Could we have another less ‘sexist’, less ‘macho’ term than “sissy”, do you think? For the female readers that contribute to your page view stats, the term smacks of ‘boys with toys (sigh)’. For me, term detracts from the mostly excellent content.
As soon as I read that question I had a flashback to my student years when I was working towards my Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies in Washington DC. One evening, we were sitting with a group of students and discussing various Russian study programs when I mentioned that one of the very best one I have ever seen was the Russian studies program at Bryn Mawr College. I then mentioned that it was too bad that it was a “ladies-only college” (that was in 1990 or 1991 – not sure if they are now coed or not). One American woman (you will see why I use this term in a few seconds) got very upset and told me the following: “To use the word “lady” is sexist and offensive because under a thin semblance of respect it really implies that woman are weak and need male protection“. I asked her what the appropriate term would be and she said “women” (she left it unclear whether she would spell that “women” or “womyn”). At this point she and I reached a full agreement and I promised her that I would never speak of her again as a “lady” but only as a “woman”. Needless to say, I continued to refer to other adult females as “ladies”. Still do.
That was the first time in my life that I was told that the word “lady” was offensive, but that sure was not the last time as I came to realize that the “feminist vocabulary police” was busy shaping many languages in the West. Jumping ahead of myself I would add that this “feminist vocabulary police” has now been joined by a no less aggressive “homosexual vocabulary police” so from now on I will be referring to this as “sexual vocabulary police” (the “West’s finest”?).
Now turning to my use of the word “sissy”. Let’s begin by a definition, this time taken from Wikipedia:
Sissy (derived from sister; also sissy baby, sissy boy, sissy man, etc.) is a pejorative term for a boy or man who violates or does not meet the standard male gender role. Generally, sissy implies a lack of courage, strength, coordination, testosterone, male libido, and stoicism, which have traditionally been important to the male role. A man might also be considered a sissy for being interested in traditionally feminine hobbies or employment (e.g., being fond of fashion), displaying effeminate behavior (e.g. using hair products or displaying limp wrists), being unathletic, or being homosexual. Sissy is, approximately, the male converse of tomboy (a girl with masculine traits or interests), but has none of the latter’s positive connotations. Even amongst gay men, behavior thought of as sissy or camp produces mixed reactions. Some men reclaim the term for themselves. The term sissyphobia denotes a negative cultural reaction against “sissy boys” thought prevalent in 1974. Sissyphobia has more recently been used in some queer studies; other authors in this latter area have proposed effeminiphobia as an alternative term.
First, the blue part very accurately expresses my beef with Obama, Kerry, Hagel and all the other mediocrities sitting in the White House and Congress. So my short reply to Carrie would be: if the word “sissy’ exactly conveys the meaning I was trying to get across, why should I not use it?
The rest of the definition is the typical cocktail of idiotic issues which seem to preoccupy the insecure and narcissistic segment of our society which I call the “sexual vocabulary police”. Think about it: however wrote the 2nd part of this definition is clearly a “me, myself and I” kind of person who strongly feels that his/her sensitivities must be important to the rest of the population (hence the absolutely serious discussion about comparative merits of the terms “sissyphobia” versus “effeminiphobia” in the context of, I kid you not, “queer studies”!).
Fair enough – to each his own – but why would I care?!
Well, it get’s better. Check out the rest of this Wikipedia entry:
Term of affection toward women
Sissy (or sis) can also be a relationship nickname formed from sister, given to girls to indicate their role in the family, especially the oldest female sibling. It can also be applied to girls as a term of affection from friends who are not family members. (See Sissy Spacek.)
In gender and queer studies
Gregory M. Herek wrote that sissyphobia arises as combination of misogyny and homophobia. Communication scholar Shinsuke Eguchi (2011) stated:
The discourse of straight-acting produces and reproduces anti-femininity and homophobia(Clarkson. 2006). For example, feminine gay men are often labeled “fem,” “bitchy,” “pissy,” “sissy,” or “queen” (e.g., Christian, 2005; Clarkson, 2006; Payne,2007). They are perceived as if they perform like “women,” spurring straight-acting gay men to have negative attitudes toward gay feminine men (Clarkson, 2006; Payne, 2007;Ward, 2000). This is called sissyphobia (Bergling, 2001). Kimmel (1996) supports that “masculinity has been (historically) defined as the flight from women and the repudiation of femininity” (p. 123). Thus, sissyphobia plays as the communication strategy for straight-acting gay men to justify and empower their masculinity. (p. 38).
Eguchi added, “I wonder how ‘sissyphobia’ particularly plays into the dynamic of domestic violence processes in the straight-acting and effeminate-acting male same-sex coupling pattern.” (p. 53).
In sexual subcultures
In the BDSM practice of forced feminization, the male bottom undergoing cross-dressing may be called a sissy as a form of erotic humiliation, which may elicit guilt or sexual arousal, or possibly both, depending on the individual. In (paraphilic) infantilism, a sissy baby is a man who likes to play the role of a baby girl.
What in God’s name are they talking about?! What is this cornucopia of sexual pathologies supposed to tell us? That the only proper way to use the word sissy is when trying to elicit sexual arousal in a man playing the role of a baby?!
Let’s try to limit this discussion within the assumption that all the parties involved are basically balanced, mature and sane.
I notice that Carrie find my use of the word “sissy” objectionable even though she is a woman. Maybe, but I was not referring to a woman, I was referring to Obama or, even more accurately, to his *attack options* (which is a logical category, not even something alive or material). Besides, Wikipedia clearly says that when applied to women the terms “sissy” is a term of endearment. So what is the problem here?
I will wholeheartedly admit that women are treated terribly in the Western world. From the appalling rape statistics, to poverty, to the misery of single mother homes, to widespread domestic violence, to the denial of any social recognition of the hard work of the “stay at home mom” – there is much to be offended by in our society. So why this obsession with words? Is it simply because it is easier to obtain a change in the use of a word then to change the reality we live in?
My personal conclusion is the following one: we are living in a society were any forms of sexual differentiation are being ostracized. God forbid you use a word which might be “female-specific” or “too feminine” because the simple of that word reaffirms and reinforces the differences between genders and that, in turn, is offensive to those who find the very notion of differences in genders offensive. What this “sexual vocabulary police” really wants is to turn our daily use of words into a “linguistic Michael Jackson” who was neither White nor Black, to really male or female, not quite an adult or a kid. Jackson was the ultimate non-identity acceptable to all because of the inherent (and, in reality, carefully constructed) vapidity of his stage persona.
Do you still remember what happened to Obama when he said about California Attorney General Kamala Harris:”She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough, she also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country”. He got attacked for being sexist! Nevermind that Mrs Harris goes out of her way to look good (check her photos for makeup, lipstick, jewelry, expensive dresses, etc.) – a President cannot acknowledge that because that is a gender-specific comment which, in turn, implies that women should/could be judged by their looks, which is, by logical implication, not something which would happen to a man.
And here the feminists and the homo-lobbyists meet each other: both a dead set into literally train us not to discriminate between genders or sexual behaviors. Thus even the word “discriminate” which really means being able to identify differences has now become associated with racism and injustice. How totally stupid can a society become?!
Speaking for myself, not only do I discriminate, I go out of my way to teach that skill to my kids. In fact, the more people get brainwashed into not discriminating, the more effort I put into teaching my kids how crucial discrimination is not only for biological life (that is what our immune system does 24/7 – it discriminates), but also for our psychological and spiritual lives (which both feature the psychological and spiritual equivalents of our physiological immune systems). In fact, I am so sick and tired of the insecure narcissistic types and their constant demand that we all comply with their latest demands that I make it a point to not let this kind of wholly illegitimate behavior go unchallenged. Any my reply to the sexual vocabulary police” is this:
Live and let live. You like the infinite grayness of non-gender differentiated people – please, be my guest and enjoy. But let me enjoy and cherish masculinity in men and femininity in women. To me, every single difference between the character of man and woman is beautiful and deeply enjoyable – for both parties – and they are the basis of the wonderful complementarity of genders. I have been privileged to meet many truly intelligent, courageous, strong and otherwise “tough” women in my life, and yet all of them also remained truly feminine which only added to their other qualities. I find it very sad when a woman turns away from her femininity and tries to look like a man, because most of the time they succeed. This is just as sad as an Asian or African person trying to look White.
Socially, I come from a culture and a religion which energetically fosters and promotes gender differentiation and I like to think of our families as “gender differentiated families”. When I see the modern kids who are left with two “Michael Jacksons” as “parents” I feel heartbroken for them because I know for a fact that it is impossible to raise a healthy child and balanced without a real father and real mother at home (I was raised by my mother with no father, so I speak of personal experience). Thanks to the “sexual vocabulary police” and the rest of the “sexual lobbies” out there our society is turning into a society of orphans, who have neither father nor mother and who are now even denied their gender. If that is what you like – fine. But you have no right to impose your preferences on the rest of us. You don’t like discrimination? Please, poke out your own eyes and enjoy the discrimination-free darkness, but don’t start coming after my eyes as I cherish them very much.
In conclusion I will say that I am really getting sick and tired of constantly discussing sexual issues. When Putin was in Holland he was amazed that this was the only topic of interest to the press corps. Well, he is a political figure and so he has to deal with this nonsense. I don’t. I have made my views on homosexuality quite clear (here and here) and I have made my point of view about the “sexual vocabulary police” quite clear today. I think that anybody who has read these posts will be able to easily guess my opinion on feminism. As Michael Parenti recently put it, it is waste of time to discuss sexual orientation issues when most people come home from work too exhausted to have sex.
So now let’s return to the truly important issues of our times and stop paying attention to the narrow agenda for a small part of our society which is insecure, narcissistic and yet very obnoxious. Let the corporate press deal with that topic. As for me, I am done with this incredibly boring topic.
PS: just when I wrote the last sentence above a friend of mine drew my attention to the following article in Salon:
Yeah! There we go. Another “luminary” of the modern world has the courage to take it to the next level!!