What is the ‘Sassy Man Apocalypse’ on TikTok?

According to some social media users, we’re currently living in a “Sassy Man Apocalypse.”

The tongue-in-cheek apocalypse was declared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Yatta (@yattadondada) in August 2022, when she posted, “We in a sassy man apocalypse.” The term “sassy,” as it’s used in this context, describes men who display some form of attitude or actions that are generally considered feminine. There’s been plenty of conversation online about what it means to be “sassy,” yet a unified definition still isn’t clear.

According to certain TikToks, sassiness can be shown through eye-rolling, poking lips out for a picture or simply having a cheeky mouth. These traits have started a conversation about traditional, heteronormative expectations for men.

As this concept has moved from X to TikTok over the past year, several trends are taking shape. One of the most popular trends is called the “victim of the sassy man apocalypse.” In these videos, TikTokers post videos of themselves in contact with a “sassy man” and call themselves a victim of the apocalypse.

“The moment I realized I’m a victim of the sassy man apocalypse,” wrote @raquelt08 in her post.

While some TikTokers feel they’ve fallen victim to this “apocalypse,” others have embraced it and made it a key part of their personality.

Prayag (@444pray), who’s become known for his sassiness, has made several videos discussing how he’s embraced the character trait.

“Sassy. I’ve been that. You don’t choose to be sassy. That’s just your personality,” he says in a post. “If it was up to me I would’ve chosen to be nonchalant and sexy. God wanted me to be loud and sassy.”

For many people, the sassy man apocalypse is a lighthearted joke about men who have a smart mouth and an attitude. Yet certain TikTokers have discussed being annoyed by “sassy” men, especially in a relationship context.

In June, members of the Suburb Talks podcast discussed how they felt interacting with a “sassy” man.

During the episode, the question the group went back and forth on was, “Are sassy men too much to handle for most girls?” During the conversation, the hosts debated the optics of a man asking for a good morning text or giving a girlfriend the same level of attitude she gives him, and why some of the co-hosts considered that “sassy.”

Just as the hosts debated whether asking for a text in the morning actually made a man “sassy,” viewers in the comments had similar questions about the assertion.

“I’m trying to figure out how asking for effort is sassy,” replied @thatdudec97.

These differences in expectations are directly related to gender norms, which experts acknowledge are a major part of dating today.

“Everyone has the right to express themselves and their desires in a relationship, regardless of traditional gender roles,” Kalley Hartman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told In The Know by Yahoo. “It’s important for individuals to challenge these gender roles and expectations in relationships and dating.”

Others have gone a step further and argued that because of certain expectations, using the term “sassy” is a quietly homophobic way to disparage men for their “feminine” acts.

“My reason for hating the term or for it to be used as an insult towards a man is because one, it’s rooted in homophobia,” Shakyra Lawson of Timeless Therapeutic (@timelesstheraputic) says in a post.

Lawson spoke with In The Know by Yahoo to expand on her argument in the video.

“Growing up, ‘sassy’ is what little girls were called when they had a ‘bad attitude,'” Lawson said. “I’m not sure when it happened, but it seemed very sudden that men and women began describing men who didn’t instantly do things for a woman or who didn’t subscribe to traditional masculine duties as ‘sassy.’ A quick search on any platform will show that people use the term to emasculate men and bully them into acting in particular ways for their own benefit or as a way to accept perceived rejection.”

Lawson also continued to speak on the homophobia that she feels is connected with the use of “sassy” in her TikTok.

“That’s just unacceptable to call a man gay because he’s not doing something you want or because he’s not acting as masculine as you’d like,” Lawson said in her post on Aug. 23. “And because he is gay does not mean anything bad.”

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