In 2017, casual sex is less of a taboo than it has ever been before. We are way more in touch with the reality that sexuality is an inherent part of what it means to be a human being. But this isn’t a concept that is spread equally among different groups of people. Women’s sexualities are way more likely to be shamed and dismissed as amoral than men’s. It’s even worse for Black women. In fact, Black women are forced to grapple with a unique brand of slut-shaming that is even more pervasive in my opinion. Part of the reason why I love Insecure — especially now that Issa has ventured into the world of Tinder hookups — so much is that it presents casual sex as a normal part of what it means to be a Black woman.
At the end of Insecure’s first season, when Lawrence and Tasha delivered the skin-smacking heard ‘round the world, Very Smart Brothas wrote a great take on why the sex scenes in this show are so revolutionary and necessary. Because Black bodies are so hypersexualised, Black sex is still considered too risqué for mainstream media. Insecure is moving us away from this stereotype and pushing our conversations about pleasure and sexuality in more ways than one. It is addressing the misogynoir that also dictates how Black girls show up as sexual beings on screen.
For Black women specifically, casual sex is almost always pathologised in popular media. Tyrese once said that women who have too much sex don’t have standards (he has since apologised). In Tyler Perry’s world, casual sex is reserved for Black women who have are dealing with severe trauma or spiritual crises. Even Nova, the Black feminist sibling on Queen Sugar who hosted a plethora of non-Black men in her bed, is implied to be using emotionless sex as a way to mask a deeper dissatisfaction with her life. And I won’t even get into what some of the men of Black Twitter have to say about the topic.
From Kelli’s (Natasha Rothwell) exploits, to Issa’s impending hoe phase, to Tasha’s pursuit of Lawrence (regardless of how you feel about it), Insecure is bringing realistic representations of the conversations, rituals, and acts of casual sex to our screens every week. These are conversations we are having with our homegirls and partners, even as we are shamed for it in media and online.
In what feels like a never-ending cycle of hyper-sexualising tropes and reinforced respectability to fight those tropes, even progressive portrayals of Black women’s sexuality can fall short in acknowledging that Black women have sex outside of the parameters of monogamous relationships and marriage. I can’t think of any show that has gone to the same lengths as Insecure on the topic. In this way, the show is not so basic, after all.