SOFT & SWEET
Who came up with the idea that women had to be sweet and why does it matter?
I was at the mall in Walnut Creek with my boyfriend. I was at the point in my life where hearing non-Blacks use the N word would boil my skin and make me rage with anger and sass. My boyfriend at the time didn’t have this issue. He was always calm, reserved & laid back. Neither of us was tall or big for that matter. As we’re walking through the mall, I hear a group of Asian guys coming down the stairs. They were loud and rambunctious. They were also very big and there were about 7 or 8 of them. A few people heard them and turned their heads to see what all the commotion was. They weren’t doing anything I hadn’t done as a teenager. They were young, at the mall, hanging out and having fun. I caught the N word fly out of their mouths and it stopped me in my tracks.
Me being a sassy, big-mouthed girl with an attitude and not ever liking to hear these words coming from other races, (which was stupid because wanting to use this word & holding onto it as a badge of honor for being Black in general is pointless to me now) I took it upon myself to say very LOUDLY, “I know he didn’t just say n*gga! If you ain’t Black, you don’t need to be saying n*gga!”
Lucky for me, (and probably my boyfriend too) they ignored me. My boyfriend pulled me to the side after we passed them, he looked me straight in the eye and very seriously and calmly said to me, “Deja, please don’t do that. We’re a Black couple in Walnut Creek alone. If one of them had responded to you and got disrespectful, I woulda had to fight all of them. I coulda went to jail. It could’ve gotten ugly. If somebody is harming you, I’m here to protect you. But otherwise, we gotta mind our own business and you can’t be talking to people like that.”
Years have gone by since this happened, but I gotta applaud this guy for how he handled this and for not responding with aggression. I was entirely out of pocket. Running my mouth. Trying to be tough. Biting off more than I can chew.
That day served to be a lesson for me. Not only to stop trying to bully other races for their choice of language or from initiating drama, but it taught me that I wasn’t being very lady-like.
It was important for me to recognize that in a fight with 8 big men, I am not able to pair up. I’m NOT a man. I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want to have fist fights with men. I don’t want to start arguments with a group of men unnecessarily for various reasons, but obviously because I can’t protect myself.
So often I have gotten to running this mouth of mine, not truly considering that I’m talking to a man. And the contrast became clear to me on this day. Being lady-like isn’t about being a doormat. And I’m not suggesting that certain women couldn’t fight 7 or 8 tall men and win. What I’m saying is, there’s a time to be quiet.
I was once in the backseat with my friend and her boyfriend. They were having problems and it was so tense in that backseat I couldn’t wait to get out of the car. She kept insinuating that he was no good in conversations that didn’t have much to do with that. The lips were smacking. The neck was rolling. And the words coming out of her mouth suggested that she could fight him and win. Finally having had enough of it, he snapped. He went off on her and if arguments could really be won, he should’ve had a gold medal for this one. But, the point of this story is, she kept running her mouth. It wasn’t the time or the place or the way to speak to a man.
A lot of my friends and family have been in abusive relationships. And before those relationships became abusive, a lot of issues started with sassy mouths and attitude. I don’t agree with domestic violence in any way. However, I do have to admit I’ve seen many women provoke a man by speaking foul words in front of people, putting their hands on them first, putting their fingers in their face, threatening them, calling them out of their name etc.
All these years of arguing and snapping, I’ve just come to understand that it works better to be a lady and shut up about things that aren’t important. I learned to be sweet as often as possible. Be kind as often as possible. Don’t stick around with anyone who brings it out of you to provoke violence or to bring out the side of you that is out of control and crazy. Don’t use your mouth to start what you can’t finish.
Women are powerful. We have so much to contribute to each other and to men. But I want to say that our attitudes get in the way. Let me repeat that. OUR ATTITUDES GET IN THE WAY. It’s something I have to work on all the time. I’ve gotten better. But it’s a journey and I have to share my story because I have had such a better time since just learning to shut up.
Take a chance to think things all the way through. Remember who you’re talking to and where you are. Think of the outcome of those words. Think of the outcome of that attitude and sass. If all else fails, you can call your girlfriends and vent a little bit (without giving too many details) to get it out of your system, but we can’t talk to men like they’re not men and expect them to be okay with it. Remember there aren’t many situations that can’t be solved with respect, grace and love. There may be times when we have to get tough, but there’s nothing wrong with being soft and sweet. Especially towards a man that loves you.
Thank you for reading. Leave a comment if you want to. Check out my latest #MondayLoveDrop below: