Women often complain about not being treated as equals. And when I say “equals”, I do mean “fully human”- in all what it means to be, first and foremost, a human being.
In my opinion, it has a lot to do with buying- or refusing- gender roles. So we must look at those who are considered, in a way, to be “borderline cases”: the tomboys.
Tomboys are feminine. Yes, they are. Just because they don’t buy gender roles and double standards when it comes to behavior, attitude, clothes and hobbies of choice doesn’t mean they’re not fully female. Just because they don’t like wearing dresses (and don’t know anything about fashion) doesn’t mean they’re not feminine. And yes, sometimes it’s all what it takes to be considered a “tomboy” or “unfeminine”.
Also, sometimes, it looks like being considered a woman, a feminine woman, means not being human above all else. Yes, it’s the sad truth.
There are all those adorable little girls who hate playing with dolls and prefer their bicycles and tree climbing. There are also girly girls, proud of their pink dresses, dreaming about their mothers’ high heel shoes. (Yes, I know it’s a bad generalization but it’s made for the sake of simplicity). While the first group is rightfully labeled “tomboys”, it’s not an indicator of that’s going to happen to those girls once they grow up.
There’s a moment in every girl’s life, when she’s around 11 years of age, when she decides- subconsciously- whether she wants to play “the game” or not.
Those who decide to play it must stick to their decision for their whole lives. Yes, they will be considered “normal” and yes, they will get (male) attention and be recognized as true women. However, that comes with a price. The game you must play IS the price. Slowly, you begin to fake your manners and pay attention on things you never cared about before, and before you know, the price you’re paying is the fact society sees you as a female first, human second. In other words, your humanity is questioned. The problem is when you start doing this yourself, when you start seeing yourself more as a woman than as a human being. That’s bad.
On the other hand, there are girls who never learn how to play the game. The choice you made here is not conscious- you don’t know what you’re doing. You simply fail to change. Not in a way you don’t want to grow up- you do, and you become more mature, you are not a child anymore. However, you never properly learn the game (your gender role): you simply refuse or, more often, you don’t realize there’s a game to play, because you were comfortable about who you were, or you were asocial enough not to realize the consequences. Note that this could happen to all those sorts of girls: a 6 year old tomboy and girly girl both have a chance to go either way when they’re 11 or 12. You can never tell.
Why am I writing this? Because I am an adult tomboy, a woman who doesn’t know how to play the game? Because I hate Carrie Bradshaw type of behaviour? Well, yes and yes, but that’s not the point. I truly believe all human beings should be seen as human first- any other label, identification or identity comes second. It’s the only good way to go. And ironically, while tomboy (“non-feminine”) women suffer for not being seen as fully feminine, attractive or wanted, “girly girl” women often have to face a worse discrimination- they’re not seen as fully and equally human.