I’ve always been called a tomboy, mainly thanks to the fact that I am obsessed with cricket, prefer to wear my hair in a ponytail and choose sneakers over high heels.
I was 13 years old when I started loving the game and although my parents thought this was just a phase, it is now an eight-year-and-counting “phase”.
So at 21, I’m still the cricket loving, seldom high heel wearing and occasionally ponytailed woman. Yet, somehow I can’t seem to shake off this tomboy stereotype.
And it annoys the hell out of me.
I don’t want to be the tree-climbing, scruffy knee kid anymore. This outdated sexist term used to refer to a girls or women who are supposedly not girly or feminine enough is just terrible.
In a society where we are breaking down gender stereotypes, why do we label a woman for liking something ‘manly’? Surely that’s unjust? And what is “manly” even?
Boys experience similar name-calling, as they are often called derogatory names if they play with dolls or don’t take an interest in sport.
I have to admit though, that when I was a kid, I secretly revelled in being called a tomboy. It made me seem brave and tough, despite my tiny (but mighty) frame. It made me feel unique and made me less likely to be picked on. Although people did make fun of me, because I liked things other girls didn’t. Kids right? They are the darndest things...
But now that I am a woman, I feel insecure when someone calls me a tomboy. It feels like I’m denied my femininity, or that I am not pretty enough. Plus, it’s awful when you’re dating and you find yourself too afraid to be yourself, because you don’t want to seem like just one of the guys.
So what if some women are into the things that are often associated with men? Does liking this make them any different? No, it makes them human and makes them have a range of characteristics. Our society has progressed where we now have stay-at-home dads, women have become CEOs of companies and there are professional women’s football, rugby and cricket teams.
Honestly, why can’t women just be called women? Why do you have to name and isolate everything and anything that seems different. Who wants to be an average Joe or Jane? (I’m sorry if your name is Joe or Jane, you are not plain, you are beautiful and don’t you forget that!)
It might seem harmless, but this type of stereotyping can make a grown woman feel like an insecure thirteen year-old.