I’m not big on role models, but I suspect that I’m highly typical among outspoken females in counting Tina Fey as one of mine (if you’re curious, the complete list includes Maeby Funke, Amanda Blank at 4:04 of that song, and… cannot think of any more). I’ve been a big-time fan of Miz Fey’s ever since I bought this fat history of SNL in 2002, and even more so since I found out that she was part of the lovingly, painfully nerd-face theater group I was lucky enough to partake in at UVA. So obviously I pre-ordered her book and signed up for Amazon Prime just to get the free two-day shipping so that this book could arrive yesterday and I could spend an unsatisfyingly short three hours in bed devouring it. I laughed out loud in an empty room about twenty times. Bossypants is funny, perceptive, and perfectly self-deprecating–exactly what you’d expect from one of the few current female celebrities famous for being talented rather than going to the gym a lot. Some critics have been complaining that it’s not quite a memoir and that it lacks some expected juicily emotional depth, but to me that’s why this book was so enjoyable: it’s about work, it’s not gratuitous, it’s there to tell you the things about Tina Fey’s life that are 1) funny and 2) actually interesting, and it’s not there for anything else.
Slate called Tina Fey’s attitude “tough girl feminism“–the kind where someone yells “Nice tits” and you yell back “Suck my dick”–and this is so agreeable to my mode of operation that I’m having a hard time imagining what else you’d do in that situation. As Mick Foley said on Fox News, the world may get an F with women, but we’re getting a C-minus and bragging about it; what else can you do with that other than take no shit and use the language of the shitters? Fey talks about being at a seminar with 200 women who were all asked to pinpoint the moment where they first “knew they were a woman.” Nearly all of them talked about the first time they were harassed, which rings true to the time I was at evangelical Baptist camp when I was eleven and some thirteen-year-old suggested I stick whatever I was holding “in my pussy.” On a semi-related note, I’m not sure too many men would buy this book, because it’s a lot more frankly feminist than everything else that will sell over 10,000 copies, but they should, because it’s funny. And anyway if Tina Fey’s very reasonable gender-equality slant is too much, then we really in trouble.
Some highlights from Bossypants:
On how beauty ideals have diversified admirably since the 70′s, with JLo bringing the butt and Beyonce the “leg meat”: “And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
Responding to an Internet bodybuilding forum where someone posted “I’d stick it in her tail pipe”: “Thank you so much for your interest! Whether you meant it in a sexual way or merely as an act of aggression, I am grateful. As a ‘woman of a certain age’ in this business, I feel incredibly lucky to still be ‘catching your eye’ ‘with my anus.’ You keep me relevant!”
About this UVA douche bag who invites her on a mountain hike just to talk to her about another girl the whole way: “He had to stop and smile at the adorableness of this–Gretchen had asked him to tear the piece of Trident in half because it was too big for her. ‘Can you believe that?’ he marveled. A girl so feminine and perfect that half a piece of Trident was the most she could handle. I tried to process what this meant for my evening. ‘So… you and I will not be dry humping, then?’… As I crawled into my bottom bunk, I thought about how I had climbed Old Rag. I thought about Gretchen, the girl who could only accommodate half a piece of gum. ‘I hope you marry her,’ I imagined saying to HRW, ‘and I hope she turns out to have a cavernous vagina.”