Insecure's Portrayal of Black Women's Sexuality

Today, human sexuality is the breeding ground for many sex talks that allow us to openly express ourselves as sexual beings. Whether we’re discussing femininity versus masculinity, platonic or romantic relationships, or even casual sex versus committed relationships, human sexuality is at the forefront. The topic of sexuality has been the cause of many lingering debates due to its role in history, particularly in African American history. Black sexuality in itself has carried on its shoulders the continued rape of black women, the growing fascination of the black male’s penis, the prevailing inscrutability of black women’s curves, as well as the brutal physical and mental abuse of African Americans in general.

Issa Rae’s HBO series, Insecure, is proof that yes—black sexuality has a troublesome past, but it is also an allegory of power. Widely known for openly revealing modern day lifestyles of young and urban black twenty-somethings in the heart of Los Angeles, Insecure serves as the epitome of black heterosexual sexuality—especially black women sexuality. Instead of disputing black sexuality and its history, Issa Rae embraces and normalizes black women sexuality by providing different accounts of hot steamy sex talks, one-night stands, sex 101 moments, and lusty sex scenes between the series’ undeniably engaging stars.

For years, black women have been degraded to nothing more than hoes, side pieces, gold diggers, and video vixens. But Issa has combatted these stereotypes by reclaiming her power, black power, and black women power. Throughout the series, we see Issa and her television bestie, Molly, repeatedly having the notorious ‘girl talk’. We see them raving about dick sizes—how good it was, how big it was, or how good the last sexual encounter or two was. Black women are always at the center of the discussion, whether it’s negative or positive.

Because sex is considered a sensitive and private topic, it has been placed into the rigid category of uncomfortable conversation topics. But why? Men are commended and sometimes hyped up for their continued sexualized conversations about how good their sex is. They're praised for how big their ‘manhood’ is and even for how many women have experienced their 'goods'. I mean, am I wrong? This isn’t to shame anyone, but rather inform and entertain. Black men are highly regarded for sexualizing women while women are continuously ‘slut-shamed’ for glorifying sex with a man or multiple partners.

Issa’s representation of black sexuality is her way of owning what most people hope women will keep secret. With each increasingly shocking episode of Insecure, the storyline progresses, featuring intense plots and major boiling points all having to do with human sexuality. For example, the show explores the pros and cons of blowjobs from a black woman's perspective. She highlights whether it is degrading for a woman to perform it without giving up the actual ‘prized possession.’ She delves into whether a woman ‘knows how’ to perform it well is stigmatized. She sparks conversation about the necessity for women to swallow when giving a blowjob. And the hot-button topic of whether oral sex is actually a part of sex or just an addition.

The show also provides a discussion of the sexual spectrum of heterosexual black women. For example, a woman’s ‘hoe phase’ is mentioned when Issa believes it is time for her to experience one. While men are known to have a promiscuous phase or two in their lifetime, they tend to receive less scrutiny in doing so. The term ‘hoe phase’ isn’t necessary for the male population; men are allowed and even encouraged to be more sexually expressive and have multiple partners. Meanwhile, women are scrutinized and labeled as 'hoes' and 'sluts' if they aren’t fully committed to one man. The backlash that women experience on a daily basis because of their sexual lifestyle—particularly one that does not reflect a monogamous relationship—is ridiculous. 

All black women are black, yes. But, all black women are also different—culturally, emotionally, and especially personality-wise. We are different in the way they think, speak, and react. Insecure portrays authentic representations of modern day black life, black debates and conversations, black culture, black misconceptions, black love and lust, and black socio-economic positions. Insecure serves as a more honest exemplification of a culturally-driven show filled with strikingly melanin fierceness.