We’re no fan of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man who gives secret speeches to anti-gay groups and who once used an Alabama anti-sodomy law to try and shut down an LGBTQ conference, but as far as we know he’s heterosexual. We mention this because of a recent Chelsea Handler Jeff Sessions tweet in which the American comedian and talk show host referred to Sessions as “definitely a bottom,” reinforcing the idea that being gay and an anally receptive sexual partner are degrading and make funny insults.
In a tweet posted Friday evening, Handler wrote, “Jeff Sessions is definitely a bottom.” People on Twitter immediately criticized her for making a homophobic, bottom-shaming joke. Handler has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration, so it’s highly unlikely that she intended it as a compliment.
I’m a bottom, and I’m proud of it. https://t.co/wPs7c7ZBb8
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) April 6, 2018
Nevertheless, she doubled down on her comment seven hours later by posting a tweet that proclaimed (in her trademark self-effacing way), “I’m a bottom, and I’m proud of it.” Sure you are, Handler. In November 2017, she said that she hates anal because it’s too painful.
Part of Handler’s comedy hinges on her calling herself a mess, publicly embracing past sexual humiliations and her beloved vices like unabashed alcoholism. But there’s something disingenuous about her insulting Sessions and then proclaiming that she’s no different than him.
Handler’s 2016 Netflix series Chelsea Does took humorous yet earnest explorations into such social issues as racism, something Sessions himself stands accused of. Sessions is now touting tougher penalties for drug users including ones in states with legalized cannabis, another topic she tackled in her Netflix series.
So Handler insults Sessions and then claims she’s just like him. Okay. No.
To be fair, gay men make insults similar to the Chelsea Handler Jeff Sessions joke based on a man’s perceived effeminacy (or other superficial indicators). But one can argue that the insult lands differently when applied to another gay man by a member of the gay male community. One can also argue that the insult is no different, no matter where it comes from or goes to.
Whether Handler realizes it or not, she’s dabbling in a form of homophobic misogyny that’s quite common. Homophobic countries with anti-gay laws tend to treat bottoms more harshly than tops because they view tops as “just doing what men do” but bottoms as “men who behave like women.” And there’s nothing worse than that, in their eyes.
They (like Chelsea) see bottoming as emasculating, woman-like and degrading, which is homophobic and sexist. She could be making a rape joke, comparing Sessions to being Trump’s butt boy, but even that’s basically the same joke.