"You'll hate school for a while, too, but I'm glad you're going to St. Regis's."
"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you so early. You'll find plenty of that in college."
"I want to go to Princeton," said Amory. "I don't know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes."
"I'm one, you know."
"Oh, you're different--I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic--you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors----"
"And Yale is November, crisp and energetic," finished Monsignor.
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
This Side of Paradise
This Side of Paradise
I like that scene because of the last line. But apparently the word "sissies" offends the delicate sensibilities of certain Yale administrators and some leaves in the local sexual letter salad:
It started before the Harvard and Yale teams flailed against each other on the football field last month; Yale's freshman class designed and voted to produce an anti-Harvard T-shirt that actually had some literary merit. According to the Yale Daily News,HuffPo's Lukianoff writes,
The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front -- "I think of all Harvard men as sissies" -- in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said "WE AGREE" in capital letters, with "The Game 2009" scrawled in script underneath it.
But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.
“What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” [Yale College Dean Mary] Miller said in an e-mail to the News.
...yes, I understand that Yale considering banning an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote for using the word "sissies" is not the most important event in collegiate censorship this year (I think my vote goes to the Southwestern College "Free Speech Patio"). But given Yale's recent complicity in the censoring of the Muhammad cartoons in a book specifically about the Muhammad cartoons, it represents just one more mark against Yale's noble promise to allow students "to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable."One concerned HuffPo commenter writes,
The word 'sissy' is a word that heterosexual males use to insult each other by implying that the person they are insulting is gay or effeminate. Let's not pretend it is something else.He is suitably smacked down by Lukianoff, who presents the actual current Webster's definition of the word instead of the curiously unsourced "Webster's" definition offered by the commenter in support of his offense. Furthermore, the proper word these days is "faggot," and has been for quite awhile. Being beyond insult in that regard, my response to that attempted slur usually resembles "And...? What? Are you feeling experimental, darling?" In fact, the word has become so diluted that all the cool netkids are using it to mean just about anything, e.g.: "What is this faggotry?!" I blame Larry Kramer.
I think your time would have been better spent writing an article on heterosexual men and their need to use the lives of gay citizens to insult each other's masculinity without a thought in the world of the human lives they insult and degrade by doing so.
It is of course great fun to mock the poofy-haired slick-suited gentlemen on television who insist upon the inerrancy and unchanging nature of the Word of God as written, apparently, in the original English. Yet within Yale University, the word "sissies" exists as a similarly ideal and eternal utterance, so paradoxically unbounded by time that an already-stale modern connotation can be projected back into 1920, there to shatter all context.
Perhaps the root of the Yalie discomfort is that Fitzgerald was a Princeton man, the equivalent of an illustrious acquaintance at a party who blunders into an established relationship and creates embarrassing tension with an uncomfortably accurate witticism. But that seems too ephemeral, too subtle for an Ivy League that's become somewhat coarsened since Fitzgerald's day.
It's more likely that this is a consequence of the persistent and academically fashionable belief in the mystical and fearsome power of oppressive words. But a bit of literacy and some cultural backbone makes the world a much less frightening place, don't you think?