Sex Workers and Herpes Are Punchlines For SNL's Sexual Assault Jokes

“Problematic!!!” disclaimer here (I know, it’s tired): but it’s still saddening to see people in poverty and/or with a very common stigmatized incurable virus lumped in with sexual predators. Last night’s SNL’s well-intended “Grabbies” skit, an Oscars for Hollywood’s rapists and harassers, was tinged as per usual with the slut-shaming embedded in disgraced men stories.

In an “Access Hollywood” type skit, Kate McKinnon asks Kenan Thompson, playing nominee for “Cecil B. Molestin Award,” about the woman standing next to him.

“Is this your wife?

“No, this is a prostitute.”

“This is fun,” the “prostitute” says with vocal fry.

He feeds her a cracker.

The casual stereotype of a woman with the intellectual maturity of a horse so dumb that she’s necessarily associated with horrible people feels a little late for 2018, given the vast repository of data available about sex workers. Sex workers are teachers, students, health workers, charity workers, low-income teens, and women who just do it because everyone can make their own sexual decisions. Even more hurtful, it’s not difficult to find data connecting sex workers with all kinds of physical and mental perils: sex workers are at high risk for violence, rape, HIV, homelessness, depression, PTSD, and all the while criminalized. It’s no coincidence that the industry favors historically oppressed populations; another 2015 study by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that nearly 70% of transgender sex workers surveyed reported being denied jobs or being fired for their gender identity. Nearly 40% of black transgender women surveyed had performed some kind of sex work in their lives.


The idea that only deplorable people do sex work or sexually bargain has dogged this whole Weinstein story. This weekend, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer told the Sunday Times that some women offer casting-couch sex voluntarily. So what if some do? Does it justify the power structure in which Jabba the Hutt can destroy your career if you don’t fuck him?

To top it off, SNL throws in a herpes dig:

“Does that pin say ‘I’m with her’?” Cecily Strong asks guest Charles Barkley, nominated for “Best Non Apology.”

“No, it says ‘I’m with herpes,’ the doctors gave it to me this morning.”

The joke’s probably on somebody in the SNL writing room there. Two out of three, everybody. One in six for genital!

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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Imma start a list of things that every single sexworker is sick to fucking death of hearing:

“Omg you’re smart! I’m so surprised you’re smart!” (Said in the tone of a man encountering a talking dog, or some other mythical, apparently impossible to believe in creature).

“You’re so nice - and SMART! Why are you doing THIS for a living?” (Because you just gave me $400 for 45 minutes work? Because I want to? Because I like it? None of these are deemed acceptable answers, FYI)

“So, sexwork... you were abused I guess, huh?” (Said in faux sad, deeply salacious tones. Responding “no, actually engenders disbelief and/or a lecture about repressed memory)