Sexual Inadequacy: If You Can Take a Tracy Morgan...

During a recent comedy show in Nashville, Tracy Morgan launched into a vitriolic rant about queer people. He claimed that Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was bullshit because of the line “God makes no mistakes,” that there was no way one woman could love another (because women are a gift from God reserved for real, deserving straight men, natch), and that if his son were gay and had a feminine gender presentation, Morgan would stab him to death. This isn’t the first time Morgan has made hateful remarks onstage—in 2009 he claimed that being gay was a choice to a crowd at Carnegie Hall—but the statements that he is alleged to have made in Tennessee make that performance seem rather tame.

Near the end of this tirade, Morgan included an old chestnut for the queers in the audience, something I’ve grown used to hearing from every “edgy” comedian who wants to get a few yucks doing material about sissy men or butch ladies or epicene androgynes or whoever is filling the straight male id with abject terror this week: “If you can take a dick, you can take a joke.” The implication being that anal sex is some sort of great feat, like the Iron Man Competition or a Triathlon, that straight men couldn’t possibly endure, because they’re so strong and manly? Obviously a person who has passed through such a terrible ordeal will be so hardened by the experience that they will lose all ability to be angry that they paid almost 90 dollars to be told their sexuality is a choice. The statement sometimes carries with it a note of begrudging respect, but that respect is in the context of the speaker acknowledging that “taking a dick” would be impossible for them. They use queer sexuality to have something to define themselves against in order to underscore and highlight their own bland heteronormativity, and expect to get a pass for vile shit they’ve said about queer lives? Fuck that.

This idea that is taken for granted, that anal sex is inherently painful or unpleasant or something to be endured, is extremely pervasive in the culture. It creates a problem when younger queers internalize this, which leads them to accept painful or unpleasant sex as an inevitability, something the passive partner must endure and the active partner can’t help but inflict. When they have their first sexual encounter they may know to insist on a condom, but might not know to insist that their own sexual pleasure be of equal importance to the sexual pleasure of their partner. They may believe that being a good receptive partner means enduring needlessly painful sex without complaint.

Morgan has since apologized for his remarks, but this stock phrase that comedians trot out whenever the queers in an audience are getting a little too empowered has got to go. It is a relic of an old, dangerous, defunct way of thinking of queer sexuality and it stopped being funny ages ago.

Previously: The Lonely Island’s “Three Way”, t.A.T.u. and Synthetic Queerness

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16 Comments Have Been Posted

I've always said this:

If you have to rely on outmoded institutions of societal oppression in order to be funny, then you're not very creative and you shouldn't be making money in comedy.

Bitch Can't Take a Joke

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Check out our Comments Policy, people: Name-calling and personal attacks are not allowed, nor is, uh, demanding sexual favors from female readers. "But it's a joke!" is not a sufficient excuse for threatening language, from either Morgan or commenters.

I found Tracy Morgan mildly

I found Tracy Morgan mildly amusing at times. I'm really sorry to hear this, though not entirely surprised. It's sadly rare that a comedian, particularly an "edgy" one, actually comes up with creative material and/or material that doesn't stoop to insulting large and diverse groups of people. Instead I find a lot of them to simply rehash the same oppressive bullshit over and over again. At this point I can't even be angry. I'm just bored.

So glad you addressed this.

I had never heard of Tracy Morgan until he was on the cover of <i>Bust</i>, presented as a model of progressive, feminist-friendly macho-dudeship. I was horrified to read his remarks, and perhaps even more so that no one appeared to call him out for his homophobic routine until a Facebook note from an audience member went viral.

Unlike many celebs who've had bigoted tirades, he wasn't drunk or in a place where he thought no one would hear him. This was <i>his show</i>. The sentiment that gay kids should be killed (oh, "but it's a joke, so hate speech is fine, la la la," whatever) is obviously acceptable to a scarily huge number of people.

Also, like you, I'm so not into the dick joke. No one better tell Morgan or his apologists that some straight men like being penetrated, too, or that "taking a dick" is not an end-all to individual thought.

Great post, as usual!

Intimidated by difference

I think that most heterosexuals are intimidated by the growth of VISIBLE homosexuality. Back in the day homosexuals were forced into the closet while today they're saying 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" Society's changing and many don't want that to be the case so this is how they handle it.

but speaking from personal experience as a heterosexual woman anal sex IS painful.

Anal sex isn't always

Anal sex isn't always painful. I find it can be pleasurable and lead to some amazing orgasms.

not painful

but speaking from personal experience as a heterosexual woman anal sex IS painful.

No it isn't. You're doing it wrong.

Can't we just say that some

Can't we just say that some people like anal sex and some people don't? For some people, it's always going to hurt, or it hurt enough the first few times that they never want to try it again. It's not worth it. For others, it's a wonderful experience. Maybe she's "doing it wrong", or maybe it just isn't for her.


...anal sex CAN be painful if you don't pace yourself properly. And I'm saying this as a male who's given it to his gf AND received it. The key is not to rush anything, and if you plan to use toys, don't go past what you could theoretically could handle. Start small, and then work your way to handling normal sized stuff. And of course, use plenty of lube (lotion or K-Y is preferable). When I didn't do this or got overconfident, sharp pain hit. Obviously, none of this deterred me from continuing, but for people on the fence about anal, that will definitely kill their opinion on enjoying it.

It's also possible that even with practice, someone won't ever really get into anal, regardless of sexual orientation, and that's okay. Even some gay men prefer mutual masturbation (whether oral or not) as a safer, more enjoyable alternative to anal sex.


What about this is attracting so much trolling in the comments section?

Anyway, yeah, if you can't come up with material that is funny without being ridiculously offensive, you probably shouldn't be a comedian.

Been wondering about this.

Been wondering about this. Perhaps he doesn't indulge in this sort of shit at work and he is otherwise a pleasant person - I'm sure we've all got one person we like and don't want to think the worst of. So she is reluctant to believe the worst, but surely she'll realise soon enough that he really has said this stuff?

Barbed defense

"[This] doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person." - Tina Fey

Oi. I don't get the feeling she's happy with him, but it IS still a defense, and I wish it weren't. I wonder if she'd ask us to forgive him if they didn't share a show.

I think it is possible that

I think it is possible that what he said was not what he really believes, not that he is at all supportive of gays, but that he is too narcissistic to care. Which seems to be what Tina Fey is saying. However, the fact that he thought those were fine, even as jokes, seems to suggest that he's still screwed up personally.

I'm a little late to reading

I'm a little late to reading this post, but Tracy Morgan came to do a stand-up routine at my college a few years ago. He is the most offensive comedian I have ever seen. He managed to insult every single social group or class imaginable; the audience was visibly uncomfortable. I (usually) love 30 Rock, but I think we generally commend his performance on the show because his often racist and sexist remarks are tempered by the other characters, therefore turning his commentary into satire. But as a stand up comedian, he said a lot of things that weren't funny, just offensive.

The man's a hero.

The man's a hero.

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