Sassy-ass and Sissy-Free

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – March 31, 2005

You’re being so tough to me
like a leather jacket
I know you’ll have no sissies
No baby you just wouldn’t hack it
gotta be a strong man
to carry the beautiful burden of your love
no sissies get your love
no slackers get your love
no weaklings get your love
no suckers for your love
no actors for your love
no gangsters for your love

– Hawksley Workman, “No Sissies”

If no sissies for a tough woman’s love, then who? Spanning the spectrum of sissies, slackers and weaklings, to suckers, actors and gangsters, sexy and sissy-free Canadian rockeur sensible Hawksley Workman does a great job of identifying all that a smart and sassy-ass woman does not want.

But outside of his descriptions of the rejected, who’s left? I mean, what criteria should intelligent Ottawa girls use to define a real catch and the right match?

Who you’ll find attractive depends entirely on who you are. We’ve all seen the weak chick go for the asshole guy, looking to be validated. The nice guy who pays her attention? She doesn’t want him because he already thinks she’s great – there’s no way to hunt for validation when your worth has already been proven. Where’s the challenge in that? Instead, she puts all her energy into the one who snubs her, striving madly for his thumbs up – as if that will make her complete.

The result: She ends up doing all the work while the dude sits back for the ride. Why the hell should he budge when the ego-stroking comes to him so effortlessly?

A sassy-ass girl with her self-esteem intact will see right away that this guy is a vampire creep and move on. I read somewhere that “a person without energy is naturally ego-centric because he needs to take. He is naturally defensive, because he feels he needs to protect himself. He does not feel safe.” Since when did a couch potato become so popular with the ladies? Or, maybe we’re talking about his close cousin – the mysterious laid-back type who, with his dramatic drags on cigarettes and nonchalance, seems way cooler than the chipper dudes who, tragically, listen to Top 40 radio.

But in defence of the energy-suckers, maybe they’re aloof because they just ain’t into the girl. You might have heard of the book, He’s Just Not That In To You, created by the people behind the television series, Sex and the City. A tonne of women are being freed of their tumultuous relationships by coming to terms with the idea that their man just doesn’t care for them that much. Way better to know this than to stick around, deluding yourself.

“Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen,” I heard someone say, suggesting that if you treat a person like shit, they’ll stick around. Psychologists say this kind of fucked-up scenario generates high chemistry between individuals. The follower is apparently recreating some childhood situation where they were rejected and ignored and they have hopes of repairing it, and for once alleviating the damage and pain experienced long ago.

But in addition to a psychosocial prognosis for why some women flock to blokes who don’t treat them well, is the popular cultural appeal of the tough guy. The tough guy is impenetrable. For some reason, this insularity attracts women who believe they can “get inside.” Eager to please, we’ve seen these women flutter about paying too much attention to how he feels and what he needs. But the sassy-ass girl will long ago have told him to get a grip.

We’ve heard it time and time again: women love assholes. Not all women, but there is undeniably a contingent of women out there who self-identify as such. Maybe they don’t even know they’re going for assholes. They’ll probably tell you that he has an artistic temperament or that years of football have given him a lot of confidence and courage. But what her friends see is a moody narcissist or a thrill-seeking jock who uses women.

Both types exude a toughness that in my experience is misconstrued as strength. The sassy-ass girl sees that a truly strong guy doesn’t need to play mind games or bust heads to be a turn on.

That said, shitdamn, the conventional badass is SO attractive. But this is a girl’s problem, not the guy’s. If a girl desires a life of happiness, joy and laughter, it’s smart to go for the nice guy who gives a shit about those things, too. But why is it SO easy to equate nice with sissy? The nice guy appears too clean-cut, clumsy or nerdy compared to the weathered, worn and wise renegade. The former takes on a girly man character while the latter seems a man’s man.

But like Hawksley Workman, who’s got some girly to his manliness, sassy-ass girls who are tough like leather jackets have a bit of manliness in their girly. These women have got bite and they shouldn’t compromise that beauty by dating a beast. Next to a defiant, contrary and critical man, the nice guy-attentive, open and flexible-works well with this type of girl. He’s a lover not a fighter. He ain’t threatened or jealous. Simply impressed.

What’s so sissy about that?

– Sylvie Hill