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Light-hearted question - in this day and age, can there be such a thing as a tomboy?

(12 Posts)
fedupandfifty Wed 06-Jul-11 19:24:15

I was called a tomboy when growing up, and the other day an acquaintance referred to my DD as one. I tried to explain to DD what my friend meant, but haven't heard the word used for ages. Is it still in use, and what's the feminist perspective on the idea that girls should behave in one way, and boys in another?

Thistledew Wed 06-Jul-11 19:29:33

I don't know whether it is used now, but when I was primary school aged it was a badge of honour amongst my friends to be in the 'tomboy club'. We definitely did not see ourselves as boys, just girls who were in to athletic/rough and tumble games and who weren't too bothered about our appearances.

tougholdbird Wed 06-Jul-11 19:40:21

my DD and her group of 6 yr old friends call themselves the tomboys, they dislike anything pink and like to play pirates at break time. Sounds Ok to me.

HerBeX Wed 06-Jul-11 20:32:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

skrumle Thu 07-Jul-11 08:52:56

my DD called herself one for the first couple of years of primary (having spent ages 3-5 insisting she wanted to be a boy). she isn't anymore having fully embraced pink, make-up and posters of boy bands shock

funnily enough i was listening to local radio and there was a girl of 8 or 9 on and she was asked what she was doing today (already the holidays here) and her reply was "playing ships with the boys", the presenter then asked her if she was a tomboy and she said "no" in tones of what-a-ridiculous-question which i thought was a positive thing - i.e. you can just be a girl or even a girly-girl and still play ships with boys...

TrillianAstra Thu 07-Jul-11 09:09:24

As long as there are gender stereotypes there can be tomboys.

Children should be able to play in any way that they like, and using the word is IMO unhelpful because it reinforces the stereotypical gender division.

hazeybabes Thu 07-Jul-11 11:02:14

In some ways the label can help girls who don't want to buy into the girly girly stuff and who want to play with the boys. It helps them to know that they aren't wierd and that there are other girls like them. However, like any label, it can also become a bit of an albatross. It would be far better for girls who are "tomboys" to have positive role models in the mass media to compare themselves to and to be inspired by.

TheSmallClanger Thu 07-Jul-11 11:30:06

I remember "tomboy" being a mostly positive term when I was growing up. I know that is buying into the whole valuing-typically-male-pursuits-over-female thing, but to us, a tomboy was not afraid to have fun.

DottyDot Thu 07-Jul-11 11:31:36

yes definitely still in use - one of ds2's best friend is a self-declared tomboy - she's fab and because she's a tomboy is one of the only girls the boys that age (7 - 8) will play with. completely ridiculous but there you go. (I personally hope they get married grin)

TrillianAstra Thu 07-Jul-11 11:45:37

Ideally we shouldn't need a label for "girls who like to do boy things" because there shouldn't be girl things and boy things.

fedupandfifty Thu 07-Jul-11 13:22:24

trillian - that's exactly what was on my mind. I'm constantly surprised, though, and a bit shocked even, at the gender differences still perpetuated by stores such as Mothercare. I thought we'd moved on fron that!

blackcurrants Thu 07-Jul-11 14:33:58

I think trillian is bang on the money, but ... I can also see how 'tomboy' can be a liberation. It certainly was for me. Sad that it's still needed, but if/since it is still needed, I'm glad it's available.


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