Tina Fey Hates Sex Workers: Part Two of Infinity

by Charlotte Shane on April 28, 2011 · 14 comments

in Tina Fey Hates Sex Workers

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.

The biggest punchline comes immediately after a cut to a table of crying strippers, with Tracy Jordan handing one a tissue and saying “I know you’ve been molested. That’s how we all got here.” Is Fey trying to draw an analogy between the mainstream entertainment industry and the sex industry, perhaps implying that both actors and strippers have some type of emotional damage that motivated them to pursue their chosen profession? It’s doubtful. Remember, strip clubs are evil but the entertainment industry, with its rampant misogyny and discrimination, is a necessary evil in which Fey herself happens to charmingly participate. The main point is that strippers are abuse victims with daddy issues. Funny, original stuff.

So there’s that, and there’s also the quote that’s been circulating from Fey’s new memoir, Bossypants:

Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not knowing stuff?

Maybe when Fey wrote this she was thinking of that chick who auctioned off her virginity at a Nevada brothel a while back for a sum that was never confirmed. I’m not really sure. But the virginal cache that she’s referring to is symptomatic of a larger sexism that likes women “pure,” and it’s not unique to nor oppressively pervasive in commercial sex. (Which of our two industries, Ms. Fey, is notorious for promoting “a fresh face?” And in which of our two industries is it considered a valuable selling point to have 20 “reviews” written by different men about what a great lay you are?) Of course there are clients who like new girls—usually because those guys are gross and manipulative, and if someone’s new she doesn’t know that he’s been blacklisted by everyone else, and she may not be great at maintaining her boundaries. But many, many clients don’t want or value cluelessness.

All of which leads me to wonder: Tina Fey is clearly so fascinated by the mere existence of sex workers, why doesn’t she actually educate herself about us? Tina, we here at T&S will personally tutor you! Our rates start at $500/hour. We promise not to cry about our fathers.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan Kelly April 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

I like this post, thanks for writing it. I’m reading that Bossypants book right now (was on Xanax at the airport magazine/snack store, what can I say) and it bums me out that she is genuinely funny sometimes, and genuinely racist and misogynist at other times, among other things.

And the sex industry/whore-hating shit really fucking peeves me, when anyone does it, but somehow especially when women who otherwise complain about misogyny do it.

Plus I’d like to point out – tons of people who don’t end up in the sex industry are raped, molested by dads or others, etc. And I *do* believe that sexual abuse plays a part in how humans live/react/behave/choose, in all kinds of ways, but if someone’s going to bring up “you got ‘here’ [supposedly someplace the person herself should be ashamed of having gotten to] because daddy molested you,” I REALLY fucking wish their point would be “so if you want to point me in his general direction, I’d be happy to go kill his ass,” rather than “so I am going to both pity you and use you for [not even remotely funny] comedy purposes!” I mean goddamnit already.

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lola April 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm

exactly! thank you for this! every time she makes a sex worker crack my spine gets that hot, tingly embarrassed-by-proxy feeling that it always does when someone else’s pathos is showing. cmon tina. really? again?

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lola April 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

oh, what am i saying. thanks for pushing for a feminist dialogue for women, tina! i mean, for most women! not ones that have ever done anything that i’ve done though. that’s okay. i’m glad you’re out there, making it safe for everyone else. i’ll just be here under my bridge or on the stage or whatever.

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ashley doughty April 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Great article, as always. I honestly think if Ms. Fey read any of your writing, she would move in your direction on this issue. My own opinions on sex workers / the need for rights / the need for understanding have DRAMATICALLY changed by reading your blog / this site. I truly miss your tumblr/blog, btw. You have such a clear, unique voice on such an poorly understood topic. I’m thrilled to see you’re still writing here. Take care:)

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River April 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

Yeah, I advertise myself as skilled and well reviewed, not virginal.

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Kat Kat May 5, 2011 at 12:35 am

When I first read the quote, I interpreted it as her saying that there is no skill involved in prostitution, as if all one has to do is lay back and spread her legs. But then I saw the bragging part and got confused. I just picked up a copy of Bossypants today and will write a review for the site if there are more quotes like this.

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Joan Kelly May 14, 2011 at 2:37 am

“as if all one has to do is lay back and spread her legs.”

can I just say as a lazy person that this would in fact be my dream job, if it really existed. The stuff I have done/still sometimes do in the kinky sex industry sometimes approximates such lack of effort, but not nearly enough for my lazy taste.

I know that’s totally off topic. On topic, I’d like to say – it’s one of the reasons I loved the article on here about that lady who wrote a book about looking for sugar daddies: there is so much to know and very specific skills involved in prostitution. I say that as somebody who’s made half-assed attempts to combine kinky whoring with full service, where I’ve felt like, thank god I’ve known this client for years and he likes me, because I’d *so* be in over my head right now if he were a new client expecting someone to act like an escort who knew some shit.

It’s not like I didn’t/don’t know how to fuck or suck or whatever, it’s…I don’t know, there’s something about the fact that doing it for money has a few different factors of structure to it (time boundaries that need to be respected while balanced against pacing of the experience and its intended climax; agreed-upon acts vs stuff they’re not going to get, etc.) that makes it more complicated than what my lazy self day dreams of. And I don’t know how people learn that shit without the help of other women in the industry – I learned EVERYTHING I needed to know from other women in pro bdsm. And, at the very beginning when I went out on my own (instead of working at a commercial dungeon), I learned what I needed to know from a friend who’d been an escort.

So the hubris of people thinking either a) there’s nothing to it but spreading your legs and counting your money and/or b) there’s no value in the experience of women who’ve been doing it successfully for a while, it irritates the hell out of me. That goes for stripping too, and porn, and all of it. I’m not trying to claim it’s brain surgery, but you know what, my first job at Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn’t brain surgery either, but I didn’t just walk in my first day knowing how to make the fucking biscuits. It’s misogynist that people feel the need to heap dismissal on top of disrespect towards women who are voluntarily in the sex industry.

p.s. if Tits and Sass has a please-don’t-leave-mile-long-comments-on-our-posts policy, I’ve missed that information and so will need to be told directly.

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Elle Elle June 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I’m never buying anything with her name on it. It’s too bad that someone so seemingly clever has to stoop to such a low level of comedy.

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Gabriel September 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

i like tina fey. she uses sarcasm like no other. and sarcasm is supposed to be offensive.
she is not mean, or a racist, just doing her job. yes, she is insulting sex workers, as much as politicians and actors, while using stereotypical notions so as to make people smile. which is her job.

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eagerbeaver March 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm

You know, the point is not that she shouldn’t joke. But if you’ve ever paid attention while watching her, you’d admit that she focuses most of her resentment on sex and forgives everything else. That itself may be fine, but don’t say she’s equal-opportunity-attacking.

The thing is her photos are so nice that they alone are worth praise. Just more prudish self resentment to ruin a good mood. Fey defined.

Her jokes are like a 10 year old’s, spoken by a mature woman. “Did you hear about the hooker that got killed? She was doing it at some point!”
I love that every crappy comedy is on tv because it’s crappy. But with Fey, the soft bigotry of lowered expectations means we have to say that a woman comedian must be some sort of super intellectual.

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eagerbeaver March 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

And the character of CEO jack is really never mocked for anything but his sexual innuendo (how inappropriate he is!). All of his other abuses are based on corporate success and they’re always wise and powerful. His corporatism gets all the good lines.
Fey is a complete shill but because she’s a woman, she must be good. Yep, we’re still at that kind of woman-hating feminism that thinks if only women act like a certain male ideal, they’re good women.

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