The XX Factor

Tina Fey Doesn’t Own All the Funny

Hanna , Jessica , it looks like you’ve been pulled into the official backlash against Tina Fey that Rebecca Traister criticizes at Salon . Me, too! The funny thing is, I mostly agree with Traister’s points: that the character of Liz Lemon is supposed to be a bad feminist and not a hero, that Fey is a comedian first and a feminist second, and that Fey’s priggish moralizing (that extends to sex workers) has always been part of her personality and her humor. But I have a couple of objections to Traister’s arguments denouncing the backlash.

One is purely selfish. Traister included me in the list of feminists dog-piling Fey for the SNL episode on which she made fun of Michelle “Bombshell” McGee. The reason is for a tweet I put up : ” When I hear a married woman rant about the evils of sluts out there, I tend to wonder who her husband’s been dicking.” Traister characterized this as part of a ” swift and high-pitched pile-on” that “resembles nothing so much as the cafeteria from ‘Mean Girls.’ ” She says this after defending Fey’s rant mocking “whores,” i.e., the women lurking around trying to steal your husband.

To which I say: You cannot have it both ways. If Fey can get the laughs making fun of whores who are out to steal your man, I get to vie for the laughs by making fun of women who think it’s the duty of all other women in the world to keep your man faithful. That Fey’s medium is TV and my medium is Twitter should make no difference here. One standard of Mean Girls mockery of others to rule us all.

My other criticism of the criticism (God, I love blogging) is that Traister whipped out a straw man in defending the “whores” joke, by pointing out that Fey’s judgmental priggishness is nothing new. And hey, I’m all for judgmental priggishness used in service of making me laugh. The problem isn’t that Fey’s uptight about sex, though. The problem is that Fey is uptight about what she’d probably call lady-sex. It’s not priggishness that’s the problem when you blame the mistress for a man cheating on his wife. The problem is that you’re rocking a wicked double standard, in which men can’t be held accountable for their sexual behavior, so all the women of the world are required to do it for them. If you think that the men of the world are so weak-willed that they can’t be expected to perform a simple act of not sticking it in every tattooed neo-Nazi or Hooters waitress that’ll let them, then it’s only natural that the rest of us are going to look around and wonder what man in your life lowered your opinion of men so much.