Sissy is 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.
For some girls and women, sissy is used so persuasively it replaces the given name. The actress Sissy Spacek, whose name is actually Mary Elizabeth, is a well-known person known as Sissy.
Because of its origins in a feminine nickname, sissy is also used as a pejorative for a boy or man to indicate or imply that he is like a sister, that is, effeminate and fails to behave according to the traditional male gender role. This pejorative may be given to anyone as an insult. Several variations, such as "sissy boy" or "sissy baby", exist and any term can become pejorative or insulting if preceded by sissy and applied to a boy or a man.
Sissy is the male equivalent of tomboy, but has none of the latter's positive connotations. The increased tolerance of female diversity has been connected to even greater policing of male behaviour, with even less room than before for the manifestation amongst men and boys of supposedly "female" traits. Even amongst gay men behaviour thought of as sissy or camp produces mixed reactions. It is worth thought as to why it is that people feel so much happier policing male behaviour in this manner than correlatively with female behaviour.
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