Is It Safe? How Insecure Can Be a Force in Shaping Black Women’s Sexual Health

Illustration for article titled Is It Safe? How Insecure Can Be a Force in Shaping Black Women’s Sexual Health
Photo: HBO

If you watched Sunday night’s episode of Insecure you found out that Lawrence is out here burning folks. Kudos to the show for showing some of the negative health effects of what happens if you engage in unsafe sex, as well as showing Lawrence in true “good dude” form calling all of his sexual partners and telling them they should get tested. A famous poet and playwright once wrote, “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” What if Issa Rae used the success of her hit show to inform viewers about important sex issues?


The United States is seeing a steep increase in chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in recent years and young black men and women are at higher risk at contracting STDs than their white counterparts. Television can be a critical source of sexual health information, and perhaps, one of the more influential. According to a survey, 26 percent of the public say entertainment television is one of their top sources of health information. Over half (52 percent) said they consider the health information contained in these programs to be accurate.

Now, before you say I’m hating on the show, let me just say I am a huge fan. I was born in Inglewood, grew up in L.A. and believe it’s doing a lot to portray intelligent, multifaceted black women in compelling and realistic storylines. It is also infusing lots of money into some of the underappreciated neighborhoods and business of L.A. I tried to go to Worldwide Tacos last week and there was a five-hour wait.

I love how Insecure is affirming black female sexuality and challenging standards unfairly applied to women. I’m just saying I’d also like to see Issa, Molly and Kelli having honest conversations about contraception and what they are doing to protect themselves against STDs. As exciting and adventurous as the Ferris wheel hook-up was in last week’s “High-like” episode, Twitter has been ablaze that Issa and Nathan didn’t use a condom.

Negotiating condom use in real-life sexual situations isn’t always as easy, but Insecure fans are already paying attention and the writers have proven themselves to do a great job at working through awkward experiences. Rae even talked about the condom issue with Cosmo magazine last year. However, a far less told, but very real narrative is among the recent estimated diagnoses of HIV infection in U.S women; black women accounted for 61 percent and heterosexual contact was the most frequently way it was transmitted. Or that Trichomoniasis, the world’s most common curable STD, is disproportionally affecting black women and if left untreated, can lead to infertility.


Art can change one’s outlook on life. Insecure can be a powerful platform for raising awareness and giving black women the agency to best support their sexual health.

Dr. Regina Davis Moss is the associate executive director for the American Public Health Association and an expert in minority women and girl’s health and explores the intersection of the health and entertainment media. Follow her on Twitter.


I feel that was an honest portrayal of risky behavior. They were high and being under the influence leads to a lack of judgement. Engaging in unprotected sex increases with drug use. It would be more unrealistic if one stopped in the middle, while under the influence, to say let’s put on condom.