Why I Refuse To Call My Daughter A Tomboy
Catherine Connors

Catherine, I applaud you. This is such a fraught and complex area of parenting and of human behaviour. You are absolutely right to not want to label your daughter, or, more importantly, have her label herself. While most of us are easily categorised as anatomically male or female, that is only a part of the story and some people choose to migrate from one to the other.

What is important is that, despite our anatomical gender, we all have a mixture of what we label feminine and masculine ob a very fluid scale. The shame is that in most of our societies (I’m in Australia), we like to define what behviour is appropriate for each gender and that circumscribes each of us if we let it.

At primary school, I spent more time with girls than with boys.When I was a high school student (at an all boys school), I was not interested in most of the things the other boys were interested in. At university I would often hang out with female students because I preferred their energy and the fact that discussions were more about feelings and inner experiences. I was often labelled by male students as weird and told I would end up as a ‘homo’ — I haven’t.

It will be so liberating for your daughter to grow up as a balanced human being who can express all aspects of herself, without her having to label them as this or that.

By the way, I don’t like the label ‘feminist’ for the same reasons as you don’t like ‘tomboy’. We need to come up with a new term that means the full expression of being human; unfortunately, ‘humanist’ has been taken. Please let me know if you come up with something suitable.

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