I am a tomboy.
I’m not one of those masculine, “tough” tomboys. I don’t enjoy many “masculine” activities (such as watching football), and I didn’t like to play with car toys when I was a kid. But I am what you call a tomboy. I used to think it makes me “different” and “speshul”, but it doesn’t: there’s nothing more special about tomboys than there is to girly girls.
However, analyzing the way people perceive tomboys (and the tomboy label itself) can reveal a lot about culture and society. There isn’t one way to be a tomboy (and to be seen as such): some think sexual orientation and, above all, “masculinity”, or interests (and fashion style) are what make a tomboy.
The first thing that is interesting to note is that being a tomboy is more, or less, a neutral thing. However, it also brings some advantages, and only one disadvantage.
The disadvantage is the fact men (and also, women) will often not perceive tomboy as “truly female”. This can bring difficulties in dating and love/sex life for tomboys. Tomboys are often seen as less attractive than “girly” women, and men tend to be less interested in them. Because being “pretty” and getting a man are often seen as woman’s top priorities, it makes it seem women perceived as tomboys have an important disadvantage.
However, I believe the label brings many advantages. Because tomboys are often seen as not “truly feminine”, it can help them in other areas of life, such as work. Sadly, many people (mostly, but not exclusively, male people) don’t treat women as true equals. Women often find it difficult for people (especially males) to accept their ideas, or to prove themselves in professional setting (especially if the profession requires intelligence, education and authority). It’s not because they can’t do it; it’s because they are not taken seriously. So not being seen as “really feminine” helps people see you as a “regular human” and are more open to listen to your ideas.
Also, many women find tiring to be approached and harassed by random (male) people, or to be objectified. A woman as a human being becomes unimportant and a target of harassment. Just because she is perceived as an attractive female. Tomboys don’t have this problem: they can go on with they day without being harassed or reminded their intelligence, ideas and PhD don’t matter at all and that all they are are a piece of meat. Feminine women often don’t have that luxury.
So all in all, being a tomboy is not bad; it’s not “special” and it sure isn’t different than being a “girly” female. It does make people perceive you and treat you differently.
Here are some common stereotypes about tomboys:
Tomboys are not feminine
It’s the one that make a tomboy, but it isn’t really true. Many tomboys are feminine; they just don’t think you have to dress or act a certain way, or to have some specific interests to be seen as feminine.
Tomboys wants to be men
This can’t be further from the truth. While there are women who’d prefer to be men, “tomboys” in conventional sense of the word are happy to be female. They simply don’t see their interests or way they act (or dress) as something that only boys can do.
Tomboys are ugly and unattractive
Being ugly has nothing to do with it. While it’s true many tomboys don’t like makeup and wear casual clothes, it’s hardly what make someone unattractive. It IS true, however, some men don’t go after tomboys, but there are many who do, and that’s one of the reasons being a tomboy is not such a disadvantage even in dating.
Tomboys like (sports, fights, etc.) and hate (fashion, shopping, makeup)
While it might be true some tomboys enjoy activities that are perceived as masculine, this can hardly be a rule. Many girly women, for example, enjoy sports; and many tomboys like shopping. People are different so what a particular person might or might not like is purely individual.
However, it is true some traits tend to give you a tomboy label pretty quickly (such as, a little girl who doesn’t like to play with dolls), but it has nothing to do with tomboys as persons: it’s the way society assign gender roles.
Tomboys are “tough”
Once again, it’s individual. There are many tomboys who are very emotional, romantic and display other “feminine” traits. Seriously, the fact someone hates fashion and prefers to watch a boxing match instead of “Sex and the City” doesn’t say anything about her as a person.