Last week, Twitter lost its collective mind over Empire. Not because of anything snappy Cookie said or wore on the show, but because of a sex scene.
Now, we’ve seen plenty of characters on the show knock boots, so what gives?
This particular sex scene was between Becky, played by Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe, and MC J Poppa, played by actor Mo McRae. And while I wholeheartedly believe that this minuscule role is beneath her skillset, it was nice to see Becky get a real plotline, and, most importantly, to see larger gal get laid — an act that, let’s be honest, we rarely ever see on television.
The actress herself felt really good about the steamy rooftop scene, despite being nervous while shooting it. She told People:
“I'm really, really proud of it. I think the scene was really fun and lovely and sexy. I felt beautiful, and I felt comfortable, and I didn't look nervous at all, and I was kind of nervous, so I'm really glad that that didn't come across.”
I’m fully aware that a huge part of Twitter culture is to crack jokes, even on the border of being mean, but these tweets are an all-time low of that culture. Maybe it’s me, but sending the message that skinny and/or shapely women like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Kerry Washington are the only ones who are allowed to have sex and enjoy it is problematic. Seeing Black folks come for our own as a means to devalue and laugh at bigger Black women just isn’t my thing.
But this message isn’t new or rare. Since slavery, women like Sidibe, especially those who are dark-skinned, have been labeled Mammies and stripped of any ounce of sexuality, only existing to take care of other people and to be comic relief. And unfortunately in present day, we haven’t evolved past this limited notion of who these women actually are. But trust, they are more than the sassy co-worker or the welfare queen or the church mother or the victim. They are human beings who have sex just like the rest of us and they are desired just like the rest us.
So, please, can you explain why you so mad?
Speaking of being mad, Sidibe is probably exhausted from having to defend her weight (and worth) for most of her life. She clapped all the way back, telling Entertainment Weekly:
"Also, yes. I, a plus sized, dark-skinned woman, had a love scene on primetime television…I keep hearing that people are 'hating' on it. I'm not sure how anyone could hate on love but that's okay. You may have your memes. Honestly, I'm at work too busy to check Twitter anyway. #Booked."
And while she may have shut down her haters by throwing some much-deserved shade, for many other overweight and obese Black women, this conversation is still being had — as it should be, thanks to #MyFatSexStory. Started by sex expert and blogger Sesali B, this hashtag was created for women to not only share some hot past sexual encounters, but to have honest and unapologetic conversations about how their weight, sex lives and self-worth collide.
Real talk: It takes real courage to be this raw for the world to see. But it's also a reminder that "jokes" are not always harmless and that behind each butt of one is an actual living, breathing person whose feelings, self-worth and life may be impacted by our own willful ignorance.
Now, I am not naïve enough to believe that a television plotline or progressive hashtag is going to make anyone change their minds about what they find to be aesthetically pleasing. But one can only hope that this particular pop culture moment will remind folks to really think before they tweet and hammer in this notion that BMI doesn’t determine who can access sex, lust and intimacy.
Love exists for all of us.
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(Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX)
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