Thursday, May 22, 2014

There Is No Such Thing As a Tomboy

There's a viral post for mothers of all boys going around, and aside from leaving a comment and grumbling a little on Facebook, I was going to leave it alone. Then, I got a reply that filled me with rage-ahol.


First of all, fuck you.

Second of all, if my daughter does something that boys also do, that doesn't make her "like a boy." That makes her like HER.

"Tomboy" assumes that the default for certain behaviors is masculine. That's bullshit, and you need to stop.

Here are the points the original blogger made about what mothers of all boys "must" do.

" must love giving baths, because boys require a lot of them"

If my daughter loves getting dirty, and making a mess in the bathroom during bath time, THAT DOES NOT MAKE HER A TOMBOY.

"You must think farts are funny"

I don't know anyone, boy, girl, man, or woman, who doesn't snicker when someone farts. If my daughter makes fart noises in the store and blames it on me and laughs uncontrollably about it, THAT DOES NOT MAKE HER A TOMBOY.

"It's seriously exhausting to keep a clean toilet when there's a boy (or a few) using it."

The only one who has ever made a mess using the toilet is my second daughter, because she likes to lean back while peeing, and usually sprays over the front of the toilet if she doesn't remember to keep her legs closed. THIS DOES NOT MAKE HER A TOMBOY. My husband taught our son to pee sitting down and he has never once made a mess using the toilet. THIS DOES NOT MAKE HIM UNUSUAL FOR A BOY.

"They jump off of things and slide down things and climb up things and roll and tumble and tackle and leap and pounce and run. ALL THE TIME."

When my son was 12 months old, he climbed onto our television and from there up on top of our bookcase. When my second daughter was only 12 months old, she would climb up her brother's loft bed and then swing from the side of it, scaring us to death. My middle daughter won't stop licking things, and yesterday she licked her brother's butt in the pool and then laughed when I told her it was gross and wrong.

These are kid things. Some kids are weird and energetic and have no sense of self preservation. If a girl behaves this way, SHE IS NOT ACTING LIKE A BOY. SHE IS ACTING LIKE A GIRL BECAUSE ANYTHING A GIRL DOES IS A GIRL THING.

" boys are as dramatic as they come. There is plenty of stomping, eye rolling, sobbing, shouting, door slamming, and general sassiness going on around this piece."

This mom is letting you know that boys are also dramatic, just like girls. So, when boys "act like girls," it's actually a boy thing, but when girls "act like boys," they're still boy things?

"...boys are just not that conscientious about tracking in mud, or grass clippings, or getting toothpaste all over the place, or spilling milk and then maaaaybe half-assed wiping it up with, say, the corner of the tablecloth"

Your kids will actually make a half-assed attempt at cleaning up a mess?

"...they always. Want. To snack."

My three year old daughter eats more than my husband.

"You must be prepared to go through LOTS. And LOTS. Of JEANS."

All 3 kids wear holes into their clothes before they outgrow them. My three year old recently tore a hole in a cotton skirt from the waist to the end because she started to fall out of a tree and the cotton caught on a branch and she just hung there for a while as I raced to get her and then it slowly ripped completely, lower and lower, until she landed somewhat gently into the grass.

"You must be cool with nudity."

We have a little friend who, when she comes over to play, takes off all her clothes, puts on a super hero cape, and that's how they play until it's time for her to leave. No one in this house, including the adults, wears much more than underwear unless we're actually going outside. All 3 kids prefer nudity to bathing suits when we play in the creek. Seriously, why is this a BOY thing?

This is a public park, by the way

 "Your adorable infant son will reach down to grab his as soon as you take his diaper off, and in my nine years of experience mothering boys, it doesn't stop after that."

My 3 year old tries to carry things around between her labia. You don't need a penis to like playing with yourself.

I grew up with three sisters. All girls. My dad was a Mormon Rotarian lawyer and wanted us to grow up to be lady-like. We climbed trees, caught frogs, played with toy guns and star wars action figures, built forts, and beat each other up when our parents weren't looking. At least two of us own and can shoot a gun, one is currently fixing up a trans am with her husband, another drives a truck, and I took karate. WE ARE NOT TOMBOYS. THESE ARE GIRL THINGS, TOO.

My father had preconceived notions about what things were feminine and what things were "not," but we still defy the stereotypes. He didn't fail to raise ladies, he succeeded in raising daughters who are confident in their choices.

When you say we are acting masculine or acting like boys, or tell me, as an old Irish friend once did, that I am "a bit of a lad," what you are saying is that 50% of the planet cannot do these things and still be themselves. When you put a label on a gender, no matter how innocently or well-intended, you diminish the other genders. Yeah, I said genders, because some of my friends prefer to be neither or both.

So, I say again, fuck you, Anonymous. My daughters are all girl no matter how they act. If they declare themselves boys, then that's a choice they get to make. Unless that day comes, take your "tomboy" label and shove it.


  1. This sounds so much like my family. My daughter, as well as my stepsons, loved the days I told them to go out and play and not to come back in the house until they were filthy from tip to toe... and they weren't being 'all boy' or a 'tomboy'; they were being happy, confident kids.

  2. I just complained about this article on a friend's feed. My son fits very few of the stereotypes on this list (he hates getting dirty, isn't particularly rough and tumble, has only worn a hole through his jeans once, etc.), but that doesn't make him any less of a boy. I hate the idea that he might feel he's not "masculine enough" because he's a quieter, gentler kid.

  3. Just stop reading the gender stereotype-promoting idiots! Ssssooooo dumb!

    1. People keep re-sharing them and at some point I get stupid and curious.

  4. Great reply! Out of five kids I have 3 who fit the "boy" stereo type listed, 2 of them are girls!

  5. I wish society would stop shoving the malleable clay that is a child into holes to match limited expectations instead of allowing that child to be the unique human they are.

  6. I hate, hate, hate when my neice and nephew's grandfather tells her "Girl's don't..." or tells him "stop acting like a girl!" Usually he's crying. It drives me up the wall. There is nothing wrong with playing in the dirt or crying. None of these things identify gender.