From the Julia Sugarbaker Soapbox: About Sweet

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 

Woman face surrounded by chocolate Deidre Burton Pixabay
Deidre Burton at Pixabay

This is a different sort of post for me.  I try to restrict my posts to topics related to writing, publishing, and images.  This topic has nothing to do with writing — yet it has everything to do with— any and everything, including writing.  It’s about one of my quickest triggers. Every time I think it’s gone away, out come more and more verbal “guns” slinging it. 

“The Julia Sugarbaker Soapbox” is what I call it when I jump up onto my soapbox because of something about which I feel strongly.  (No, that doesn’t mean I’m about to make an exception to my rule about no discussions of politics or religion at my sanctuary.)  Why Julia Sugarbaker? The character brought to life by the late Dixie Carter, could spew out a rant in rapid-fire elegance with eloquence that was unparalleled.  Not that I could ever have a comparable oratory ability… but that’s still what I call it.  So, pardon me climbing onto Julia’s soapbox.

There are two words, that I consider among the most harmful in the English language. Let’s be honest — in my opinion they actually are the most harmful. That’s because both are subtle, but still dig deeply to the roots of confidence, causing it to rot.

Worse, it’s very hard to address, because there are a handful of people who use these two harmful words in true innocence.  Which gives an easy out to the majority who are not innocent at all.

The first of those two ugly words is SHOULD.  However, that’s for a different visit to the Julia Sugarbaker Soapbox. Today’s dirty word is SWEET.

Let Me Tell You About Sweet


No hard feelings to anyone here who has said “You’re so sweet” to me.  It’s simply time that everyone took a long hard look at using that word.  Granted, there are a few people who say it, and it is clearly a natural phrase to them, and I understand.  I’m not trying to get in your face. 

Once when I spoke to someone about “sweet” the woman replied with a complaint, “What else could I say besides sweet!”  I’ll refrain from remarking about vocabulary development…  However, what people who innocently use sweet really mean is KIND, or maybe generous.  Lack of using kind is proof of how our society devalues kindness. I actually had a boss who said my kindness was stupidity. But that’s for yet another visit to the soapbox.


Back to the point

For decades, it has been widely acknowledged that calling another person sweet is passive aggressive behavior.  That’s documented at least as far back as the 1920s. Although, I’m not going to rant bullying or psychology. Let’s look at the word instead.

Sweet is a suitable description for treats and desserts. The sweet I’m talking about is not about foods, or puppies and kittens, or innocent little babies.  Although those are about the only times that stinking word is appropriate. 

It’s so blasted condescending. “You’re sweet,” comes across as the kind of thing they’d say to a small child or someone who was “mentally incapacitated.”  It’s the verbal equivalent of patting a dog’s head.
Simone Dalmeri Unsplash
Simone Dalmeri at Unsplash

“She’s so sweet,” is so much more than simply a backhanded compliment.  

Sweet is a tool of chauvinism, condescension, and bullies.

Sweet is why our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to fight for the right to vote.  Sweet is why there has never been a woman president in the USA.  Sweet is why women still don’t get equal pay for equal work.

Do you still dismiss the idea?  Do you think I’m overreacting, or exaggerating? 

Think about it

orangutan thinking Gerd Altmann Pixabay
Gerd Altmann at Pixabay

She’s so sweet, let’s put her in charge of something important — said nobody ever.

She’s so sweet, she must be the most intelligent person here — said nobody ever.

She’s so sweet, she’s going to be the next CEO of our company — said nobody ever.

She’s so sweet, I’ll bet no one ever cheats her — said nobody ever.

She’s so sweet, I know she’ll stand up for herself — said nobody ever.

She’s so sweet, she must be really good at her job — said nobody ever.

Unless you actually are talking about puppies, kittens, babies, or dessert, maybe you can use a better, more accurate word than Sweet.  Go ahead – build your vocabulary and come up with another word.

Lee Rosario Pixabay
Lee Rosario at Pixabay

In case anyone is fool enough to think it would be funny to say You’re still sweet… (That actually happened once after I had typed this explanation.  I no longer have anything to do with that person.)  As one of my old professors once described herself, I am a high-performance woman.  I can go from zero to B!tch in a millisecond.

While I hope you will have an internal conversation, and analyze your thoughts about Sweet, I’m not inviting discussion here.  Mostly because of the zero to B!tch thing…  Comments are closed.

Wishing you an easy coast down the other side of this midweek hump.  Hugs on the wing.


Copyright © 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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