Tomboy Feminist

by Cindy

Well, what can I say about myself?

I'm the oldest of two girls in my family. Looking back, I was the "son" my parents didn't have...I was the tomboy, the one who ditched dresses by first grade for jeans. I was the one who convinced all the neighborhood kids to get up on the garage roof to jump off when I was six. I was the kid who shed shoes and socks promptly, leaving my mother with the task of collecting and finding them for later reuse.

I was the one who played around with my father's toolbox, who helped him work on his car. I took apart the telephone when I was eight and put it back together -- and it still worked. I loved horses and dogs and while I played with barbie dolls, I always played with Skipper and always had my Breyer horse models for her to ride around on. I was the kid who bargained with her mother that she could stay up to read just as long as it took her to finish the glass of water (you see what came next, of course).

By fifth grade I was so bored with school I was doing literally nothing in the classroom. I wound up with an itinerant tutor who used my love of books to motivate me -- if I finished the weekly work we had assigned to us early on friday I could read the rest of that day. Before long I was finishing everything by thursday afternoon except for one quiz that was scheduled Friday mornings.

OK, so that means...

OK, enough. Now, I can see your anticipation of the storyline: when I hit puberty, this all started to change, my dad didn't let me near his stuff, I had to wear dresses, etc. The usual fate of the tomboy, yadda yadda yadda.

Well, no. I kept doing what I was doing. I was still a whiz in school, I continued to fuss with cars with my dad (in fact, we replaced the engine on the car I chose for myself, a 1965 Volvo -- almost 20 years old by that time). While my mother sighed over the fact that I rarely bothered with a belt or other finishing accessory, she gave me no grief over my refusal to wear skirts. Nor did my disinterest in boys spark any concern.

Sure, I had the usual teen angst. Wanted to do everything my way, and couldn't always do so. But no one is in a position to do everything they want. But the crucial point is that by and large, being a girl was the least of my problems or obstacles I faced growing up.

Why was that?

Is that the third wave, or the results of a particularly obtuse individual? I don't know. I do think that if the second wave hadn't existed, my mother would have been very different about some things in my adolescence.

None of this means, of course, that I haven't experienced sexism or other forms of -isms in my life or that I havne't been affected by them. But I think some women's stories are able to change, and I'm hopeful that this will become true in more and more cases.

Why am I here? I have never hesitated to speak out about things I feel strongly about. I have never thought it necessary to back down and be nice just so that I didn't damage someone's conception of what a woman should be like. I see a lot of hypocrisy and self serving people out there -- some of them are men. Some of them are other feminists trying to tell me what to do.

Oh, does that mean I'm one of those women? The selfish ones who can't work with anyone else because they are so focused on what they want to do? If you think my community building skills are lacking, then you haven't paid attention to the structure and setup of this site, have you?

Copyright 1997 by Cindy