Deepshika Dhankar asks the question - whats wrong in being wholly feminine?
She probably isn’t into Barbie. Or Pink. Or long hair. The tomboy raises an image of a girl in baseball hats, short hair and rocky shoes. She wouldn’t be posing for cameras or playing home with other girls. Simply put, she wouldn’t ‘act like a girl’! The term first originated in the mid 16th century when it was actually used to refer to boys who were boisterous and rude. But soon, the usage shifted to the feminine – “a wild girl who acts like a spirited boy.” Most girls exhibit traits of the feminine and masculine and countless shades in between. However, according to the psychologist Dianne Elise in her essay “Tomboys and Cowgirls: The Girl’s Disidentification From the Mother”, she explains that lesbians have reported being tomboys in their youth as compared to straight women.
Inheriting gender-conforming expectations
There are many reasons for why some (many) girls since centuries and even more so today exhibit a growing confidence in not being comfortable in their feminine skins. Maybe it is to do with the ‘liberated’ tomboy image the media projects in society. For example, the Stayfree advertisement promises that a girl can be on her periods and still do ‘guy stuff’. There are many others. Such ads insist that women can build LEGOs, machines and building blocks and still look ‘beautiful’ instead of only playing with dolls. In a way, all these ads are suggesting that women cannot (or need not be) be completely feminine.
An uncomfortable comfort in not being a woman
Many women today come out strongly about owning up-to their ‘tomboy’ image as a false representation of their feminist beliefs. They will speak strong phrases such as ‘Haven’t you noticed? I am not a girly-girl’, ‘I hate all things pink’, ‘I am a tomboy, I don’t do dresses’, etc. If you decode these sentences, you will notice that they find it totally wrong to women, or have had experiences, which pressurized them into not acting from a feminine perspective, or they are simply rejecting a huge part of themselves as a by-product of low self-esteem and self-respect.
Deep into the subconscious of a tomboy
While for the most part, young women might feel happy about their tomboy image, something some-days would feel amiss. Why is that? Because on those days they feel it even more that they are rejecting their very core – their feminine self. And it’s not their fault. Our culture rejects the very idea of authentic femininity and so the girls grow up to be confused about accepting their true self and tend to walk on the dangerous bridge of being confident yet uncomfortable for most of their lives just to be accepted. Subconsciously, the tom-women are constantly rejecting their feminine-self as if it is wrong to be a female. Years and years of suppression from generations has finally made them believe that they would rather be anything else but a woman.
The wrong feminist movement
In the wave of feminism, many of us have understood it wrong, especially women themselves.
Films like Veere Di Wedding are proof that even after decades of fighting for our rights, we still haven’t got it quite right.
We still want to be like men, still want to act like them to feel strong, still like to do stuff that usually men would do to not feel rejected, still want to adopt behaviours of men to appear equal – all of this by rejecting who we really are – women! This type of wrong and in fact anti-feminist movement is misleading young girls all over the world. The point is not, to be able to do what men can do but it is to be able to do whatever we want, which we have interpreted in the worst ways possible.
Regaining the lack of personal power
Who are we? Women! It is that simple. Maybe the whole essence of being a feminist has been derived from the suppressed ownership since generations, of who we are as women. We don’t have to compete with men or look like men to feel human or a valuable part of this world. It is the lack of personal power, which we have learned from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts that we need to regain.
Subconsciously, we have made their reality our own and in the pretence to have conquered the inequality, we are acting like men in order to defeat them.
Hit the gym to be stronger than men if you like, own a motorbike if you like, be sporty, climb trees, change a tyre, take control of things; but check the feelings that are backing you up in all this. Are you coming from a place of hatred for men, or powerlessness, or from a place of enhancing your personal strength?
There is power in femininity, absolutely different from men. We need to reclaim being treated like women — our authentic feminine self, which no tomboy could ever offer. And this starts first with us not rejecting ourselves for what we were born as. Women.