Tina Fey Hates Sex Workers

Kitty Stryker with Andre Shakti. (Screencap from Ban This Sick Filth, courtesy of Kitty Stryker)

Kitty Stryker with Andre Shakti. (Screencap from Ban This Sick Filth, courtesy of Kitty Stryker)

I’m in the middle of being flogged by Courtney Trouble for Banned in the UK (NSFW), an anti-censorship porn critiquing obscenity laws. It’s getting a little hot and heavy and my ass is getting red when the tails whip around and smack the cameraperson, my lover, in the face. We all dissolve into giggles.

And they say there’s no authenticity in porn.

I have a boner to pick with Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), an actress and one of the producers of an “intimate and ultimately harrowing” documentary about porn performers (because even when a documentary is expressing disgust and pity for sex workers, it’s still sexualized). Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus are very concerned about the impact of porn on culture; it was the subject of their first documentary, Sexy Baby. During an interview at the Sundance Film Festival about the film (which was bought by Netflix), Ms. Jones said, “Women should feel pleasure and have sex and feel good about it—and there’s a lot of shame involved with porn,” adding that “[i]t’s performative, women aren’t feeling joy from it.”

I’m an amateur-ish porn performer and one of the directors of a little company called TROUBLEfilms. As a queer owned, queer focused operation, fulfilling cis male fantasies is not really high up on our list of priorities, but I guess since everyone knows that “only men are visual” all porn is basically the same, right? And of course as the casting director of this company, I am blasé about performer safety and health—it’s not like we have a multi-page document of model rights and our ethical standards.

If only porn was as progressive as Hollywood—oh, wait, except there’s more representation in the porn industry for female directors and producers than in the mainstream film industry.

But I’m going to put aside my sarcasm for a minute, because this is a serious issue with serious consequences. There’s been a lot of discussion about “authenticity” in porn and how amazing and valuable and feminist a quality it is, but I call bullshit on that discourse. Indie porn performer Arabelle Raphael made a great point last year by stating that porn is still labor, and as such, it is by its very nature performative. All labor requires some sort of performance, from smiling at customers you dislike to being polite when you hate your boss. Labor in the entertainment field, whether that be acting on stage, screen, or in adult movies, is even more explicitly staged. Activist sex worker Siouxsie Q wrote about how when she was working with a feminist pornographer, the actual, negotiated sex she wanted to have with a real life play partner was considered “too much” to be “authentic” as defined by that director. So who decides, then, what is authentic and what is performative? Are these actually opposite ends of a spectrum?

(Editor’s note: Content warning—NSFW images after the jump.)

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This week at Tits and Sass we reviewed one book from a john, one from sex worker hater Tina Fey, and a classic pimp flick. Elle wrote about her understanding of Slutwalk through the lens of sexual assault at work, and we showed you the most offensive political ad ever made.

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Guess who isn't a whore for posing in sexy photos and dating an older man? This gal!

I bet you thought that with the most recent season of 30 Rock all wrapped up, we wouldn’t have any more opportunities to obsess about Tina Fey’s mean-spirited sex worker obsession. But with our girl TF, the sex worker hate is a constantly bubbling stream. So let’s drink deep from her well with this old SNL Weekend Update monologue about how Hugh Hefner’s “whore” girlfriends were all sexually abused. Comedy is funny!

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There she is, being Not Remotely Like A Sex Worker!

Oh Tina Fey, you sex worker-obsessed mess. I love 30 Rock with all the passion of a fake orgasm, but sometimes it’s more in spite of you than because of you. Let’s start with last week’s episode, shall we?

Once again, Tracy Jordan (played by comedian Tracy Morgan) finds himself in a strip club with Liz Lemon (Tina Fey.) But for once, their visit was Liz’s idea. She’s become desperate to restore her unpredictable, outrageous TV star to his former self after a bout of serious-actor-itis, and she figures watching “someone’s daughter shake her crack”—yes Tina, every woman is someone’s daughter, what a relevant point—will snap him out of his funk. Sadly, the dancers in the club all flock around Jordan and begin congratulating him on how his film “Hard To Watch” changed their lives, and their confessions about estrangement from their biological fathers (ha! never saw that one coming) is the last thing he wants to hear.
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Location on Long Island where the bodies of four women who worked as prostitutes were found

Y’all catch that joke on 30 Rock a couple of weeks (S05E13) ago? Jack Donaghy is in his office, mourning the change in GE ownership. “This is where we used to hold retirement parties. The balcony below is probably still littered with stripper bones.” HAR.

One of the reasons sex workers become politicized is to make ourselves visible as real people to decrease our chances of being easy victims of violent crimes in a society where we are considered lesser members. Jokes like this (and Tina Fey looooves to write stripper jokes*) are one of the constant small ways sex workers are dehumanized to the public. Cracks about dead ones are less funny in light of the women’s remains that were found on Long Island.

Fey is beloved by a lot of women for modeling success in a male-dominated field, which makes her rage towards other women come off as bitter and unreasonable. You know what’s harder than being a rich white woman in Hollywood who gets called crazy because men don’t want to fuck you (hey, you still get to complain about it in The New Yorker)? Having your humanity denied because you are the woman they do want to fuck.

* “I love to play strippers and to imitate them,” says Fey. “I love using that idea for comedy, but the idea of actually going there? I feel like we all need to be better than that. That industry needs to die, by all of us being a little bit better than that.” Vanity Fair, January 2009

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