. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s how EVERY STD is spread. By the ONE person who gives it to you. It’s not a group effort.

And speaking of herpes, I love how NO ONE, literally NO ONE, gets routinely tested for it, despite it affecting 1 out of 5 people. It is not included on a basic STD screening panel. Yet 20% of people you see in bars and restaurants have herpes. Most people don’t even know that they have herpes, because the symptoms go unnoticed, so they knowingly go through life infecting one partner after the next. Meanwhile, is ANYONE saying “hey let’s discuss our STD status and get tested” when they date? No. People are just operating on the ASSUMPTION that whoever they date is “clean”. Probably because of the ASSUMPTION that that person isn’t a sex worker or guy on the down low, so therefore they’re squeaky “clean”. And you can see by the aggressive continued spread of STDs that that idiotic assumption isn’t, well, working out so well.

But by all means, place the blame of everything “dirty” at the feet of sex workers. Because sex is so “clean” everyplace else.

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sarah m September 28, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Since the dawn of time, sex workers have been working in the trade they’ve had since time dawned. They have sex with a lot of people, which, when you think about it, is an awful lot of people to have sex with. Fundamentally misunderstanding the meaning of the word public, I declare sex workers of the many, and the many, filthy. Fuck cooling down in the summer and getting around for cheap with minimal damage to the environment, the only ride I want to take is in my car/wife.

(Idiotic comment contest – SARAH WINS FOREVER.)

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V C September 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I call troll, too. Methinks the “wife” is a very chapped palm.

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