Embrace Your Inner Tomboy to Be More Feminine?

Often in the West we tend to think of tomboys and feminine as a dichotomy. Either you’re a tomboy or a girly-girl. Whether you’re a child or an adult, those are your choices. If you’re lucky you can be “tomboyish” or “girlish”, rather than in one camp or another, but generally you’re stuck with those choices. Especially so in modern Western countries, but even in old Spanish texts do we find girls being called “Marimacho” (male Mary) and in Japan they call a less delicate girl “otemba” (from the Dutch for “untameable”). Whatever they used to mean and whoever they used to be assigned to, as Americanization advances, slowly these terms come to mean any woman who isn’t girly enough. Either you are feminine and virtuous or butch and unruly.

However, as I explored in “Should Femininity be a Primary Duty?“, femininity isn’t quite that simple. On the one hand, there does seem to be a form of pure Western femininity.

So femininity, in terms of dress, is “somewhere between pretty and beautiful”. I’d say that summary applies to most other aspects of femininity also. Not girlish, but not boyish. Mature, but not sexy. Well-kept, but not overdone. Attractive, delicate, coquette, coy, friendly, open, reserved and polite. Somewhere between a girl and a woman, miles away from a whore or a man.

I’d say that makes good sense, wouldn’t you?

When we look at images of conventionally feminine women, we see skirts and dresses from just above the knee downwards, maybe slightly higher if it’s obviously warm or she’s on a beach. We see long, well-groomed hair and long-ish, well-groomed nails. We see a splash of make-up; not attention-seeking, but pleasing to the eye. We see women who stand with their backs straight and their shoulders back, their chins not too high in the air, their hips and busts not tilted alluringly, no slouch; just a graceful, unabashed, non aggressive woman. We see women who write, who sew, who clean, who care, who cook and talk. We see mothers, secretaries, teachers, nurses and cooks. Examples abound in the pictures I have inserted between these paragraphs. That is what feminine looks like. That is what feminine is. If you seek to be purely, wholly feminine, be everything described, everything portrayed and nothing else.

But this femininity, whilst superficially perfect, is still incomplete. If you strive to be feminine, then you need to also strive for more. A porcelain doll, a Disney princess or a Stepford wife is perfectly feminine. But that sort of femininity is also empty. Porcelain dolls are fragile and purposeless, Disney princesses are infantile, Stepford wives are inhuman and loveless. Which is where the tomboy comes in. You see, tomboys are not, as is often and increasingly assumed, gender-challenging, masculine girl-beasts. A tomboy can be anything from butch to just a girl who’s a little rough around the edges, and the latter is more common than the former. Tomboys are still part of the spectrum of femininity and whilst a butch or masculine girl could learn a lot from porcelain dolls and princesses, princesses could also learn a lot from tomboys.

So what are the benefits of being a tomboy?

Well, the first one is physical and mental resilience. Tomboys grew up falling out of trees, almost drowning, getting bitten by animals and other children, being shoved around by larger, stronger boys, practicing martial arts. Tomboys grew up being called ugly or butch, being insulted for neglecting fashion and celebrity drama, being teased and sworn at by the boys they spent the day with. Everyone eventually builds up some resilience to life as they grow up, but a tomboy specifically builds up that physical toughness, pain endurance, internal fortitude and emotional coolness that so many dramatic princesses could use once in a while.

Secondly, all this rough and tumble has an effect on your body. If you love looking good, having curves and leanness and good skin and lustrous hair, then you may be surprised to know that under the dungarees, dusty hair and makeup-less face, the tomboy has it in spades. Humans are meant to be physically active. Otherwise in the wild we would starve or be eaten, die of cold or drown. We need endurance, muscle and lightness. So it’s not really surprising that the sort of figure we find most attractive in a woman, be we male or female, straight or gay, is a lean one with a bit of muscle for shape and a bit of fat for health. To boot, keeping active and healthy encourages the rest of your body to follow suit, leading to clearer skin, better hair and nails and brighter eyes. In short, playing football, going hiking, gardening or lifting weights is making tomboys primally sexy.

And you best start lifting weights, playing sports, taking apart engines or climbing trees, because all this love of or indifference to mess is beneficial in and of itself. If you plan to be kept by a man, then you need to add something more to the table than what he can get from a doll. If you plan to keep yourself, then you need to be ready to keep your own home and pull your weight at work. Whatever you do, some strength in the face of mud, rain, bleach, drool, dust, paint, oven cleaner, polish, ink, etc will improve your ability to be a functional human being.

And whether you plan on being kept by a man, keeping men, dating men, being one of the guys or just surviving work, some ability to relate also helps. Whilst not everyone fits into their designated “camp Mars” or “camp Venus”, some stereotypes are there because people are clichés. Most men like some sort of sport, either watching, playing or discussing. Most women have a vague idea of some sort of sport and know more athletes’ names than they do rules to any given sport. Most men keep clean and tidy and minimalist. Most women dress up and load down with makeup, jewels, house decoration and accessories. Whilst a tomboy could still dress like a woman and learn the names of famous athletes by heart, the formative years she spent around boys have given her a healthy appreciation for the things that most men like and a deeper understanding of male conversation. The tomboy can discuss the latest scores, throw some insults around, receive some insults with good grace and stay friendly or intimate with a man in a way the princesses can’t even understand.

Finally, where a tomboy’s character can often be too brash, loud or generally rude to attract many romantic partners, when used carefully it can be a lifesaver in everyday situations. Being able to take a parking space without worrying about it, to turn down a guy’s advances loudly and clearly, to eat her meal even if she forgot her fork and its a mess, to carry her own luggage, to get an annoying coworker to shut up… Being able to do all of this makes life much easier for the tomboy and those around her. Provided she knows when to use it and when not to.

As you have probably guessed from all the qualifiers, these tomboy traits have their pros and cons compared to the feminine alternative. In fact, they are actually best combined with more feminine traits. It’s better to be a woman who can relate to men, but still mother and nurture them, than to be a woman who is unreleable to men or who is harsh and masculine. It’s better to be a woman who looks after herself but is happy to get messy when it is vitally necessary, than to be a delicate doll or a scruffy, unwashed kid. However, and I hate to break this to you, but a lot of tomboys seem to naturally find that balance at some point before they hit 25. They learn to do just enough to please their partners, to get taken seriously at work and to have conversation with other women. Some may benefit from being a little more feminine, but there are far fewer tomboys without any feminine traits than there are feminine women without any tomboy traits.

And how does this balance actually work? Well, as mentioned, tomboys aren’t masculine. They’re often more a Farmer’s Wife and less a greasemonkey. Likewise, not all butch behaviours are tomboyish: some are just plain masculine. So this balance is found outside the masculine, but not quite into porcelain-doll-feminine. Expressed as a table, it would look something like this:

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Very feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Mostly feminine.

Mostly of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Not feminine.

Soft Feminine is dominant makeup, dress up, nurturing, pleasantness, very light activity and cleanliness. Stereotypical princess, kept wife, precious daughter, welfare queen.

Rough Feminine is dominant cleaning, washing, playing, mothering, harshness and straight-forwardness. Stereotypical farmer’s wife, professional athlete, working class woman, SAHM.

Soft Masculine is dominant professionalism, elegance, politeness, business, cleanliness and strength. Stereotypical secretary, accountant, programmer, lab tech.

Harsh Masculine is dominant manual labour, frankness, bluntness, strength, pride and honesty. Stereotypical lorry driver, manager, warehouse worker, working with animals.

Of course, there is some overlap of traits, but those are the positives generally found in that personality. Therefore, the girly tomboys lie in the green “Mostly Feminine”. If you seek to be feminine, these are actually the sort of girls you want to emulate. The “Very Feminine” soft girls may be more superficially feminine, but are less humanly feminine, less practical as people. In some situations being very feminine may help, but generally, if you plan on being feminine, it will lead you to hurdle after hurdle. The “Sort of Feminine” girls are the sort that pass as women, but are unrelateable to many other women and unattractive to most men. These are often immature tomboys or cliché tomboys. The “Not Feminine” girls are the only group that is actually properly butch.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each group, so of course it’s up to you which you wish to be. But if you wish to be feminine, confusingly, you actually reap more of the rewards of femininity if you add a touch of tomboy and try and keep in the green zones.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

And you? What are your goals in terms of femininity? What do you expect to get out of them? Where would you put yourself on the scale?

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2 thoughts on “Embrace Your Inner Tomboy to Be More Feminine?

  1. Pingback: Creme de la Creme | Girls Being Girls

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