Beyoncé has been advocating feminine power since her time in Destiny’s Child with songs such as “Survivor,” “Independent Woman,” “Bug A Boo,” and many others. In B’Day, we see this same energy and strength in her tracklist.
In the song, “Suga Mama,” Beyoncé plays with the concepts of gender roles and flips the notion on its head. The song is about a woman getting pleasure from a man who she is also financially providing for, reversing what a sugar daddy does. Beyoncé is talking about controlling a man through finances, whether it’s buying clothes for him or directing him to please her, which heightens the emphasis on gender roles in a sexual context.
The sugary and sweet references she makes can be seen as illusions to getting not only sexual gratification but financial gratification. Ironically, if you have been following previous posts, we have spoken about Venus and her symbolic meanings. Venus rules over both sweets, sex, love, and money; so it’s fascinating that someone as multi-faceted as Beyoncé can sneak in a double entendre about what exactly kind of sugar is being given and received. This is a bold statement for the audience; Beyoncé emphasizes and critiques gender norms by being some man’s sugar mama because she’s presenting women in power in a positive light.
We see Beyoncé sexualizing the man, directing him to “come sit on mama lap” as if she was the one dictating the relationship. Since it’s common for women to be sexualized in a relationship, she’s playing into that unconscious expectation - she’s choosing to be the one in control instead. She’s telling a grown man to sit on her lap like a child.
This can be symbolic of how women are commonly seen as caregivers, specifically for children, since they are the ones who birth them and nurture them until they can manage on their own. This takes the naive maiden archetype and flips it as men, specifically in this patriarchal society, are viewed as the ones who dominate in most avenues. They are seen as the sole breadwinners. But by having the woman dominant in regards to finances and sex, she is showing a form of empowerment because women also play a part in these gender roles and this is a symbolic liberation of that. Beyoncé exemplifies this empowerment of women by noting that women don’t need to be taken care of since we can provide for ourselves and our partners if we choose so.
In the lyrics, she talks about how she can’t get enough of him, but at the same time, this symbolism of sugar gives the song this sweet-tooth feeling with that can’t-get-enough vibe. Beyoncé shows what it means to lust and be lusted for. This might be about what was going on in her personal life during this time. For example, she was engaged to Jay-Z during this production and release, so the audience is seeing a transition of the relationship from “Crazy In Love” to “Suga Mama” and even “Upgrade U.” This transition touches on the more mature and physical aspects of love, but for Beyoncé, it’s portrayed in a way so that it’s not just sex, it’s the care that comes with those commitments. The lyrics go over how Beyoncé wants to provide for this man and she’ll give him everything just to get some of his sugar.