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Vagina runs the world and the victory of sex

I am never one to cape for conservatism, but there is a fine line between true empowerment and attention-seeking. We are currently in an era that is revolutionizing how we discuss the sexuality of marginalized groups and how we portray these groups. 

The patriarchal forces of our society have diligently marketed promiscuity and homoeroticism as inherently disgusting, unnatural and immoral. The indoctrination of homophobia and misogyny has created a somewhat fetishistic regard for the sexuality of women and LGBTQ+ people.

If a film or TV series allows a woman to be portrayed as promiscuous, there will be some subsequent downfall in her character development. Some filmmakers even go as far as to depict the rape of their promiscuous female characters as a way to subconsciously “balance out” her lusty ways. In the 1986 film “She’s Gotta Have It,” for example, Spike Lee depicted his protagonist Nola Darling as being assaulted by one of her possessive partners.

Lee has since realized his mistake, but he didn’t improve his portrayal of Nola all that much in his 2017 Netflix adaptation. He replaced the rape scene with borderline excessive scenes of a nude Dewanda Wise. Lee also went as far as to sexualize her relationship with the character Opal, who made up about an episode and a half’s worth of screen time, the majority of it spent completely nude.

Gay men don’t get a better depiction in the media either. The only men who are allowed to be openly gay are men who are flamboyant hairdressers and effeminate sidekicks. The “masculine” gay men are all severely closeted and self-loathing, or in the case of HBO’s “Oz,” they discover their sexuality via rape and torture.

With the cycle of objectification and fetishization of these groups, I understand the need for reclamation and politicization of sexuality, but I feel our current methods are equally regressive.

I want flamboyance and overt sexuality to be celebrated in the media. Simultaneously, I don’t want the narrative to be spun that men who aren’t flamboyant must necessarily be ashamed of their sexual orientation or in some form of denial. For all we know, they could be perfectly happy just the way they are. I would also like to see sexual exploration, especially for black men, depicted in a way that doesn’t always degenerate into rape or other forms of lifelong trauma.

I want people like Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj to be celebrated, too, but I don’t want women to have to be naked or stripper-adjacent to feel “liberated.” I want women to be given a safe space to accept their bodies, without having to broadcast them. I want the media to stop portraying us as a monolith. I want women to be comfortable with sex and sexuality without feeling forced to display themselves in an overtly sexual manner.

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The history of appropriating marginalized sexuality has garnered a rise of overt sexuality. The 1980s to the present have revolutionized how marginalized groups present themselves.

Female rappers and actresses incorporate sex appeal into their platforms. The mainstream music scene is heavily seasoned with explicit lyrics about taboo subjects,s such as fellatio, sex work, and nontraditional relationships. Queer groups, through literature like the “Act Up Manifesto,” boldly declare “every time we f—, we win.”

Society has long expected marginalized groups to be “seen, not heard,” so repurposing historical (and current) abuse can be empowering. But it has its downsides.

The biggest mistake that I see being made is an attempt to reshape the mold of these groups. Cowardice, prudishness and conservatism are traits often attributed to those who don’t present themselves in the manner of the new champions of pride and feminist movements.

There is nothing wrong with reclaiming the sexuality that has been tabooed in our society for so long, but there should be a mutual understanding on all sides. The key to true liberation isn’t reshaping a mold to fit a liberal paradigm; it’s abolishing all stereotypical expectations altogether.

Whether a person is “reserved,” “explicit,” “audacious” or “submissive,” no one should be expected to prove themselves in their personal sexual practices and presentation. We should welcome all nuances in sexual expression and fight against the fetishization and appropriation of our representation.