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"You Throw Like A Girl!" + Suzanne MacNevin's Guide to Raising a Tomboy

"You Throw Like A Girl!"

By Suzanne MacNevin

That is one of the worst insults you can give a male. And worse, it is sexist at the same time.

According to my source "You 'anything' like a girl!" is a pretty hefty insult. It ranks up there with being called a "fag" or a "momma's boy". Anything that is somehow less than manly.

True, some females are poor at tossing a ball around. Throwing rocks, balls, etc. aren't considered to be the popular activities of little girls. Or grown women for that matter.

Sports wise little girls are expected to play hop-scotch and jump rope, while boys are running around playing tag, riding skateboards and shooting each other with water pistols.

But seriously, when you think about it, what is so wrong about being a tomboy?

I was a tomboy and to me it was really a matter of being more confident, more rugged when it came to sports and athleticism, and I actually knew how to throw a baseball properly.

So being a tomboy just means you're athletic. That is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Yet in our modern sports culture it is not women athletes that admired. Baseball? Football? Hockey? Soccer? All dominated by men.

But why is it dominated by men? I think it is because as girls grow older people condition them by saying things like "Don't be such a tomboy!" or "You're going to be a lesbian when you grow up! All tomboys become lesbians!"

Which is utter nonsense. There is a lot of old urban myths stating that if women sweat too much that they can't have kids, that being athletic makes your ovaries shrivel up and die, that your breasts will become all firm and you'll look like a man (not possible unless the person was on steroids).

We've been raised in a culture with lesbian pulp fiction books like "I Was Once A Tomboy Now I'm A Full-Grown Lesbian" or "Tomboy" which promotes the idea that tomboys = lesbians. Some tomboys may grow up to be lesbians, but it is statistically untrue that ALL do.

There is a time in every child's life when they first learn how to throw a ball. Sometimes they just don't learn properly.

And it happens to both boys and girls. With practice you get better at it. Your arm muscles grow stronger and you're able to throw it farther and harder.

But like weightlifting throwing a ball around is not something young girls are encouraged to do. Boys tossing the ball back and forth with their fathers is expected, as natural as "going fishing with the guys" or "deer hunting with your uncle".

But for women, unless we actually express an interest in specific sports, fishing, hunting or whatever, we're not actually expected to exercise, know how to throw a ball properly or even a simple task like jump a fence.

Some grown women wouldn't get caught dead trying to jump or climb over a chain-link fence. For some silly reason they think its difficult (if you've never done it before you're likely to think it was difficult too).

Yet learning to hop over a fence (or even vault over it) is a basic skill for any young boy or tomboy. As is learning to throw, ride a bicycle, a skateboard, climb a tree and any other skill requiring strength, dexterity and practice.

They're not things they teach in school or even boy scouts/girl guides. Stop and consider what they do teach in boy scouts: Archery, soccer, ball hockey, horseback riding, canoeing, how to survive in the wilderness, basic carving skills, how to use a Swiss Army Knife. What do they teach in Girl Guides...? How to bake Girl Guide Cookies and other domestic things.

Have I made my point yet?

It is not that girls can't throw a ball around, it is the sad fact that we aren't teaching them how to throw it, let alone catch it.

And those wimpy boys that just haven't figured it out yet just need more practice and to build up some extra muscle.

It is the difference with professionals and amateurs and girls need to start thinking "Gee, I'd like to go outside and toss the ball back and forth with my family!"

And shame on any woman or man who calls those girls tomboys or pokes fun at them for wanting to get better at it.

Suzanne MacNevin's Guide to Raising a Tomboy

#1. Buy her a water-pistol. Buy her several so friends/you can play too. Let her go nuts with it in the yard. Good for hand-eye coordination and will greatly enhance her aim when she plays basketball in highschool.

#2. Let her play with the boys. At that young age they don't care whether its a boy or girl they're playing with. Little kids just wanna have fun.

#3. Buy her clothes she can play rough in. Some clothes are too dainty for certain activities and that restricts what games little girls will play. Playing tag in her best Sunday dress, getting grass stains all over it and a scolding from her angry parents sends the message that girls can't play tag or any game that might cause grass stains.

#4. Consider cutting her hair short so that it can be more easily managed. Less work = more play.

#5. Don't spend all her toy money on dolls, stuffed animals, etc. If you have a toy budget I recommend setting aside a certain amount for buying sports equipment like the following: Baseball glove and balls, rollerblades, skateboard. Try to keep in mind what toys are actually beneficial to your child's education/physical health. Lego = Good for math and spatial skills. $100 stuffed animal that she will never play with = Bad. Rollerblades, hockey stick and tennis balls = Good for building self-esteem and muscle. The complete limited edition Disney Princess DVD collection = Bad. Books she will read and enjoy = Good for literacy skills.

#6. Keep track of every time your daughter wants to do something you consider to be "boyish" and admonish yourself for trying to restrict her to more "girlish activities". What? You want her to sew and cook all day? They can still learn those things, but don't let it be the only things she learns. It is no wonder so many young women are obsessed with fashion magazines and developing unhealthy appetites (or lack thereof).

#7. If your daughter wants to sit on the floor or sit with her legs wide apart start buying her more pants, including dress pants for special occasions.

#8. Don't limit your topics of conversation. If your daughter wants to talk sports, talk sports. If she wants to talk politics, talk politics. If she is interested in science, talk science. Show an interest in what she is interested in and encourage her to consider all her options.

#9. If she goes topless and pretends she is a boy for the day let her, but keep an extra eye out for predators.

#10. Raising a tomboy is actually quite simple: Don't hinder her just because of her gender.

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