The Presbyterian Outlook: Blessed Are the Sissies

Today’s mail brought the current issue of the “Presbyterian Outlook” magazine. The cover article is about retirement, a topic near-and-dear to our hearts, as Melinda and I have both passed the magic milestone of 59-1/2 — when we can start drawing from our IRA accounts without incurring penalties. Retirement may be just around the corner. Or not, depending on the economy… I haven’t even opened the magazine yet.

However, I find the choice of words on the cover to be sad and inappropriate: “Retirement: Not for sissies.”

What’s a sissy? Here’s what the dictionary says:

SISSY
sis·sy/ˈsisē/
Noun: A person regarded as effeminate or cowardly.
Adjective: Feeble and cowardly.
Synonyms: girlish

In the queer community to a great deal, and to a somewhat lesser degree in the church, we’ve examined the issue of bullying. We just observed the anniversary of the 1998 torture and murder of Matthew Shepard; this could be considered to be the epitome of bully-versus-sissy. Certainly there isn’t a universal condemnation of bullying, with stories being told every day. But it’s getting some much-needed attention through the week-long examination of the subject on Anderson Cooper’s CNN segments this week.

So tell me: is this use of this offensive word anti-woman or anti-queer? Or both? Either way, it’s tremendously offensive.

I grew up in the sticks-and-stones-will break-your-bones-but-words-will-never-hurt-you era. Also in the boys-will-be-boys era. But words do hurt. And words are a representation of how we think. If we think “sissies” then we think “bullies.” Weak = lesser, strong = greater. As Christians we follow the one who said “blessed are the meek.”

In other more contemporary words, blessed are the sissies.

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