Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard parents and seen some tweets on the Internets referring to girls or themselves as Tomboys and it is bugging me. When people use this term, they are clearly saying that the things a girl like to do are actually boy things and they are different because they like those things. The term has been around for hundreds of years and it has been used as a way to make sense of the fact that there were girls or women that wanted to do things like, wear pants, exercise, play sports, or be more than just barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It was to make it clear that the actions these ladies were partaking in were, in fact, boy things. Calling a girl a tomboy was to make it known those were boy things and being a tomboy was something a girl would eventually grow out of in time.
In 2019, we should really be moving away from classifying young girls as being tomboys because we do not need to reinforce archaic views of what a girl should be doing with their time. We have a serious gap in gender when it comes to STEAM fields and part of that has to do with the notion that science is a boy thing. A term like tomboy supports such crazy notions. Just because a girl likes to get dirty, look at bugs, or run around and noisy, does not make them a tomboy. It makes them a kid.
As educators, it is important to make sure that our kids have a diverse collection of books to choose from that show women in a wide variety of roles. Show all children that women can do anything they want. Need specific titles, check out Pernille Ripp, Matthew Winner, Colby Sharp, or Donalyn Miller for a ton of book recommendations for all types of students. Their twitter feeds are littered with amazing book titles for all ages. As teachers, we need to add the term tomboy to our list of retired words.
Using the word tomboy might seem like an innocent, little thing, but it’s the little, innocent things that need to go if we hope to make real, big, and lasting change.