Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet vs Sassy

Tyra Banks with boyfriend, multi-millionaire investment banker John Utendahl.

Usually, I try to make posts that have some basis in research, but in this instance I will do something that the Something Screwed Crew does regularly. That would be to address a point that is based mostly on perception and observation (with the SSC, I would add "alleged perception" and "alleged observation"). The point of this article is to address something that I have discussed with other black men regarding their observations and experiences with black women; that something being the greater tendency to embrace sassiness and the tendency for such sassiness to shove sweetness to the side. Hence, "Sweetness vs Sassiness".

I use these two terms because they are often used together. The phrase, "sweet and sassy" is a familiar phrase that has been used to positively describe women, notably black women, in the past. And I stress "positive" because together, "sweet" and "sassy" can produce something that is actually rather appealing. The problem is that in today's time, sassiness has expanded at the expense of sweetness among our sistas. This is in no way shape nor form to say that there are not sweet black women, for that would be a total falsehood. I have met many of them and the young ladies who participate in this blog circle impress me as being quite sweet among other good things. But I would say that sweetness is disproportionately lacking among African American women.

Now I think that it is important to look at the definitions of "sweet" and "sassy". At The Free Dictionary, "sassy", as related to attitude, is defined as:

1. Rude and disrespectful; impudent.
2. Lively and spirited; jaunty.

Now, definition #1 has a negative connotation while definition #2 would probably overwhelmingly be viewed as positive. I believe that there is a fine line between the two definitions and that there is something that plays a large role as to whether the line is crossed to definition #1 or crossed to definition #2. That thing is the presence of sweetness.

I believe that sassiness without the balance of sweetness becomes something unpleasant. On the other hand, sweetness without sassiness remains something pleasant, albeit with possibly less of a thrill. Lets look at the definition of "sweet" as it relates to attitude:

4. Having a pleasing disposition; lovable: a sweet child.
5. Kind; gracious: It was sweet of him to help out.

As you can see, there is no negative connotation in the definition of "sweet". Thus, sassiness is not needed to keep sweetness positive. I think that this is one of the reasons why certain groups of women who lack the "sexy sassiness" that is common with black women tend more to have long lasting relationships and are more likely to marry than black women.

And yes, sassiness can be sexy. Unfortunately, many women seem to have trouble differentiating between the attention garnered from arrousing a man's loins as opposed to arrousing his heart. Wearing hoochie clothing is sexy. Booty claps are sexy. Wet t-shirts are sexy. But none of these are things that win a man's heart. Sassiness needs to be tempered by sweetness, otherwise you have a person who may be desirable, yet not very likeable.

This brings to mind something that I have noticed throughout the years. Being a boxing fan, I have tuned in to many fights both on television and in person. Quite often, the fights are attended by the spouses, fiances or girlfriends of the fighters. These women are black, white, Latino, Asian, etc. There are some trends that I have noticed with regard to how these women respond to their men being in a squared circle punching it out. With the black women, the overwhelming response is heavy cheering. Often the cheering is accompanied by a lot of bragging and sh*t talking. Yes, these women are fully supporting their men and are strongly rooting them on. Yet, if their men are the fan favorites, they are doing no more than what most of the people in the arena are doing.

On the other hand, a common response by the white wives, girlfriends, fiances, etc. is to have a look of worry. Some often have their eyes covered or look like they are close to tears. They have a look that says that they are more worried about their men's well being than they are about his performance in the fight. They have a look on their faces that is not shared by hardly anyone else in the arena.

This example exemplifies the differences between sweetness and sassiness; the difference between caring and being "lively and spirited; jaunty".


Truth B. Told said...

I think your post is also touching on the difference between assertiveness and aggressivness, another boundary that some black women cross over.

Assertiveness is simply confidently standing your ground while trying to get what you want.

Aggressivenss on the other hand is basically a challenge for control and/or domination. It is a challenge in the face of someone who has been trained to not hit a women (hopefully they have been trained that way). It's as if the woman is thinking "I know you can't hit me, so what the fuck are you gonna do?"

I find assertivness attractive, and aggressiveness triggers my fight/flight response.

Rocky said...

Exactly. "Aggressive" women (as opposed to "assertive" women) tend to be bullies and bullies tend to not respond to reasoning. They tend to respond to harsh responses and when such a woman knows that a harsh response is not coming, she takes that as a signal to further her bullying. This really serves as a negative reinforcement for men who don't hit women and a positive one for men who do.

Chris Rock touched on this in his stand-up when he discussed how a woman can take insults too far such as telling a man "your momma's a b*tch" and then bracing for a blow. When a blow doesn't come, she thinks to herself "I've got him now" and proceeds to tell him that she f*cked all of his friend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Rocky,

great post. I think what Black men crave most of all in the Black com is femininity. This unfortunately is sadly lacking in Black women.

They are without doubt the most emphatically female-looking of all races of women but paradoxically, they are also the least feminine!

Menelik/Mel Charles

ps I've sent you the post...6,000 words long lol

Rocky said...

Hey, Mel. I sent you a response and some questions. Check it out.

Neenah said...

Are you a real loser or are you just pretending?