Insecure Highlights the Double Standard of Sexual Fluidity

A recent episode of the HBO series Insecure explored the double standards pertaining to male sexuality and accepting someone’s lifestyle choices.

Langston Kerman as Jared in the HBO series Insecure HBO

Sunday night’s episode of Insecure had to be one of the best in the series so far. The HBO show does well painting a picture of what it means to be a modern-day single black woman dating in Los Angeles, while examining topics of racism, sexism and microaggressions not only in the dating scene but also within the daily lives of black women.

Throughout the first season, many of the characters in the show have experienced various situations that have led them to feel insecure about who they are, most recently in the storyline between Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Jared (Langston Kerman).

In case you haven’t been able to keep up, Molly is a well-to-do attorney who continues to search for Mr. Right while finding only Mr. Right Now. In her endeavors to branch out and date someone different from who she is usually attracted to, she meets Jared, who we later learn isn’t an Ivy League lawyer or attorney but a salesman at the local Enterprise Rent-a-Car. After another love interest goes sour for Molly, she decides to reconvene with Jared, only to find out that they both have more in common than what she expects.

In Sunday’s episode, Molly invites Jared over for a night of dinner and kinship during which both of them get onto the topic of things they have done in their pasts. Molly begins sharing parts of her college experience, specifically sharing that during her college years, she had a fling with another woman. Throughout this conversation, Molly continues to pressure Jared into sharing a secret with her that will surprise her.

Surprise her is exactly what he does.

Jared states that while out with one of his really good friends a few years back, he opted to go back to his place and let said friend provide him with some lip service. This information wasn’t a shock to Molly until Jared confessed that the said person he connected with was male.

It was evident that this information did not go over well with Molly. We find out that the idea of Jared having intercourse with another male is something that makes her very insecure and ultimately leads her to break things off with her love interest. Later on in the episode, a few of Molly’s friends challenge her by asking why it seems that Jared should be OK with the fact that she has had relations with another woman, yet it is not OK for him to have had relations with another man.

This episode offered a very salient question for me as the viewer: Why does it seem that black men are never able to explore their sexuality without fear of rejection or embarrassment within our culture?

For black men, conversation around sexual exploration continues to be a taboo. What’s even more problematic is how often black women feed into this, stating that they would never date a man who has had sexual relations with another man.

Double standard much?

What we must understand is that sexuality as a whole is fluid. If black women in society are given the same freedom to talk about their sexual explorations, black men should be provided the same opportunity. The idea that black men who identify themselves as straight should never explore their sexuality is not only oppressive but dangerous. Toxic masculinity can be deadly and only adds to the many hurdles that black men have to cross in their day-to-day lives.

Shaming black men for being in touch with their wants and desire is rooted not only in homophobia but also in elements of misogyny. When we deny black men the right to sexual exploration and sexual freedom, we are ultimately reminding them that masculinity means more to us as a community than the right to freedom of expression. If we as a community seek progression and freedom, we must allow that for all of us, regardless of our past or present sexual explorations.

We ain’t free until we all free.

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