Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Trio of Tomboys

Is it just me or do the more popular female lit protagonists share this particular trait in common: they tend to step outside of the expected norms of behavior. Here is a quick lit list:

Katniss Everdeen: hunter
Elizabeth Bennett: outspoken
Antonia: ran the farm
Hattie Inez: homesteader; journalist
Pippi Longstocking: indefatigable personality
Thursday Next: amazing skills
Jo March: independent spirit (psst–a writer when it wasn’t in vogue)

Hmm, most of these ladies might be under the broad category of tomboy (I rather liked than unintentional pun, thank you)



Tomboy. Is it a label of distinction or derision? What is a tomboy? According to one source (, it’s a derivative of tomcat, which is odd because a tomcat is all out male. I’m trying to catch on to the logic here–cats usually associated with female and by designating a girl as tomboy it’s saying she’s a boy cat instead of a girl cat? I’ll put a pause on that line of thought and jump right in the learned fact that there are different categories of tomboy. lists over a dozen types of tomboys. I had no idea.

My favorite reads usually involve spunky heroines and among my childhood reads are a trio of tomboys. I think I appreciated them so much because we shared so many characteristics:

Scout: overalls are indeed comfortable, I have two sets in my closet
Laura Ingalls: playing ball at recess beats the snot out of gossiping with the girls at lunch
Caddie Woodlawn: running around outside having adventures is a much better way of growing up

I have settled down somewhat, although I would still be playing church softball league if I hadn’t messed up my shoulder, and I have a difficult time passing up a playground, let alone skipping rocks. and climbing trees. And yeah, I would prefer watching Red Dawn II instead of Legally Blonde II. The male progeny are realizing theirs is not a normal, or at least expected mum. Is that a problem? I can make brownies or meat loaf when needed, but I’d rather be up to bat.

Maybe that’s why my character, Rebecca, in my historical novel is a tomboy–often a little of “me” goes into the “who” I create on the pages in my stories.

What are your thoughts on tomboys? Who can I add to my lit list of fave tomboys in the annals of literary girls who just can conform to the expected norm?

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10 thoughts on “Trio of Tomboys

  1. Luanne on said:

    Such a great post. I love these spunky protagonists!

  2. Love the S.E. Hinton quote!

  3. Maribeth on said:

    S.E. Hinton is one of my favorites. The Outsiders is my all time favorite book and movie. I loved Pipi and would also would much rather watch Red Dawn over Legally Blonde. I always connected with the boys. I enjoy being a girl but have no problem hanging with the boys.
    Great post!

    • Appreciate your comments. I think it’s a bit unfair girls can do boy stuff without too much repercussion, yet guys get serious flak if they like “girl” stuff.

      • Maribeth on said:

        Agree, I like a man who is touch with his feminine side, to me that makes him more masculine. 🙂

      • That’s why I raised my male progeny to appreciate Pride and Prejudice and learn how to cook. They have no problems when it comes to getting a girls attention 🙂

  4. I don’t think it’s discrimination…girl I’ve know personally that were, wanted to be called tomboys. It’s a girl thing and nothing more from my experience…I have never known of any negativity associated with it except that which they show in the movies…so if there is negativism…I would blame the media for it.

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