What Tamar Braxton’s comments about men not wanting sex reveal about compulsory (hetero)sexuality
We have to combat this way of thinking in order to save ourselves from it.
Tamar Braxton has issued a non-apology following some recent comments in which she declared that men who lay beside women for several nights without initiating sex are secretly gay. On Instagram, she posted the following:
The text reads, “The truth is ladies that these dudes out here really do be gay!! It ain’t enough money, beauty, hair, babies in the world to keep them!! They want Dick!! Periodt!! It’s nothing wrong with you, but they will find EVERY reason in the world to make u not good enough!! If he lays with you for 3, 4, 10 days and he don’t touch u, it’s NOT YOU!! HE WANT A MAN!! And that’s on my momma.”
After folks reacted, calling out her apparent insecurities and highlighting the homophobic and queerantagonistic nature of her statement, Braxton responded. Tweeting, “I shouldn’t have been in my feelings & ranted on social media based off a conversation with my friends. I was talking about me but not me and David. I’ve been through a lot.” She also shared a screenshot of the tweet on Instagram with the added scribbled caption, “We all say st*pid shit.”
Addressing the queerantagonism lacing her comments is imperative here, and I’m glad that others have taken the time to do so with care and attention. What underlines Braxton’s assertion is a distrust of queer men and an anxiety around what is perceived to be deviant sexual behavior for a man—”want[ing] DICK.” Not only is it homophobic and contributing to the demonization of queer men’s (assumed) sexual expressions, but it is also cisnormative and reduces the sexuality/orientation of folks who “want a man” to a focus on genitalia.
What I hope we can also acknowledge here is how compulsory (hetero)sexuality breeds this kind of logic, as well as how it places limitations and unfair expectations on us to perform our sexualities under constraints that ultimately do not serve us.
The expectation for cis hetero men to be hypersexual with aggressive and insatiable appetites is just as damaging to them as it is to cis hetero women, who are counted on to be at once wholesome and virginal and always available for men’s sexual consumption and gratification. Many masculinity rituals in fact demand hypersexuality—and, often as a result, encourage irresponsible and unethical sexual/relational engagement with women.
When men are expected to fuck as much and as often as possible while prioritizing their own pleasure over others’ comfort, safety, and well-being, but women are instructed to do the opposite, what is created are countless opportunities and spaces in which sex occurs by coercive, manipulative, abusive, and violative means.
This leaves men with little room to explore sexualities and masculinities that are not rooted in the sexual objectification, commodification, and abuse of women, and participates in the reduction of men’s sexual experiences to mere conquests over other human beings. It also invalidates the possibility of asexuality, low libido, and low sexual interest or priority among men by insisting that they must always perform hypersexually in order to fulfill the accepted social criteria for masculinity and manhood.
But many women internalize all of this shit, too. Under this system of gendered expectations and permissions, our desirability and fuckability become tied up with our personal worth, and it works to skew our own perspectives of ourselves. At a very young age, many of us learn that our value will always be determined by whether or not men find us attractive and fuckable. Regardless of sexuality, many women keep this lesson with us well into adulthood and spend years of our lives trying to unearth ourselves from beneath the weight of it.
Given the history of animalistic and deviant sexuality written on Black folks’ lives and bodies by white colonialist authors, the damage is compounded for us. Too many of us already go about our lives with a warped understanding of what our sexuality is “supposed” to look like—whether cis, hetero, queer, trans, or otherwise.
And while a good number of us are actively doing the work to excavate Black sexuality and rip it from the clutches of white colonialist strongholds, it still leaves us in a fight to understand ourselves and imagine our sexuality as something that is free. Because of this, and a host of other things, I believe that de-centering sex in our understandings of relationships would open up possibilities for even deeper intimacies, more rewarding connections, and more honest conversations.
All Tamar Braxton really did was regurgitate the messages that many of us have always received, and state plainly what a lot of us have been taught, in so many words. But we have to combat this way of thinking in order to save ourselves from it. We have to make space for imagining and embracing our sexualities outside of the rigidity that white colonialist understandings of gender tries to impose on us.