I like to think that I’m a relatively chilled and laid back person. (Others might say I’m just lazy!) Since I uttered those immortal words Oh my God it’s a girl two years ago I’ve found my blood pressure rising on more than one occasion. None more so than when someone calls Little Miss OMG a tom boy.
There was the Girls Life Magazine cover. Then we had Girls Life getting my boxers in a twist. These were like small mosquito bites mildly irritating, well now I’ve found the mother of all irritants! A simple phrase. She’s a tomboy!
When the phrase “tomboy” made its appearance in the 16th century it was in reference to a boy who was rude and boisterous.
When we hear “tomboy” we instantly think of a girl with short hair and scuffed knees who engages in traditional “boys” games. Climbing trees, sports and outdoorsy activities, as well as risk taking.
You wouldn’t find a tomboy practicing her plaits on a doll or in her Ikea kitchen making dinner for a teddy bears tea party.
It’s an ideology that’s embedded deep in the stereotyped psyche of many from mine and previous generations. Is it time to return the phrase to closer to its 16th century beginnings? Instead using it to describe a child of either sex that is boisterous. Or should it be removed from use entirely?
After all the world of professional sport has embraced women competitors in what would be previously classed male sports. Boxing, football, rugby.
One of Irelands best loved female sports stars is a multi title winning boxer. Katie Taylor now a professional. She is held in just as high a regard among the public as another fighter Connor McGregor. Both of whom have fans from outside the normal fight enthusiasts.
In a world where there is still inequality between the sexes do we really want to be reinforcing the ideal that to succeed women need to behave like men?
Women in many areas of life who display behaviours and traits tradionally seen as male are normally referred to in derogatory terms. A Cougar as opposed to the nicer sounding Sugar Daddy.
Little Miss OMG is happiest when she is outside kicking a ball, playing in the muck or jumping in puddles. Does this make her any less of a girl? NO it doesn’t.
I want my daughter to know that as she grows up she can do or be whatever she wants. Girls out perform boys in Science and Math subjects yet the ratio of women to men employed in these fields is still heavily biased towards men. Why is this? Is it because these are seen as traditionally male roles?
In the early days of toy advertising there was no gender differential. Then someone cottoned on to the idea they could sell more if toys were aimed at a specific gender. Which probably made the “tomboy” stand out more. Girls were supposed to play with tea sets and dolls Boys with sports and building type games. Lego, meccano etc. We are slowly coming full circle with many toy brands marketing their products at boys and girls.
Nerf are an example. They now have a range of guns made for girls. They are pink but it’s a start. Even soccer balls are now available in pink for girls.
I don’t see why we even need to differentiate on colour. Surely a toy is a toy and can be played with by either sex.
In just the same way running, climbing trees and energetic activities are not exclusively for boys.
So please don’t call my daughter a tomboy, or a princess for that matter. She’s just a girl who loves being outdoors with her brothers, exploring the world and having fun. She also enjoys playing with her dolls, watching My Little Pony and messing with make up.
That’s partly why I love going to the park with her. Boys and Girls play together on the swings, slides, zip wire and other equipment with no gender segregation.