Every week, critic Hari Ziyad breaks down the mechanics of a particularly excellent Insecure scene, joke or character. This week, it’s all about what you really want for breakfast.
Dating in today’s world is messy as fuck. On one hand, the continuing app-ification of the dating process, along with the work of feminist and queer movements, has expanded our ideas about sex and relationships in important ways. Relationship options many of us never knew existed are gaining prominence. And they may better align with our values and needs than what is traditional.
Yesterday, I learned the difference between hierarchal and non-hierarchal open relationships (not to be confused with polyamorous relationships) from a non-binary friend who recently went on a date with a bisexual guy who is primarily dating a girl. (The primary partner makes this hierarchal).
Now, I barely understand what anything I just said means, but I love it. The traditional ways we went about relationships weren’t working for me, and I know they weren’t for many other people, either. The possibilities for how we connect with one another on a sexual level are beginning to seem endless. The flip-side of that, however, is that our endless options still seem to be full of shit.
In the second episode of HBO’s Insecure, Issa and Molly demonstrate this reality in a hilarious early scene. In trying to explain why she wanted to follow through on breaking up with her slacker boyfriend, Issa admits to loving him, but says she can’t truly commit because, “Maybe I’m not satisfied. Maybe I want to be dicked down properly… Maybe I want to ask a nigga what he wants for breakfast, and he replies, ‘That pussy,’ and he talkin’ ‘bout me.”
The importance of a good dicking down can’t be overstated. Unless you’re asexual. Or don’t like penis. Or just don’t like having one inside of you. The point is, good sex is an integral part of a lot of people’s relationships, and just recognizing you love someone is not the only answer for many of us anymore. Is love enough to deal with bad breath every morning and the inevitable, life-altering fights a few times a year? Sometimes you need your genitals to be your partner’s first meal of the day to make it all worth it. That’s just real.
Having been off the dating market for five years, Issa naturally inquires about dating apps as a potential cure for her dilemma. Molly gives her the rundown. OKCupid is where you find “bottom of the barrel dudes.” Tinder “used to be cool, but now it’s basically a fuck app.” Hinge relies on your network of friends, which isn’t as great as it sounds if all of your friends solely know “hotep; guys who love talking about Black liberation, but only if liberation means women are reduced to supportive and secondary roles. This is great if you are ready to be both a perfectly submissive pro-Black “queen” and still “be a freak, too,” and if you want to get dumped when your respectability is judged by the discovery you didn’t go to the beach before college (by someone who sells Obama puzzles at the African marketplace, no less).
Jack’d and Grindr are where a bunch of insecure faceless profiles send you ass shots or dick pics with only an accompanying “sup,” usually with some horribly offensive line in their bio about weight, gender presentation, race, or HIV. (Molly didn’t actually explain this one, but I thought you should know.)
The point is, dating apps offer a lot of options we were missing previously, and that’s great. Sometimes you really just want a “fuck app.” But, ultimately, apps—and all of our other social developments around sexuality—simply open you up to more of what is out there, and the god’s honest truth is that most of what’s out there is shit. Even the sexually liberated things that are out there are sexually liberated shit.
At the end of the episode, Issa finally goes back to her ex. After weighing her options, she decides to remain with what was comfortable, even though comfort never asked to give her head first thing in the morning. And that’s okay. Sometimes, what we think we want isn’t really what we want, and sometimes what we don’t want isn’t all bad. Sometimes, the most important thing is just being able to ask those questions and weigh those options and openly challenge the world and yourself so you can make an informed decision about which shit smells most toxin-free.
I’ve never dated anyone who was perfect, and I never will. I don’t know if polyamory or monogamy work best for me yet. What I am learning, along with Issa, is that everything has its pros and cons and everything takes work and compromise. Maybe I want to be someone’s breakfast sometimes and maybe all I need to do is let them know what I want. Maybe I need to make myself more edible. Maybe the person best for me can’t give me that, and I’ll just have to deal. Maybe what’s best is no one at all. Or maybe best is someone today but not tomorrow.
Life is messy, and maybe the point isn’t to fix it or find a perfect way through it, but just to learn how to deal with it.
Hari Ziyad is a Brooklyn-based storyteller and the Editor-in-Chief of RaceBaitR. Their work has been featured on Gawker, Out, Ebony, Mic, The Guardian, Colorlines, Black Girl Dangerous, Young Colored and Angry, The Feminist Wire and The Each Other Project. They are also an assistant editor for Vinyl Poetry & Prose and a contributing writer for Everyday Feminism.