WARNING: If you’ve still yet to watch the season finale of Insecure, there are major spoilers in this article.
Who knew this would turn into such a debate? If you watched the season finale of Issa Rae’s breakout hit HBO show, Insecure, then you know why everybody is talking about it. Within a week of the finale’s first airing, social media sparked a debate about relationship double standards, cheating, independent females and the so-called “good guy.”
But before I share, my two lessons learned, let me recap.
The finale featured a devastating ending to a lackluster relationship between the main character, Issa, and her boyfriend, Lawrence.
Issa cheated on Lawrence, who pretty much spent half of their four-year relationship chasing a dream to be an entrepreneur (but ended up spending most of the time on the couch), while Isa worked to financially and emotionally support her man. It appeared Lawrence was ready to forgive Issa, but in a surprise ending, abandons her and spends the night with “Tasha the bank teller” who’d been giving not so subtle hints to Lawrence that she was interested in him.
Folks are fussing about whether Lawrence was justified in leaving Issa after she cheated on him or if Issa got a raw deal because she stood by her man through most of his financial ups and downs, only to have him leave her for another woman. Those on #TeamLawrence, mostly the fellas, are claiming that it is only natural for a him to end up with the bank teller because she unconditionally supported his dreams while Issa was on his case about getting a job. #TeamIssa, on the other hand, insists that Lawrence’s “sorry-not-sorry” revenge sex with Tasha only underscores the double standard for women in relationships.
Women are almost expected to stand by their man even through infidelity, but men will put those fingers up and move on when their egos are bruised.
I’m not suggesting that Lawrence should have automatically forgiven Issa. Infidelity can be a deal breaker for many people, men and women, and Issa seemed to have taken the easy way out of dealing with her relationship frustrations with Lawrence. However, #TeamIssa has a point: It seems there’s an unspoken code of conduct for black women to follow in their relationships: Support your man by always believing in his dreams (even if he doesn’t have a plan). Stand by your man even if he steps out on the relationship. Sacrifice your emotional, financial and physical needs for the good of the family. Silence your frustrations and always be sweet in your communication with him, or you’ll push him into the arms of another woman who is willing to (literally) bend over backward for him. He’s a good man, even if he isn’t a great partner, so be strong for him, even if the burden is too heavy a load to bear.
?Taking notes from #insecurehbo. If a woman wakes up and uncharacteristically makes you a huge breakfast, she definitely cheated.
— Phella (@PhellaDaFam) December 7, 2016
— Medium Shirley ?? (@interstate6) December 7, 2016
Salute that man Lawrence…Not only was bank teller bae an upgrade. His pettiness was done for the culture and necessary #InsecureHBO
— Ryan Mason (@rcmason1) December 7, 2016
Just because Tasha boosted Lawrence ego on those 3 encounters, doesn't mean she was a better catch… #InsecureHBO
— Melanie Jones (@1RarestRose) December 7, 2016
A quick search of the #blacklove memes circulating the Internet will reveal ones that celebrate The Real MVP women who can speak to the champion in a man before he’s ever crowned. We’re told that the payoff for building a man’s self-esteem, dream and bank account will result in the ultimate prize: his last name. However, I’ve talked to so many women who stuck with a man through the bad times, only to see him clean himself up, dust himself off and then marry someone else once he got on his own two feet.
The show seemed to rip open this wound for many sisters who felt like Lawrence was taking the easy way out. Instead, of being vulnerable and sharing his pain and frustrations with Issa, he ran to a woman who was willing to stroke his ego (and stroked something else *clears throat*) but who didn’t have to suffer through the down times like Issa did.
I believe Issa doesn’t get a pass for her behavior. She most likely should have just walked away from the relationship if she was really feeling like she was settling for less, instead of giving in to the temptation to cheat. However, I believe the way Lawrence decided to move on shouldn’t be celebrated either because it suggests women should be punished and humiliated when they don’t silently wait for their men to get their lives together.
Regardless of whether you’re #TeamIssa or #TeamLawrence, you should know that in a relationship, no one is obligated to stick around and wait until the other person has decided what he or she wants to do. Each partner needs to learn how to be open, honest and vulnerable with each other, instead of acting out through infidelity.
BMWK, do you think there’s a double standard when it comes to women and men cheating in relationships?