While Fey’s unsexy striptease was clearly meant to denounce the standards of performative femininity to which female celebrities are held, there was nothing truly daring about it. As a white woman with an enviable figure, Fey has the kind of body we are comfortable seeing served up for public consumption.
Even while Amy Schumer cast Fey as part of her trio of female performers no longer allowed to be seen as sexual objects in her show’s recent season premiere, when Fey takes her clothes off we’re supposed to cheer, invited to laugh at her boldness, while acknowledging that hers is still a great body to look at. It’s an act of comedy doubling as a humblebrag, thus removing all the threats that lurk within the power of female sexuality.
If Kardashian had uttered the same words as Tina Fey and stripped down to her underwear, the same critics applauding Fey would likely be head-shaking over Kardashian, who is already facing mockery for her just-published selfie book that show her frequently, of course, in her underwear. Nudity is met with derision when women present it to us with the intent to seduce: God forbid a woman take off her clothes and not first disarm male and female viewers alike by telling them that it’s OK to laugh.