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Monday, April 18, 2011

Character Stereotypes: The Tomboy

Fiction carries many examples of tomboy characters: Jo March in Little Women and Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©, to name just two. The word can refer to little girls engaging in what society considers more boyish activities to grown women who “hang with the guys.”

There is no hard-and-fast rule why some girls prefer Tonka trucks and Transformers to tea sets and tiaras, but sociology has established tomboyism to be a normal experience among girls of all cultures and identities.

Unfortunately, most of the psychological research looks at tomboyism in light of gender outcomes as adults, such as homosexuality or transsexuality. But roughhousing young girls shouldn’t have to suffer the presumption that they want to be a boy or will grow up to be a lesbian. In books written for the CBA market, this is certainly not the intended or desired result for our heroines!

Typically, in books targeting Christian readers, the author pens a “one of the guys” kind of girl who refuses to wear pastel, lace, or dresses. She usually ends up donning a dress against her will that is both pastel and lacey for some event, then she realizes that she wants her best guy friend to see her as a romantic interest and look at her as a girl.

How can you spice up this stereotype?

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