The Tomboy vs. The Feminist

I’ve spent most of my life being called a feminist. Last week, I was actually dubbed a “geeky feminist”.

The problem is, I don’t see myself as a feminist. I see myself as a tomboy.

I’ve always preferred action figures to Barbie. My cartoon choices have nearly always been the action cartoons (oddly enough, my favorite manga/anime are both shojo, or girl-style). While I threw the occasional tea party and designed fashions for my dolls, I preferred playing G.I. Joe and Transformers with my guy friends. I’ve never really kept girl friends unless they were other tomboys.

When you run one of those gender tests over my writing, the test always says I’m a guy. Most guys accept me as one of the guys, so much so that they will literally forget I’m a girl. My (all male) roommates have actually thanked me for not being a girl.

That’s me…I’m just one of the guys. Always have been, probably always will be.

I’m assertive. I’m fairly straight-forward. I don’t see that I shouldn’t be able to do whatever I want. When I’m told what I can’t do, I take it as a challenge and prove the person wrong. I’m not overly concerned with fashion, but do at least bother to look simply put-together.

I’m also the one the directors like to put the girl algebra students with when possible. I’m apparently a good role model for girls in math.

Does any of that make me a feminist? According to friends, family, and strangers, yes , it does. Not a militant feminist (as I was accused of after a series of door-holding incidents in ninth grade), but a feminist nonetheless.

Granted, most of my experiences with feminist has been with the militant type. The ones who are oppressed by men and aren’t going to take it any more. The ones who eschew traditional roles solely because they are traditional roles. They’re scary, and I really don’t want to be identified with them.

I’m now being told that because I don’t let my gender define what I’m capable of, because I encourage my fellow women to challenge tradition and only accept it when it’s their own decision to do so, that makes me a modern feminist. By encouraging my fellow women to find their choices, research all the options, and then to follow their instinct, I’m a modern feminist.

But the tomboy in me says, “Yeah, but I do the same with my boys, too. I’m forever telling them to trust themselves and do what’s right for them.” Does that lessen my feminist appearance?

A friend told me I need to read the modern feminists, but I honestly don’t have a clue where to begin. Maybe there is a way to reconcile the tomboy, the coach, with some version of feminism. Any suggestions?

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