If you’re like me, you plan your Sunday evenings around certain shows. There’s 60 Minutes, Game of Thrones, Power, Ballers, and, my favorite, Insecure. I’ve been fan of Issa Rae’s work since The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and get excited every time there’s a cameo from “Baby Voice” talking about bleenex and blorox bleach. But this last episode sparked a lot of conversations, not just about one of my favorite character’s ability to change every word beginning with a C- or K- sound into a B.
In Season 2, Episode 6, we experienced “Hella Blows” when after performing fellatio on Daniel, Issa is shot in the eye by errant ejaculate and shows a combination of shock, disgust, and, in my opinion, gross overreaction. After the episode, I found numerous memes and tweets that mocked the situation and most responses I found criticized her reaction. What I found most troubling, however, was the dismissal of the concerns of Molly, Issa, and Kelli when they were discussing their thoughts about oral sex. Issa’s character stated earlier in the show how she felt that black women were immediately dismissed if they performed it early in a relationship. Although most think pieces have characterized this thought as being outdated and irrelevant, I think it’s a very real belief many women still hold true.
I can easily remember the stereotypes I heard of women who gave head. I was told they were promiscuous, dirty whores who had no self-respect. I didn’t receive this message from my family, but from society at large. As a black teenage girl, I clearly recollect feeling a sort of pressure to be the antithesis of certain sexual ideas about black girls and women, particularly the Jezebel archetype. And, of course, if you performed, let alone enjoyed oral sex, that would automatically make you a hoe. From a specific church community, I remember being told very certainly that oral sex was morally reprehensible because you should only use your mouth to praise God, not to defile the body. Because so many negative messages are circulated around this particular act, I felt some resonance when Molly, Issa, and Kelli were describing their reservations with performing fellatio. However, as I grew into adulthood (and as a Christian, read Song of Solomon 4:16 – 5:1), I came to my own understanding and acceptance of oral sex as being a healthy expression between and amongst consenting partners. For me, it was important and necessary that I work to undo the negative ideas that had been perpetuated, but I still understand why and how they exist.
So many people have said the dialogue felt like it was straight from a 2003 episode of Sex in the City. And I get it. It feels like we should be past these antiquated ideas, right? However, I don’t think we should dismiss them. The writers of Insecure decided to include this very real discussion because it still happens in 2017. Many women, specifically black women, are apprehensive about participating in certain sexual acts because of the fear of how they may be perceived. Just because you and your friends have a different experience shouldn’t discount the very real experience of others. The writers just gave voice to it and I’m glad they did.
Now, that shot of semen in the eye? Yeah. If Issa used one of those flavored condoms she got from the Sexplosion, she could’ve avoided that situation. Of course, there are other ways to dispose of semen if you’re not trying to swallow, but that’s for another post and another day.
I just think it’s important to acknowledge the ideas and views of others, even if they feel outdated, are very different from your own, and even if you’ve come to a greater understanding. Dismissing them is reckless and inconsiderate, especially since these are very real concerns of women. I’m just thankful the writers of Insecure decided to explore them and are responding to criticism for doing so.
De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker and sex therapist in private practice at Sankofa Sex Therapy, LLC. She’s on the Executive Board of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network and has been featured as a sexpert on Ebony.com, Elle.com, WomensHealthMag.com, and Shape.com. Check out her YouTube show, Ask A Sex Therapist, where she answers your questions related to sex and sexuality and visit her website, SankofaSexTherapy.com.