Academic Scholarship

Where Have All the Tomboys Gone? Women's Accounts of Gender in Adolescence

Sex Roles, 56(7-8), 439- 448, March 2007

Photo Needed C Lynn Carr, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

This study was designed to investigate accounts of tomboyism cessation and continuation in adolescence in the narratives of a small sample of adult, working and lower-middle class, New Jersey-area lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women who identified as childhood tomboys. Study participants discussed several reasons for ceasing and continuing tomboyism in adolescence, including maturation, heterosexual interests, parental and peer pressures, athletic participation, and sexual desires for girls or women. Several participants questioned the tomboy label by highlighting discrepancies between behavior and identification. Women’s relationships to the varied gendered meanings referenced in the “tomboy” label, the salience of women’s adult sexualities in their narratives of gender in adolescence, and the dangers for scholars of presuming conformity and heterosexuality are discussed.


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