As the credits rolled on another brilliant week of Issa Rae’s Insecure show on HBO, I was mourning the end of Get My Life Sundays – with Starz’s Power beginning, Game of Thrones filling and Insecure closing a three-hour block so tantalizing, you can’t resist as a nerd of color. I decided to check Twitter to see if anyone else was as slayed as I was. What do you know? Lo and behold, the Twitterverse is mad about something. (Would Twitter be Twitter if they weren’t?) This time, it was something that annoyed me enough to write an article about.
There’s been discourse for the majority of Insecure season 2 about its lack of condom use and how harmful that could be to anyone watching, who might identify with Issa’s character on the show and her decision-making process. Many people believe that instead of taking an opportunity to educate about condom use, Issa has chosen to forgo that for shock value and more humorous sex scenes.
I, of course, disagree. That’s why we’re here.
First off: the vast majority of the people who are watching a show on HBO about sex, cheating and being an adult are more than likely adults themselves. I see no reason that grown adults should need to be shoved in the face with a Safe Sex metaphor, particularly since most of the people crying out for condoms on Insecure don’t use them in their own sexual activity. You know to use condoms; why is it Issa Rae and HBO’s job to hold your hand through a sex scene? (As Issa pointed out on Twitter, condoms are often implied or placed in the back of scenes.)
There is no logical reason why showing condoms more on Insecure is going to help anything. Actually, I think it might hurt the show. One of the things I love the most about it is its realism – but while portraying condom use might be more realistic, wouldn’t this be a wonderful time for Issa to educate us about pregnancy or STD’s? (I’m more hoping for the second one, since STD’s are far more common in society than we think.) I can’t think of a TV show, especially a BLACK TV show, that’s gone there in the past few decades when it comes to sex education – especially with a female protagonist.
Next on the list: we need to address the stigma behind condoms anyway, and wouldn’t Insecure be a great place to do it? The show has already tackled subjects like racism, infidelity in Black relationships, white complacency, pay gaps between white men and Black women, and more. Imagine if, instead of doubling down on the condom usage in the show, Issa and Molly had one of their spirited discussions – about why condoms are only half the solution to the problem. Not only do condoms not 100% protect against STD’s, but often times they don’t work or aren’t put on right. STD’s are a part of human life, just as sex is – and the stigma surrounding them needs to be washed away.
If Issa contracts an STD, we can see her friends and her circle judging her for it, but her learning to accept herself the way she is and realize that having an STD doesn’t make her any less valid of a person. She’s still the dope, awkward, hilarious, relatable character we all fell in love with last season, and a storyline like this would not only make way for some hilarious moments, but also some much-needed topics of discussion for the Black community to have.
In conclusion, I think Insecure is doing a fabulous job with the way it’s handling sex and relations on the show. It could improve on its LGBT+ representation, but that’s a topic for another day. When it comes to condoms, I say: Issa Rae, you’re on the right track. Keep doing what you’re doing – and keep Insecure awkward, embarrassing and real.