Women As Tomboys? Am A Strong Girl, Why Trap Me In Definitions
Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia refers to Tomboy as a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors, considered typical of a boy, including wearing masculine clothing and engaging in games and activities that are physical in nature and are considered to be unfeminine in many cultures. The oxford dictionary refers to tomboy as a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities traditionally associated with boys! and thedictionary.com refers to tomboy as an energetic, sometimes boisterous girl whose behavior and pursuits, especially in games and sports, are considered more typical of boys than of girls. I am going to question that, women as tomboys!
TOMBOY OK, NOT TOMGIRL?
In the first place, the very usage of the word tomboy for a girl is uncalled for, because there is no such concrete word that describes a man who exhibits characteristics or behaviours considered typical of a girl. The question that we all need to ask and the issue on which we all need to ponder is “Who decided these characteristics and who made them so rigid?
I think it is important that we redefine female strength which is not parallel or comparative to a man’s strength
Over the centuries, sexual differences have been interpreted variously. Since men and women possess different genitalia, it has often been assumed that they are different in many other aspects as well. Although men and women are two different branches of Homo sapiens, they share a great deal of similarities. This fact has not been viewed as pertinent and this is where the problem arises. The difference in human body is a manifestation of biology and this does assign certain different characteristics to the male and female body due to hormonal needs.
SEX AND GENDER AREN’T THE SAME
The defining characteristics of a man and a woman is a product of socially and economically constructed religious views, cultural ethos and practices, or in other words, social differences are expressed in and through sexual differences. It’s imperative to understand that the difference between Sex and Gender is that, Sex is biological in nature while Gender is the social role assigned to one’s sex. Sex is a natural phenomenon while gender is not and this is where the catch is. Expecting a woman/man to portray certain traits as approved by the society is a case of coercion and it’s also a case of supremacy when the society isolates or ridicules those who defy it.
It’s absolutely bizarre to confine woman to certain spaces and even more bizarre when the feeling of sacredness is instilled to one’s personality when they confine to these norms. It is each individual’s choice so as to what they want to wear, learn, practice, eat, play and how they want their lives to be, because every human being is entitled to make choices naturally. I study journalism at the Lady Shri Ram College for Women and here is my experience of being called as a tomboy
I’ve been the only girl in the boy gang during my childhood and I’ve never ever taken it when someone called me a tomboy because I have always thought of myself as a strong girl and believed that I possessed a unique strength. I’ve always believed that I was no less than a boy and that I could do everything a boy could do. I enjoyed playing cricket all throughout my childhood, loved wearing trousers and t-shirts, loved climbing trees and did everything that the society would consider as a stringent NO for a girl to do. I’ve had friends who experienced the similar categorization as a tomboy for playing football, cricket and the other “manly sports”.
Considering any sport as Manly is another problem altogether. Sometimes it is also considered that the girls who play sports are unfeminine but our sports stars like Sania Mirza, P.V. Sindhu, Dipika Pallikal, are a testament to the fact that they are Strong Women who made their choices and are unapologetically feminine in their own way.
Then there are celebrities to get the tag too. Menxp called Naomi Watts, Janet Jackson, Emily Blunt tomboys.
Why does nobody take emotional strength as seriously as physical strength
Aswathy, a football player from LSR opines that “Calling me a ‘tomboy’ because I play football makes me feel that men think that they only have the right to be strong. For them strength only means standing against physical obstacles. Nobody takes emotional strength as seriously as physical strength. It’s not easy for men to consider a girl strong and to see her breaking boundaries and tearing apart the goal post and probably that’s why the addition of the word ‘boy’ to my supposed characteristics appeases them. Sportswoman are never taken seriously and many popular depictions like Chak de India are a testament to that. In the beginning, the girls are considered weak and the bar for considering their ability to play in the world cup was dependent on how they performed with the men’s team and such depictions are demeaning as a woman’s strength is different and unique to that of a man and the analysis should be drawn solely on their ability rather than drawing a comparison between men and women.
Sania Mirza, P.V. Sindhu, Dipika Pallikal, are a testament to the fact that they are Strong Women who made their choices and are unapologetically feminine in their own way
Amidst social pressures and expectations, I think it is important that we redefine female strength which is not parallel or comparative to a man’s strength but rather a unique strength showcasing a woman’s power and valour. It’s time we take pride in our strength and receive accolades for being a strong woman rather than being called as a tomboy.