Dear Daughter :: You Are Not A “Tomboy”

 

She was just five years old when I met her, already comfortable with and proud of her self-proclaimed “tomboy” status. My youngest daughter {my step daughter} has never really cared for “girly” things. She naturally gravitated toward LEGOS, Hotwheels, and science experiments. She avoids frilly patterns, never cared to play with dolls. Her favorite color is orange

That isn’t to say she has never worn a dress but that she has taken a decidedly strong interest in all things which balk the traditional rules of femininity. You know… those things which society has declared are “for boys”. To this day, she embodies everything we have decided is Not Feminine.

But I want to tell you something, dear daughter :: You are not a Tomboy. You are a girl. And that’s okay. 

Let me make this very clear :: girls rock. Women have strength and determination to get you through just about anything and make the world a better place. And that is exactly why I dislike the word “tomboy”.

Old Words, Old Worlds

Over a century ago, Sigmund Freud wrote a few hundred words on sexuality and women which still pervade our society. How did he define us?

“Not Men”.

“Other”.

That’s it. That’s the best he could come up with. I suppose I could acknowledge that he was both a product of his times and ahead of his time. Yet, here we are, over a hundred years later, and we still haven’t found better words to describe women.

The word “tomboy” originally meant “a rude and boisterous boy” because at that time, children, like women, were to be seen and not heard. Soon, the word came to mean “a girl who acts like a spirited boy”. 

Because, you know, a woman with punch is somehow offensive. 

Defining Ourselves

To call someone a tomboy means you are setting them apart from everything it means to be a girl. It implies that there’s a Checklist For Girldom and anyone who doesn’t check off those boxes is somehow different. Other. 

Rejecting traditional ideas of femininity because you’re growing up in a society with toxic masculinity means that a “tomboy” is set apart- in a good way. It makes you superior to other girls because femininity is both the standard expectation and, at the same time, inferior to boys. 

The word “tomboy” reinforces the very stereotypes which hold women down in the first place :: That women are all {or should be} alike and anyone with any sense would embrace playing with worms rather than playing with dolls. 

It’s about time we do away with that silly word. 

Girls can be whatever they want to be. You can play with your dolls in the mud and that doesn’t make you “part tomboy and part girly”. It makes you alive. A human being. A girl, playing in the mud with her dolls. 

So I’ll say it again, my boisterous, wild-haired, rock-loving, wise-cracking daughter :: You are not a tomboy. You are you- exactly, perfectly you. You are a girl. And that’s a good thing to be. 

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