Last Wednesday during the Vice President debate, actress and singer Emmy Rossum took to Twitter to comment on Senator Harris’ now iconic ‘I’m Speaking, I’m Speaking’ statement. Resonating with the senator’s response she posted “ Can’t wait to get my I’M SPEAKING shirt.” However, the actress’s excitement was soon disrupted by the unwarranted opinion of an online troll who wrote “Yeah your shirts that say I GET PAID TO GET NAKED ON TV are sold out.” A clear reference to Emmy’s role as Fiona on Shameless, which in addition to exploring sexuality also includes various sexual scenes. The actress wasted no time clapping back at the abhorrently sexist comment writing “ I get paid to tell stories and life sometimes involves this awesome thing called sex. Maybe you’ve just never had any so you don’t know.” The actress’s flawless comeback shut down the troll, but this is not the first time she’s received unwarranted criticism for her displays of sexual intimacy on the screen. And unfortunately, she’s not the only one.
Our society and media have a long history of repressing the sexuality of women. Though in 2020, we have come a long way in understanding and respecting women’s sexuality, Emmy’s unpleasant encounter show’s us we still have a long way to go. Just this summer, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s hit song WAP hit the charts, instantly becoming a summer jam. The rap was an anthem for female sexuality and heralded sexual acts focused on female pleasure, and subsequently became a champion for female sexual empowerment. However, just as thousands across the world loved WAP, many also hated the song labeling it as ‘crude’ and ‘inappropriate.’ Cardi B defended her new song against critics stating “The people that the song bothers are usually conservatives or really religious people, but my thing is I grew up listening to this type of music.
“Other people might think it’s strange and vulgar, but to me, it’s almost like really normal, you know what I’m saying,” Like Emmy, this isn’t the first time the rapper has come under fire for her ‘vulgar’ lyrics, but neither of these ladies seems to be changing their stances anytime soon. Both Emmy and Cardi have work that explores female sexuality. They do it in a way meant to be explorative and uplifting because sex is a part of life. If we’re ever going to get past sexist stereotypes that dominate society, then it’s time we’ve embraced this and stop reducing women to asexual delicate creatures. Emmy said it best during an interview with Paste Magazine stating “Sexuality is a part of life, I hope, and it’s interesting that the women on the stage get to write, and we get to show characters. We get to explore the intimate parts of them, be that anger or loss or happiness or sexuality. What’s so great about the shows on Showtime and these women up here is that they don’t show in a gratuitous way.”
Understanding and exploring sex and sexuality is not only a part of life, but its a huge part that has for years been forbidden for women to engage in. Now in 2020, it’s time to shred these outdated and demeaning expectations of women and give women the space and platform to express themselves and their sexuality. This means listening and creating safe spaces for these ideas to be fostered and expressed. Comments like the one Emmy received have no place in a world of progress.