June 30, 2019

Is it true that "The term 'tomboy' has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity"?

I'm trying to read "'Tomboy' is anachronistic. But the concept still has something to teach us," by Lynne Stahl (a humanities librarian who teaches popular culture, gender theory, and critical information studies at at West Virginia University)(in WaPo).

I'm interested in the idea of a "tomboy," which I remember from my long-ago youth. There was a girl in our neighborhood who was the tomboy. It was what she was. What did she do? I remember only 2 elements: 1. She ran around with no shirt on in the summertime, and 2. She loved the 3 Stooges — especially Moe.

From the second paragraph of the WaPo article:
The term “tomboy” has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity...
With my memories of childhood, I wondered if that's true. Do conservatives look askance at tomboys? I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years, but, growing up, it seemed that people were pleased to see a tomboy. I heard pride. So I clicked that link on "conservative parenting factions" and got:



Did the link go to just one book (as evidence of "factions")?

Click the image to enlarge it and clarify and you'll be able to see the URL: "https://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Preventing-Homosexuality/dp/0830823794." I wondered if there was a parents guide to preventing homosexuality and, if so, whether it represented real "conservative factions." I tried searching Amazon for parents guide to preventing homosexuality and the top item — and the only even remotely apt item — was this:



That's not the Richard Cohen who was my husband in the 1970s and 80s (and it's not the Richard Cohen who's a Washington Post columnist). This person is presented as a "psychotherapist." The description of the book says: "Did you know that every day people change from 'gay' to straight? This is a must read for every parent, teacher, counselor, clergy, and all who wish to understand what drives homosexual feelings and how to respond in love." I don't know how much that has to do with feeling alarmed about manifestations of tomboyism.

Stahl (the author of the WaPo article) continues, saying that the term "tomboy" has...
... come under scrutiny in progressive circles, too, with some critics arguing that it upholds the essentialist notion that anatomy largely determines children’s behaviors and inclinations. The author of a 2017 New York Times essay who wrote that her daughter was more a tomboy than a transboy sparked debate around gender-nonconforming children, and the argument about this trope has also unfolded across Facebook communities and clinical studies.
Yes, I blogged about that 2017 article ("My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy," by Lisa Selin Davis). I said:
Davis is trying so hard to be politically correct, and everything she writes is so scrupulously polite. But in the process she's shedding light on an important problem: More pliable parents and children are being urged to interpret gender-role fluidity/nonconformity as a condition that needs treatment with medical interventions.
Stahl, in the WaPo column, is bringing up this topic because there's another Hollywood adaptation of "Little Women" in the works, and "Little Women" has a character, Jo, and she's explicitly called a tomboy. From Chapter 1:
"Jo does use such slang words!" observed Amy, with a reproving look at the long figure stretched on the rug.

Jo immediately sat up, put her hands in her pockets, and began to whistle.

"Don't, Jo. It's so boyish!"

"That's why I do it."

"I detest rude, unladylike girls!"

"I hate affected, niminy-piminy chits!"

"Birds in their little nests agree," sang Beth, the peacemaker, with such a funny face that both sharp voices softened to a laugh, and the "pecking" ended for that time.

"Really, girls, you are both to be blamed," said Meg, beginning to lecture in her elder-sisterly fashion. "You are old enough to leave off boyish tricks, and to behave better, Josephine. It didn't matter so much when you were a little girl, but now you are so tall, and turn up your hair, you should remember that you are a young lady."

"I'm not! And if turning up my hair makes me one, I'll wear it in two tails till I'm twenty," cried Jo, pulling off her net, and shaking down a chestnut mane. "I hate to think I've got to grow up, and be Miss March, and wear long gowns, and look as prim as a China Aster! It's bad enough to be a girl, anyway, when I like boy's games and work and manners! I can't get over my disappointment in not being a boy. And it's worse than ever now, for I'm dying to go and fight with Papa. And I can only stay home and knit, like a poky old woman!"

And Jo shook the blue army sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room.

"Poor Jo! It's too bad, but it can't be helped. So you must try to be contented with making your name boyish, and playing brother to us girls," said Beth, stroking the rough head with a hand that all the dish washing and dusting in the world could not make ungentle in its touch.

"As for you, Amy," continued Meg, "you are altogether too particular and prim. Your airs are funny now, but you'll grow up an affected little goose, if you don't take care. I like your nice manners and refined ways of speaking, when you don't try to be elegant. But your absurd words are as bad as Jo's slang."

"If Jo is a tomboy and Amy a goose, what am I, please?" asked Beth, ready to share the lecture.

"You're a dear, and nothing else," answered Meg warmly, and no one contradicted her, for the 'Mouse' was the pet of the family.
These 4 female stereotypes, so crisply reeled out in Chapter 1, are seared into the American mind. I remember reading that, and I thought it was obvious that the one to be was Beth (who's so good it's — spoiler alert — the death of her). But then I thought it was obvious that the best Stooge was Curly, but our local tomboy loved Moe.

Anyway, what are we doing here? Does the WaPo writer, Stahl, have anything new today, anything beyond The Great Tomboy Foofaraw of 2017? She notes — remember, she's a librarian — that "fictional stories about tomboys... also feature plotlines that inevitably pair these characters off with boys, offering uncomplicatedly happy, tidy conclusions in which the tomboy drops her resistance and acquires a boyfriend." (Was tomboyishness "resistance" to love from a man?)
It’s a process that constricts their characteristic independence, and it can feel torturous for those of us who don’t identify with traditional femininity — and who see something of ourselves in fictional figures who reject it. Empathetic viewers might want to see a character embrace her singleness, even if an actual lesbian pairing is too much to hope for.

The attempt to fix the tomboy by marrying her off invites disturbing associations with real-life medical practices that “correct” high levels of hormones associated with masculine characteristics.
Isn't that inviting disturbing associations with real-life medical practices that 'correct' hormones in transgender youths? Speaking of correct, I'm assuming Stahl wants to be politically correct (and she does inject some pro-transgender material near the end, the maximum distance from this disapproval of hormone "correction").

And can't women "who don’t identify with traditional femininity" find happiness with a man? Is there something inherently independent about "an actual lesbian pairing." It seems to me, people who pair up — whether with a man or a woman — may sacrifice their individuality, but they shouldn't, and they don't need to. I'm sure there are plenty of women "who don’t identify with traditional femininity" who pair up with a man, maintain their identity, and have a great time with their man. And the man likes it too. I mean, the lady will go camping.

Stahl observes that writers of popular stories, including Louisa May Alcott, go for the predictable plotline of having the tomboy put on some feminine clothes and realize how much she wants a man. Stahl makes the solid point that readers can and will "ignore contrived endings" and find satisfaction in the meat of the story, where there is expression of tomboy individualism. She concludes:
If we want greater gender autonomy, we have to understand how traditional ideas about gender linger in the stories we tell and the endings we envision for ourselves. Beyond resisting gender norms, tomboys give us a way to see the complex dynamics that shape our expression and perception of identity. And even if the word “tomboy” is reaching its own ending, the tomboy’s refusal to conform keeps its power still.
I still don't see why "tomboy" must die. If you like this character type, why not keep it alive? Beth may have  — spoiler alert — died of her own overflowing dearness, but doesn't the tomboy have the wherewithal to survive?

Stahl purports to value "the complex dynamics that shape our expression and perception of identity," and once we fully understand that — helped, per Stahl, by the tomboy — the tomboy, a stereotype, has no environment that can support her continuing life.

But if we ever got there, all stereotypes would be anachronisms.

IN THE COMMENTS: Fernandistein says, "ngram of tomboy shows the popularity of the word almost linearly increasing since 1860":

131 comments:

Darrell said...

All the tomboys I knew were straight.

Mark said...

Is it true?

No.

Darrell said...

The first lesbians I personally knew in the 1980s were beautiful and dressed and acted like classic women.

chuck said...

Is it true? Do bears shit in the toilet?

Gahrie said...

All the tomboys I knew were straight.

Me too. One of the reasons they were tomboys is because they enjoyed hanging out with guys.

Mike Petrik said...

My experience with tomboys comports with Darrell's.
And Mark is correct. Just more fake news from the usual suspects who fabricate stories about conservatives in order to feed their need to feel culturally and intellectually superior.

rhhardin said...

Tomboys climb trees, is my experience. Nobody climbs trees anymore.

Jim said...

I’m sure that Millie in Picnic (played by a young, 16, Susan Strasberg) grew up to marry a Kansas farmer, have lots of kids and make preserves to send home with her grandkids well into her nineties.

Anonymous said...

I am an old guy and when I grew up being a tomboy was looked on as a positive attribute. That usually meant that the girl could run faster, climb higher and hit harder than a lot of the guys. Usually she was pretty cute too.

Lyle Smith said...

No, don't think so.

bwebster said...

That's just asinine and is (IMHO) typical leftist projection (unspoken line of argument: "Nascent lesbians will dress and act like tomboys, Conservative parents will interpret tomboy-ish behavior as nascent lesbianism, Conservative parents will therefore be deeply troubled by tomboy-ish behavior").

I grew up 60 years ago; tomboys were always the more interesting girls (to me, at least) (see: 'MadMax' in Stranger Things, Season 2). I helped raised six daughters (plus a few semi-adopted ones); one is a police detective who knows Krav Maga and loves shooting guns; another does 'Tough Mudder' runs for fun. Both are straight (AFAIK), have been married, have children they're raising.

tcrosse said...

There used to be a category of LIC, or Lesbian In College, women who did the Lesbian thing for a while, then snapped out of it when they met Mr Right. Does this still exist?

tcrosse said...

In Calamity Jane (1953) Doris Day does the tomboy switch for Howard Keel. Likewise Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun (1950).

Leland said...

Tomboys are not lesbians. Rather, they are young woman who don't see their lives as constrained by others expectations of them. Conservatives, who typically applaud self-reliance, treat tomboys the same way they treat others that care for themselves; they encourage them.

Chuck said...

I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years...

Noted.

Howard said...

I prefer "she has an unfortunate hair cut"

tcrosse said...

The word "virago" has fallen out of fashion.

wwww said...

Nobody climbs trees anymore.

LOL, go to a park or a playground. Yesterday: A girl, about 9 and her friend climbed up a tree to try to retrieve a hula hoop that was caught in the upper branches. Mine were intrigued with the big kids. Girl to toddlers: "Little kids don't do what I'm doing."

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Another micro-demographic group that liberals are trying to corner, claiming conservatives hate them.

I am conservative, and grew up in a conservative town. There were plenty of tomboys. Most of the women I’ve dated in my life — and the woman I married — were self-described tomboys. It was a phase. They are feminine, attractive and confident today.

The hallmark of every lesbian I’ve ever talked with is their messed-up relationship with their father. Bad masculine imprinting.

Henry said...

Next up: Anne of Green Gables ... Crack Whore?

traditionalguy said...

Tom boys were liked because they were like us and played competitive games. Those who became lesbians were very girlie and had girl friends, close girl friends.

traditionalguy said...

Gender theory first has to set up a false historical narrative. They are dedicated enemies of the people.

Henry said...

Seriously, enough with Anne of Green Gables, pushing that whole "red heads are hot tempered" stereotype that the patriarchy has always used to keep the red-headed-step-child down.

JAORE said...

Do conservatives [insert bad thing here]?

Likely not.

But if by implying they do we can demean them, then print away, print away.

Fernandistein said...

(a humanities librarian who teaches popular culture, gender theory, and critical information studies at at West Virginia University)

"Critical information studies"? What kind of BS is those?

FWIW, West Virginia University says otherwise:
English - Language & Literature
History
Philosophy
Religious Studies

ngram of tomboy shows the popularity of the word almost linearly increasing since 1860.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Chuck said...

Noted.

I hate affected, niminy-piminy chits!

wild chicken said...

I was a tomboy but was terrible at games no matter how hard I tried. Decided to be a girl instead. I'm a little better at that.

Some of these trans don't recognize a good thing.

Ken B said...

Know who else was a tomboy? Ellie May Clampett.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

You need to get out of red enclaves and away from pre-diabetic obese kids. I can't keep my grandkids out of the trees at the Harvard Arboretum. They also shoot now and arrows and slingshot. They come home covered in dirt.

chickelit said...

rhhardin said...Tomboys climb trees, is my experience. Nobody climbs trees anymore.

Tomboys had a leg up on the boys climbing trees (but with pants not skirts) and got their licks in. It had nothing to do with lesbianism.

Howard said...

Most tomboys had freckles. I married one. They give strong children. Yes, I believe in personal eugenics

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

The term “tomboy” has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity...

Alarms?
Total BS.

Tomboy meant a girl who didn't always want to wear frilly outfits and/or who liked some of what the boys were doing, like sports. No one was fretting over lesbianism.

n.n said...

This is like the feminists who judged and labeled women who reconciled with their husbands and set a priority for community, home, and children. Or women who stand for human rights and oppose human sacrificial rites.

That said, what evidence is there that "tomboy" is the source or fetal stage of a transversal sexual orientation? Tomboy is a trans-social orientation, where girls share some interests, for some time, that are common to boys. The Spectrum is grasping at straws.

madAsHell said...

Did you know that gender is just a theory??

Howard said...

Tomboys like to play"doctor"

Howard said...

Gender is a theory, sex is biological

Richard Dillman said...

Tomboys, where I grew up, were girls who hung out with guys, played baseball, climbed trees, built forts, and seemed to enjoy the rough and tumble of being young and adventurous. I never thought it was a derogatory term. All the tomboys I knew later married and had children. They regularly participated in our pick up baseball games.

They were fun.

Fernandistein said...

Whappo commenter Carstonio says: "The author doesn’t go far enough.
...
Hostility to tomboys isn’t just about their defiance of a gender stereotype but also about their undermining of the hierarchy."


I guess the hostility was documented in the imaginary book, dunno about the undermining.

Linked Whappo article: [My 7-year-old daughter Henry is transgender. She’d change Trump’s mind.]

n.n said...

Know who else was a tomboy? Ellie May Clampett.

Girls who like frogs and tadpoles... science, football, even automobiles. Then boys and girls grow up, reconcile, and accept the "burdens" of adulthood.

madAsHell said...

There used to be a category of LIC, or Lesbian In College, women who did the Lesbian thing for a while, then snapped out of it when they met Mr Right. Does this still exist?

I can usually find it with the bargain porn DVDs at Fry's.

Michael K said...

Blogger Howard said...
You need to get out of red enclaves and away from pre-diabetic obese kids.


Howard, this comment belongs in the thread yesterday about "One thing is not like the other."

The pre-diabetic obese kids I see are when I am in a Hispanic area, especially in a Mercado in such a neighborhood (Plenty in Tucson) I remember standing in the check out line behind two parents and their kids each probably approaching 300 pounds.

You need to get out of your lily white Boston bubble and see some of those voters you are going to lose next year,

Mark said...

Gender theory should have been a tip off.

Critical information studies - which I take is some kind of neo-Marxist power ideology -- should have been a tip off.

You can be certain that everything after that is nonsense.

Bob Boyd said...

You're nobody in this country until you've been hated and feared by white Christian males.

buwaya said...

I once dated an avowed lesbian, for about a year.
Short, blonde and Irish.
She was no tomboy. A fine financial analyst though.

She probably wasn't all that committed a lesbian, I could tell. :)
She hated her mother and adored her father, and hung out with men for preference.
And that is something of a key, most actual lesbians do not like the company of men at all.
I suspect the lesbianism was, in her case, a reaction to bad family dynamics.

We stopped dating when I met my wife.

whitney said...

When I was a little girl, the tomboys were the cool girls. All the girls aspired to be them. They weren't lesbians. I'm young enough to have had a gay clique in my high school. The lesbians were not tomboys. They were generally gothy freaks

Fernandistein said...

Me: Every hear of any hostility towards "tomboys"?

The Old Lady: No, I was a tomboy, I liked to climb trees and play cowboys and Indians. And fight with my brother.

Yancey Ward said...

I will take "Things that aren't true" for 1000, Alex.

Big Mike said...

Do conservatives look askance at tomboys?

No. Why should we? Because some brain-dead librarian who teaches “gender theory” has theorized on cherry-picked evidence (or no evidence at all) that we should?

I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years

And a bunch of us are trying to change that. Before you started blogging would you have questioned the credentialed Me. Stahl and an article in the Post?

Yancey Ward said...

When I was growing up, I knew four tomboys- Jackie, Neitha, Tammy, and Jennifer (we played sports together- baseball and basketball). None of them turned out to be lesbians. I met another when I was a post-doc, Debby, who also was not a lesbian. I met at least three other women while working that I am pretty sure would have been described as tomboys growing up, none are lesbians. I really don't get the whole tomboy=lesbian thing, and I suspect no one else does either except for demented progressives.

Big Mike said...

Ms. Stahl. Sorry about poor proofreading.

Bob Boyd said...

So her theory is, for years parents have been conspiring to ostracize certain children because, "She'll turn my little girl into a lesbian if we don't do something"?

That's one of the stupidest fucking things I have ever heard. And that's not a low bar these days.

chickelit said...

I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years,...

Ah, so it was you who kept Prince Albert in a can. Thanks for letting him out!

AustinRoth said...

That whole article was a typical Left BS strawman, projecting what they WANT conservatives to be thinking so they can feel superior.

My daughter was a tomboy. Liked to roughhouse, ride horses, then motorcycles, then skydiving, etc.

Never was and is not a lesbian. She was a very cute girl, now a beautiful woman, that could dress up when she wanted, but preferred not to.

Happily married now, working on having her first child.

To me, that whole article

J. Farmer said...

"The term 'tomboy' has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity"

Oh, puhlease.

Bill Peschel said...

"I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years,"

Don't they make up most of your readership here? Or do you have a more restricted definition of conservatives.

Fen said...

"Poor Mr Darcy. They caught Elizabeth out climbing trees, so they forced her to have a mastectomy and grow a beard. And now Mr. Darcy is all alone." - Pride and Prejudice Rebooted.

I suspect Ms Stahl is a lesbian who is wish casting. And I think the idea that a girl could have a childhood similar to the boys in her neighborhood, but then grow out of it, is threatening to the "born this way crowd". So they need to co-opt it, and one way to do that is to polarize the word "tomboy" into something it's not.

Narr said...

Another mediocre academic venture to enmurk that which has always been clear. Publish any old crap, or perish. Lots of it about.

I can't remember any tomboys; that is to say, I knew some girls who were described that way but none of them were close to my group of guys. Many of my friends had sisters, but I can't recall any of them as clearly a tomboy. Girls were girls, mysterious and unapproachable for the most part, to me.

As to the supposed "tomboy panic" attributed to conservative parents, WTF?

Narr
(Lesbian Until Graduation was the phrase back in the 90s)

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

The adolescent tomboys of my youth were aggressively hetero. Almost alarmingly so. Play hard, play hard.

Stahl is laughably out of touch. Clearly she’s never sat through a select softball tournament.

Eleanor said...

I was a tomboy. I had 3 older brothers who taught me how to play ball, climb trees, and fix a car. I went off to engineering school and met a guy who liked having a girlfriend who could change the oil in his car for him. We got married, and my friends gave me power tools for wedding presents. I'm "girly" enough. I'm comfortable when the occasion calls for wearing a dress, and I can walk in heels. When I decided to give back a bit, and I spent a few years teaching, I was the favorite teacher of the delinquent boys. Not afraid of snakes, and I can make things work. My fellow female engineering school classmates and I joke about if we were teens today, we'd all be on hormone blockers, and we're all grandmothers.

Lucien said...

“Foofaraw?” I thought it was a kerfuffle. This calls for some argle-bargle.


readering said...

Only relative I have who was a tomboy happens to be only relative I have who is gay (that I know).

Earnest Prole said...

I was around plenty of very conservative parents growing up and I never once heard the slightest hint of tomboy disparagement or anxiety. The attitude was always “That’s how she is.”

Howard said...

Harvard Arboretum borders Jamaica Plain, doc. Hardly Lily white. You are correct, the childhood obesity in the more recent Hispanic immigrant communities. Very different from the Mexican kids I grew up with.

Fen said...

This explains the confusion:

the term "tomboy" has come under scrutiny in progressive circles, too, with some critics arguing that it upholds the essentialist notion that anatomy largely determines children’s behaviors and inclinations. The author of a 2017 New York Times essay who wrote that her daughter was more a tomboy than a transboy sparked debate around gender-nonconforming children, and the argument about this trope has also unfolded across Facebook communities and clinical studies.

The author need to make up fake consternation from conservatives so that she could treat the term "tomboy" as problematic since "both sides" are having trouble with it. It also make her audience more likely to take "her side" since it is identified as "opposite the side of those nasty people that we hate", ie:

Hey guys the word "tomboy" has become problematic to BOTH sides. Hitler is afraid Tomboys will turn into Lesbians, but I worry that Tomboys undermine our nature Vs nurture argument supporting Lesbianism. Pick a side...

That is why she created the Strawman of conservatives pearl-clutching over the word.

Paul From Minneapolis said...

I've always thought tomboys are hot. So now I'm totally gender-confused.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

I am so glad I grew up in the 60's and not in the current age. I "wanted to be a boy." I played with Hot Wheels, went hunting and fishing with my dad, and hated wearing dresses.

But I am not a trans man. I like being a woman and I like being married to a man.

If I was growing up now they would probably put me on testosterone therapy. There is nothing wrong with girls taking an interest in traditionally "masculine" activities. Sometimes it's just because they want to compete with everyone in the world and not just other females. The whole transgender argument is ridiculous, who is it that is enforcing traditional gender norms?

wwww said...

1) NYTimes is not a good place to go to get a read on the parenting experience. 2) I'm not sure why articles in the NYTimes are of interest. It's not representative of the parenting experience. 3) I think the phrase "tomboy" is outdated and a remnant from the 50s. I don't hear people using it. It's not unusual for a girl to climb a tree or play sports or get muddy. Nowadays no one needs to explain her as a "tomboy" because she's seen as an average girl. Most often she'll be climbing trees or making forts or playing sports with a huge yellow bow in her hair like Emma from the Wiggles.

hombre said...

“The term “tomboy” has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity....”

What codswollop! I grew up among conservatives and never heard anything to warrant this notion. It is pure leftmedia fabulism. Every “tomboy” I knew grew up straight. Does WaPo just cast a net out for wacky women with partisan delusions?

And, “conservative parenting factions.” WTF?

wwww said...

"I am so glad I grew up in the 60's and not in the current age."

NYTimes is not representative of actual parenting in 2019. Sometimes, on this blog, I get the impression that a bunch of people with grown up kids (or no kids) make all sorts of assumptions of what parents are doing "today" w/ no real world experience or contact with parents and young kids.

jaydub said...

Eleanor, you sound exactly like my wife, except instead of engineering she was a math major who did computer modeling and programing for NOAA in the early seventies when she was the only female in her department. The snake comment is particularly apt because my wife was bitten by a rat snake in garden shop at a Home Depot as she was trying to save it from an employee who was going to kill it with a shovel. She eventually was able to grab it close enough behind the head so that it couldn't turn it's head and bite her a second time, then took it outside and released it in the parking lot. Then she finished her shopping as the man with the shovel looked on with his mouth open. She was a legend at that Home Depot until we moved away, and she's still a legend to the grandsons. Her mother once told me she had to admonish her when she was young to not be so rough with the boys in the neighborhood after one of them wound up with a broken arm. She can also fix anything, and she can dress up with the best of them, too. The only thing I know she's afraid of is spiders. Our daughters (though niminy-piminy chits who somehow missed the tomboy gene), our grandchildren and I are very thankful she grew up in a saner time when there were only two genders and no one tried to change hers.

Leo said...

Learned a word today, virago, never heard it before. Which is odd, as I'm old and pretty well read.

In that respect it reminds me of when my dad decided to read William F Buckley's Blackford Oakes novels, he kept a notepad for the list of words he needed to look up.

Bob Boyd said...

The term 'tomboy' has long sounded alarms among progressive parenting factions for its perceived association with girls going hunting and shooting guns and departure from traditional feminism.

Fen said...

I was a tomboy. I had 3 older brothers who taught me how to play ball, climb trees, and fix a car. I went off to engineering school and met a guy who liked having a girlfriend who could change the oil in his car for him.

I still remember Cindy, our neighborhood tomboy. We had about 12 kids on my block, which was right across from the elementary school soccer field. Summers were a child's paradise - we always had ALMOST enough to field two teams for baseball, soccer, hunt on bicycles, water balloon wars, spotlight tag, etc.

So we recruited the girls whenever we could, because just one would be enough to field equal teams of 6, and there was always one set of brothers out of town or home sick.

Cindy was a beauty, everyone had a crush on her. And she could tackle hard, knock the wind out of you (and don't you dare let a girl make you cry! LOL). Of course, whenever we could recruit her to come out and play, the game was changed to football, and all the boys tried to find a way to get picked for the team that would be tackling Cindy. LOL.

Her younger brother was the youngest of our "crew", so I think she did it to make sure he got treated right. One day he ran home in tears because he couldn't complete the trial to become a member of our Secret Super Treehouse Fort Club - it consisted of something like climbing a very scary tall tree, squeezing between a slat in the wooden fence, jumping from the treehouse onto the diving board and then a cannonball splash big enough to get the teenage girls sunbathing next door all wet. Cindy came back like a storm, accusing us of making a trial too hard just to keep her lil brother out of the club. She insisted we show her the trials, and she proceeded to do each of them, become our first girl member, and then yelled at her brother to stop being such a sissy. LOL I miss her.

rcocean said...

All the tomboys I knew Liked to play sports and join in the games. That was no problem except when it came to football, since they cried if you tackled them too hard.

The Lesbians in our school stayed in the closet, or maybe I wasn't paying attention. Anyway the ones 'that came out' later were mostly like everyone else.

The only Lesbian that i picked up on in HS, got accepted to West Point, she always wore her hair short and had a brusque, pushy attitude. I thought about all the poor guys who joined the army to be John Wayne and ended up with her as their commanding officer.

Steven Wilson said...

How said that this tripe has originated from my alma mater. WVU May have had shortcomings but at least the student body and faculty were sensible. My last two partners, one who was a classy dresser and quuite girly and my current one who is an outdoors type were self described tomboys and just as heterosexual as possible. We truly need to isolate these “studies” academics in their own institutions where they aren’t sopported by real students and faculty and see how long it would take them to sink. Can anyone say Antioch or Evergreen.

Crazy Jane said...
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Darleen said...

Oh for heaven's sake ... *I* as a tomboy - there were only 3 girls on my block, my younger sister one of them, so I played with boys. I climbed trees, rode a bike, played baseball, hide-n-seek, Red Rover, and countless other physical games we just made up. Summer was out the door after breakfast and staying out and about until called in for dinner (lunch was coming back home to take a sandwich & drink outside to sit under a tree with my friends and eat).

I don't know of ANY parents of that era who freaked out about their girls being tomboys. It was just accepted part of little girls growing up.

Girls I know that actually came out as lesbians - most didn't go through a tomboy stage. Some were hyper-feminine.

Narayanan said...

Blogger rhhardin said...
Tomboys climb trees, is my experience.

Conclusion: Tomboys are the girls boys want in their treehouse.

Bruce Hayden said...

My ex was somewhat of a tomboy growing up. The rule was that I could give her power tools for presents, but not kitchen tools, because the power tools were for play and the kitchen stuff was for work. My partner, on the other hand was not allowed, by her mother, to be a tomboy, despite she, the mother, having grown up horseback riding, hiking, and esp shooting. They used to call her Annie Oakley. Would throw her five kids in a station wagon and camp across the Southwest, to get them out of the Las Vegas summer heat, with some of her arsenal along for protection. But wouldn’t allow her daughters the same freedom. My partner loved spending time with her father, which meant woodworking, metal working, and esp welding. And then her former cowgirl mother would find her out there in the garage, and drag her back to more ladylike pursuits. Both of these two women in my life wanted to be boys growing up. They both got along better with boys, than nasty, gossiping, girls, and didn’t want to be constrained into women’s roles. The boys got to do the fun stuff growing up, why couldn’t they?

That all said, I do know lesbians who were Tomboys growing up. One I know grew up on a ranch, loved sports, and hung out almost exclusively with guys until college. Never had any interest in dating them though. Went away to junior college, then a big state university and within a couple weeks there, a light went off. That was almost half a century ago, and never a question about her sexual identity.

But the thing that I think scares a lot of parents is that for every natural homosexual female, there is probably at least one more, maybe more, who is lesbian by choice. Maybe bisexual, or maybe even heterosexual. As a guy, I can usually tell the difference. For straight guys, there is a little sexual tension with every straight female they run into, from a couple years old, into their nineties. And it isn’t there with actual homosexual lesbians. A couple decades ago, when I was confronted at a club by a woman for hitting on her date, it was because she knew, deep down, that her date was just as physically attracted, if not more so, to guys. There are a lot of lesbians out there who used to be married to guys. Those are the real man haters. But almost inevitably there is the sexual tension there that says to me that they aren’t completely homosexual by nature. But also met some lesbians who had never dated guys, but there was still a bit of sexual tension. And that is probably what these parents fear, that their bi or hetro daughters might go lesbo, if allowed to be tomboys growing up.

Crazy Jane said...

The term "tomboy" was applied to prepubescent girls who were not asserting lesbian sexual interests but rather their frustration with girly-girl stuff. Parents, conservative and liberal, didn't used to be obsessed with whether their tomboy girls were lesbians because prepubescent girls are not sex-obsessed.

The people who are sex-obsessed about prepubescent children are perverts. A child who has been acting out sexually before puberty is almost certainly a child who has been abused. A culture that can't tell the difference is a damaged culture.
The job of parenthood is to observe a child's personality and interests and to help the child work with those to grow into a happy adult.

Post-puberty, some young women identify as lesbians and some go back and forth. Young gay men seem less likely to change. But, again, the young adult will tell you who s/he is.

Until then, adults need to leave those kids alone.

Narayanan said...

@Professora AA:
Kindly Kindle up Atlas Shrugged.

Dagny is presented "tomboyish" as child, goes on for STEM education because she wants to run great Grandpa's Railroad.

Also see passage describing Dagny's Debutante ball and her talk with her mother after: heartbreaking!

Fair warning: Ayn Rand was not feminist.

Dagny >> New Day in Nordish

buwaya said...

wwww,

The NYT is the organ of the US leadership caste, a subculture of its own.
You may dismiss it as unrepresentative of general US conditions on the ground, and it is, in so many ways, but it is the world view of the people who make most decisions as well as their fellow travellers. And besides that it is the central clearinghouse of messages these people want to send, the core organ of the propaganda machine.

As a personal observation, I find you a curious entity, in parts naive, parochial, and, I fear, disingenuous.

Tomcc said...

Yikes! Another article expounding on the critical issues of the day. Ms. Stahl's analysis strikes me as too reliant on what she's read as opposed to what she's actually experienced.
As a teen, I had a good friend who could be described as a tomboy; she liked sports, mini-bikes, outdoor activities of all kinds. She was smart, not especially attractive, but fun to be around. She finished college, then law school, then marriage (x2) and kids. Our parents were conservative. Never heard a word of concern.

Night Owl said...

Since progressives like to make up bullshit theories about conservatives I'm going to make up one about them. Here goes:

When a progressive gets a feeling that makes them uncomfortable, such as they worry that their tomboy might grow up to become a lesbian, in order to reduce their guilt for having such an "unacceptable " emotion they blame it on conservatives. They tell themselves, "it's those nasty conservatives that have such beliefs, not me!"

 The difference between conservatives and progressives is that conservatives are honest about their beliefs and feelings, while progressives lie to themselves, and end up hating themselves because of it. They turn that hatred outwards and direct it towards anyone who does not seem sufficiently contrite about their "backwards" beliefs. In short, progressives are self-loathing, hateful people.

Ok thats my theory. And while admittedly it's just bulllshit, it's far more likely to be closer to the truth than the idea that conservative America  was ever "alarmed" by tomboys.

Darrell said...

Megan Rapinoe can jump and hump me.
I think she has a smokin' body--although I'd like her to be taller. Perhaps she can work on that.

buwaya said...

The whole business is just a symptom of the collapse of the cultural systems that emerged, spontaneously, over millennia, to maintain a human mode of existence in an environment created by human technology, for which humanity has not evolved. The human animal is not made for the world humans created. Not for agriculture, or for industrialization, or whatever it is we have now.

And so we see the endpoint, the breakdown of humanity, where in a condition of unprecedented material prosperity the human population is failing to breed. All the homosexuality and sexual manias and deculturalization we note are epiphenomena of a fundamental failure to maintain existence.

Howard said...

They is no collapse buwaya puti. You need a better signal to noise detector.

Amadeus 48 said...

I have a load of “Shinola” I’d like to sell to Lynne Stahl. I doubt she can tell the difference.

wwww said...

buwaya,

Somebody on this blog said that kids don't climb trees anymore. In the last 2 weekends I've seen different kids climb up 2 different trees at 2 different parks.

It's the difference between the practical and the theoretical. I'm up to my elbows in poo and around a lotta kids and a lotta parents. People are saying, "i'm so glad I grew up in the 60s because life is just like the NYTimes story." You don't need to worry life isn't actually like a NYTimes story in real life parenting little kid land.

I'd like to remind people that NYTimes is going for the clicks, not the average experience of parenting today. Now I've gotta go take the kids to playdate.

wwww said...

& one of the girls climbing a tree was wearing a skirt & yoga pants. I'm not kidding about the Emma bow from the Wiggles, either. Little girls are into that fashion.

Anyways the younger parents are doing fine & we don't get our parenting advice from the NYTimes.

Darrell said...

Darrell,
But you are a gay man attracted to that boi-ish body, right?


Absolutely not. I always thought small breasts rock. And I always thought that thin bodies are more sleek and aerodynamic. Team Olive Oyl for me, like Popeye.

Amadeus 48 said...
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Char Char Binks said...

Most tomboys I knew were just fun girls who liked to climb trees, catch frogs, and play kick the can. Lesbians were a different matter. They were just sexual deviants, mentally ill, man-hating hysterics, and Darwinian dead ends. There's some overlap along that spectrum, but I have a feeling most lesbians belong to the "fat slob crying in her cookie dough" category than the sporty tomboy circle.

Char Char Binks said...

I have a relative who is trans. As a girl, she (at the time) was not at all tomboyish. She was mostly just quiet, torpid, and solitary, fun at times, but mostly listless. Not that she was a bad person.

Now he (I guess) is just a short, flabby neckbeard with tiny hands and a tough row to hoe.

buwaya said...

The most advanced societies on earth are failing to reproduce, with no end in sight, and the fertility collapse is baked-in at this point due to the demographic structure.
This is just mathematics at this point.

Moreover the fertility collapse is global, other parts of the world are just somewhat behind the Euro-US-Japan curve, but on the same trajectory.

Your local environment is lacking petspective. Of course playgrounds have kids. Of course mommy-groups have mommies. But you have to consider the people you dont know, that you dont see. You have to consider what is not happening, not just what is.

Else you are not in a position to spectate on the world-game.

buwaya said...

Part of the problem is memetic - that is a very useful concept.
Messages are very powerful, if pushed by powerful means to an influential audience, reinforced with repetition. So, to the NYT and your universities, etc. Having been born and raised as a traditional Catholic I understand how this works.

Your elite caste has its own "church", with articles of faith, rituals, their own concept of ethics (incompatible with the traditional sort), and an inquisition.

They seem to want, with great intensity, to suppress fertility. Especially among the people they control. Why this is so we can only guess. I suspect that they themselves are the leading edge of the victims of the social collapse they seem to be desperate to accelerate. You may be in a condition of rule by the sickest.

Rabel said...

If you search ngram for "tomboy,lesbian" together it makes a hockey stick.

Howard said...

When you consider what is not in evidence, you have the makings of paranoid delusions

Fernandistein said...

Secret Super Treehouse Fort Club

Ours was pitiful, some pieces of plywood about three feet off the ground in a mesquite tree.

To make up for it, these desert gourds, each armed with a Black Cat firecracker, made pretty sweet "hangergourds" - spray the enemy with gourd guts.

Fernandistein said...

"Hand-ger-gourds"

buwaya said...

Evidence of absence is not absence of evidence Howard.
You know that of course. You are just being Howard.

Marc said...

"I haven't consorted with many conservatives in the last 50 years."

My guess is that you took the wrong end of the stick there, Bill Peschel, at 1037: I expect Althouse is using a different definition of 'to consort with' than you had in mind.

Bilwick said...

If tomboys, like the one our hostess remembers, made it a practice to walk around without shirts, I for one would encourage tomboyism. That's the kind of open-minded, accepting guy I am.

That reminds me, about fifteen years ago a grown-up, tomboyish (but attractive and sexy) woman whose sexuality was the subject of some speculation in my social circle at the time persuaded me to accompany her to the first Gay Pride parade in this city. I went because at that time I wanted to shtup her. At the event there were a lot of topless lesbians. My friend, always proud of her breasts, wondered if she, too, could get away with stripping to the navel. She asked a couple of cops who were keeping an eye out on the parade why they were letting women go topless. The cops said they'd been instructed not to interfere with anything unless it got violent. This sorely tempted my friend to "let the girls out," but sadly she never acted on that impulse. Anyway, later I remarked that as much of a voyeur as I am, none of those exposed lesbian breasts had any effect on me. (Part of that may have been due to the fact that the exposed breasts weren't that aesthetically pleasing.) My friend said, "Those were thoroughly desexualized breasts." She then indicated her own rack and said, "Not these! These are totally sexualized tits!"

Anyway, I agree with Darrell. Rapinoe doesn't have what I would consider the ideal feminine body--but she is in her own way hot.

chickelit said...
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chickelit said...

Howard (actually) wrote: When you consider what is not in evidence, you have the makings of paranoid delusions

Bassackwards: Paranoid delusion is perceiving that which is not there.

I'm starting to doubt whether Howard ever actually trained in science.

Henry said...

What would we do with trees?

Roy Jacobsen said...

The term “tomboy” has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity...

I'll take Things That Never Happened for $500, Alex.

Unknown said...

I was a tomboy. I liked tire swings, roughhousing with boys, shooting my .22, baseball and I aspired to be the place kicker for the Sooner football team. Boys dug me. Boys never talked down to me. Happily hetero with four girls and a hubby who still digs me after 45 years.

Mary Beth (the commenter) said...

isn't it embarrassing for the WaPo to have a bad Amazon link?

Fen said...

And on that note, in 15 I'm taking the wife through a raid named "Vault of the Night". The tomboy in her is really enjoying the thrill of zoting everything that moves with a Lightning Bolt. It's a little disturbing :P

You guys have fun storming the castle!

traditionalguy said...

As I recall there are some seriously bi-sexual women out there. They do like intelligent, hot men, but they fall in love with women. It's having it all.

And you cannot blame them since we fall in love with women too. But still it hurts your feelings if you have feelings, like a betrayal does.

StephenFearby said...

Wikipedia, Bacha posh:

Bacha posh, which in Dari literally translates to "dressed up as a boy" is a cultural practice in the Middle East of Asia more specifically Afghanistan where patriarchal rules as supreme. Households that are without a male heir or figure to accompany the women are highly stigmatized and marginalized within the society. To avoid such stigmatization families without a son or male figure will commonly choose to present a daughter as male dressing them in the masculine (male) attire. The child known as a bacha posh is no longer considered to be a daughter and is given more independence within society.'


'...Origins
The custom is documented at least one century ago, but is likely to be much older, and is still practiced today.[1] It may have started with women disguising themselves as men to fight, or to be protected, during periods of wartime.[2]

Historian Nancy Dupree told a reporter from The New York Times that she recalled a photograph dating back to the early 1900s during the reign of Habibullah Khan in which women dressed as men guarded the king's harem because officially, the harem could be guarded by neither women nor men. "Segregation calls for creativity," she said, "These people have the most amazing coping capability."[3]...'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacha_posh

Leora said...

As I recall Jo made her own life, became a writer, and fell in love and married an eccentric German Professor at a somewhat advanced age. Not the stereotypical ending. I seem to recall Jo and her husband started a school for boys.

I've been thankful a few times for growing up so long ago that preferring hanging with the boys to hanging with the girls was not ground for medical intervention. I'm quite sure gender dysphoria is real but I think it's a lot less common than the desire of adolescents to get attention and special treatment.

Michael K said...

You don't need to worry life isn't actually like a NYTimes story in real life parenting little kid land.

People who read the NY Times don't get west of the Hudson River. They don't have trees.

Remember "A tree grows in Brooklyn?"

mockturtle said...

2. She loved the 3 Stooges — especially Moe.

Oooh, me too! Nobody ever called me a tomboy but where I grew up girls played the same rough games and hunted snakes and had adventures just as boys did. But we also played with paper dolls and loved playing dress-up. In other words, a perfectly normal childhood.

mockturtle said...

The first lesbians I personally knew in the 1980s were beautiful and dressed and acted like classic women.

Same here, Darrell. I guess it makes sense: If a woman is attracted to women, why would she be attracted to a mannish-looking one?

Browndog said...

Lesbianism wasn't a thing when 'tomboy' was.

Good grief.

tim in vermont said...

Scout was a tomboy in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was clearly a lesbian in Go Set a Watchman.

tim in vermont said...

There was a girl we thought of as a tomboy in my elementary school. I had a third degree crush on her. Once in a while she turns up on facebook and my heart still skips a beat.

Michael K said...

If a woman is attracted to women, why would she be attracted to a mannish-looking one?

But half of them are. The butches are half the lesbians. The other half are the femmes and some may be bisexual.

I startled Dennis Prager on his radio show one time by pointing out that lots of lesbians had boob jobs. He didn't know that.

rcocean said...

"Megan Rapinoe can jump and hump me.
I think she has a smokin' body--although I'd like her to be taller. Perhaps she can work on that."


LOL! I gag a little, every-time i see her. She looks like a skinny 14 y/o boy. You'd make a fortune if you could bottle her and sell it as anti-rapist spray.

rcocean said...

Some Lesbians are "lipstick Lesbians" but a lot of them look like Rosie. Or Terry Gross.

rcocean said...

BTW, whatever happened to Ann Hecht (sp) the actress? did she goes Transgender or is she still Lesbian?

rcocean said...

The rumor is Katherine Hepburn was Gay and the whole thing with Tracy was just a dodge to hide that. Although Tracy thought she was straight. Of course, others speculated that he was actually Gay. So they were just playing Parcheesi at night.

mockturtle said...

The rumor is Katherine Hepburn was Gay and the whole thing with Tracy was just a dodge to hide that. Although Tracy thought she was straight. Of course, others speculated that he was actually Gay. So they were just playing Parcheesi at night.

She may have been 'bisexual' but there is no evidence of any affairs with women. And she was, by all accounts by those who knew her, deeply in love with Spencer Tracy.

I always thought Dorothy Parker's remark summed up Hepburn's acting very well. ;-)

tim in vermont said...

The other half are the femmes and some may be bisexual.

Yeah... some.

Kirk Parker said...

Howard,

No collapse? I guess you never heard of demographics, or what the demographers are currently saying. (Or Weimar, either, for that matter.)

Jason said...

The term “tomboy” has long sounded alarms among conservative parenting factions for its perceived association with lesbianism and departure from traditional femininity.

No, it does not. And it never did.

Jesus, libtards are getting more retarded by the minute.

Jason said...

The only thing about tomboyism that worries conservative parents is that in some girls it could progress to soccer.

Greg P said...

She notes — remember, she's a librarian — that "fictional stories about tomboys... also feature plotlines that inevitably pair these characters off with boys, offering uncomplicatedly happy, tidy conclusions in which the tomboy drops her resistance and acquires a boyfriend."

So I guess heterosexual males find tomboys attractive, no?

I do wonder what it's like, having your politics force you to be an idiot