Women across the Internet have long dreaded the sassy men apocalypse. Whether it is men using full stops during arguments, giving their partners the hard shoulder, or trying to have the last say with a comeback, women have flocked to our socials to lament. But, as always, the term’s repeated use sometimes revealed a more insidious undertone where men were labeled sassy for mere self-expression.
Unpacking it further on the Wunmi Bello podcast, Dami spoke about his feelings concerning the supposed sassy avalanche and how he dresses. Dami has been known to shake up the black social media sphere a few times, e.g., for his Maison Margiela boots and flared trousers. He said, “I like dressing in a funky way, something just different,” yet the first thing he hears is, “It’s giving sassy or zesty vibes.”
While unbothered, he explained that men have many layers but are afraid to show them if they are perceived as ‘less manly.’ The paradox is strange: “Women want men to be more in touch with their emotions and playful, yet we get called sassy and zesty.”
While the label was initially harmless, the undertone is now questionable. ‘Sassy’ has become a veiled way of calling a man ‘gay’ or ‘feminine.’ From this, it follows that there is only one way to be a heterosexual man – to be stoic, love quietly, or dress monotonously. All the stereotypes we draw on find their subtle root in the patriarchy: traditional notions tell us that only women take an interest in fashion. When a man has such an interest, it is seen as transgressive and labeled ‘sassy.’ Ultimately, we seem to want the archetype of a man instead of the varied realities of who they are.
The irony of the term is self-evident, considering its popularity in an age obsessed with social consciousness. The 2020s have seen an increasing awareness of third-wave feminism: feminism and hyper-masculinity are frequently discussed online and offline in formal and informal contexts. So the term’s use, when problematic, feels atypical within our times. We’ve managed to cherry-pick and accept the more palatable aspects of the patriarchy at the expense of individuality.
So the term’s initial neutrality faded and exposed our culture’s hidden conservatism. At first glance, ‘sassy’ men are celebrated. However, the reality is that they sit uncomfortably within our culture’s leaning towards archetypal masculinity.
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