I know I tend to commence all my write-up reminiscing my childhood days, and for this one, I will still do the same. When I was in primary school I had this primary school teacher whose daughter was rumoured to be acting like “a boy”. They announced that she tames her growing breasts, puts on baggy jeans, and loose shirts, with beadles unattractive cornrows to further accentuate her masculinity. I did see it, I saw vividly the “man” In her because by far what she appears like physically was that of a boy. (No argument)
It took me a while to grasp that although she was biologically a woman( a cis-woman) she still wasn’t regarded as one because she chose to not live her life based on societal standards of femininity, It was more like she was stripped of her womanhood, and I know she didn’t want to be referred to as a boy, but since society had other plans for her, she sort of delved into her new fate of being “a boy”. I realized that she was feminine, and certainly wasn’t physically changing her gender without having the hassle of undergoing gender reconstructive surgery. She only wanted to dress like that and still be seen as a girl/woman. I think that it is awfully flawed for society to had linked her choices automatically to masculinity. Girls can be in different forms, physical appearance and personalities away from the “norm” and still be seen as a girl.
The definition of societal femininity is so rigid, without any room for creativity or diversity, that’s why I do not agree with the idea that a certain standard should be a criterion for all women to abide by, you can’t box all women into a small airtight space and certainly cannot hypnotize them ( like Daniel Kaluuya in that horror movie “Get out”) to behave a prescribed way and tag it “femininity”, because there would be an inflow of personalities different from every woman which isn’t specified in your “femininity rule book”
Shockingly, when I was growing up I had three older brothers and at about two or three years old, I discovered that I was different from my brothers and I didn’t welcome the thought ( I gave it a very cold reception) I wanted to be like them,( a boy), so I refused to wear a gown to nursery school because I intended to wear shorts. I remember when my dad bought me a gown one Christmas and I revolted to put it on, on December 25th, so my dad had to go back to town to get me “boy things” stuff like baggy jeans, sneakers and a dull coloured big shirt. Not only did I crave to be a boy physically, I also infused that in my hobbies and dislikes, so I watched football always and played sometimes, and I also joined my brothers to argue about the Apocalypse and World War I, I played a variety of video games and I started resenting to watch local home movies. It was nice because I learned to rap to Kanye West’s College Dropout album and songs from Jay Z and 50 Cent.
I did all that because I felt and saw that I was dressed differently from my brothers, talked to differently and was told to behave differently and I couldn’t understand why that was happening, so I joined them in sailing on a never-ending masculinity journey. I meant it when I said that I wanted to a boy because one day, I revealed to my mom shockingly and in distress that I was looking for my “thing” I had wanted to pee and I couldn’t find it, so I freaked out.
My parents actually allowed me to do all I wanted and my mom’s reply to me losing my thing, was that “I will get it soon, so I should be using what I have for now”. My dad still tells me the story and it is still funny, ( he has said it like a zillion times) and I still laugh which shows you how epic it was and even now as I am writing this, I am drowning in a pool of nostalgic euphoria ( I hope I don’t die though).
The reason for my behaviour just shows how instantly a child’s choices are selected to fit “a boy” or “a girl” stereotype, right from the delivery room. ( like the farmer who quickly selects newly laid eggs into different sizes for strategic sales). You go shopping for your newborn baby and you can see a mirage of disparities from boys and girls items, and it is quite alarming because at such tender age the physical attributes of babies are the same and don’t matter, but yet you will still spot a colourful shirt of mostly the colour pink with a ” be happy or be nice” inscription on the front side to guide you that it is for a baby girl, so you do not ignorantly get it for a baby boy because the colour pink will cause him to convulse when worn and you certainly do not want that to happen.
When I look back at my two-year-old self, I know that I wasn’t trying to be a boy, even though that was my intended plan, society didn’t just hesitate to tag me a boy because they perceived my choices as “masculine”, when in fact it was not, as those choices can also fit into femininity peacefully. (and it was never masculine in the first place, they are for everyone). The baggy shirts, the rap songs, and all the “boy stuff” I did were not out of the box for a girl and no one should have tagged me masculine for doing that. I also didn’t want to be a boy, I only wanted to not be different based on my gender, that was why I started doing “boys stuff” to subside the differences I detected. I see it all now and I know exactly what I was running from.
Furthermore, when I grew up I dropped some of my “masculine dressing”, I wore more of gowns and small shirts, but I didn’t change my behaviour or my hobbies. It was also hard for me to see myself as an “authentic girl” in secondary school so, it was an emotional turmoil for me to have to constantly go back and forth with two different personalities. I didn’t want to give up on my “male hobbies” just so that I can embrace full womanhood, so I made a balance to have both working simultaneously. I will be a girl on the outside appearance and a boy on the inside. ( for me it was a perfect solution) but I didn’t pull it off properly because when I was in SS1, I was the only girl to have visibly shining sport waves, so the waves sought of blew my cover, (and now I wonder how Miley Cyrus was able to pull off her being Hannah Montana without suspect). I was still seen as a girl who is a “guy” due to the fact that my personality switching skill was horrible.
Soon, I saw myself as a “tomboy” it was better than “a girl who acts like a boy” and although they carry the same meaning, the phrase tomboy was more fun, more like in vogue and sexy in a way, so I carried my new definition on my head like traders hawking oranges.
Then years went by, and I forgot about being a tomboy, it didn’t occur to me anymore, the excitement was dead and I had already infused myself into my new being. (A girl who navigates her life holding both “female” and “male” personalities on both hands).
In conclusion, I wasn’t a tomboy either, I was just a girl. ( no prefix nor suffix). Just a teenage girl who has lived a girl her entire life.
There is great satisfaction in knowing that I had cracked the code of my complicated childhood on my own, which I am indeed very happy about, and I would also be happy when my dad once again tells me my compelling story of how I renounced “girlhood” while growing up and I would still laugh hysterically.