Erica's Reviews > Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

Tomboy by Liz Prince
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Because I recently read An Age of License: A Travelogue and In Real Life, Goodreads has been hinting that I would probably like Tomboy.
Fate conspired to test that theory when this book came across my desk today.
Because Goodreads doesn't quite understand the content in reviews, it didn't understand that maybe I wouldn't like Tomboy based upon what I said about those other two books.
In this case, I am happy that GR doesn't have artificial intelligence yet because it was right - I enjoyed this book.

I think this story will strike a chord with anyone who doesn't/didn't fit in during elementary through secondary school years (that's pretty much everyone, right? Because even those who did fit in didn't feel like they really fit in but more that they were just faking it for making it, right?)

I identified strongly with Ms. Prince's plight to establish herself as a girl without the frilly trappings of effeminance. I felt especially sad for her having to go through her early struggle in the middle of the '80's when the girl/boy separatism exploded as marketing groups realized they could make ten billion more dollars if they aimed clothing, toys, books, movies, cereal, etc at individual genders and not at kids, in general. I'm sure it was very difficult to stand in the face of consumerism and shout, "I will NOT wear your flower-patterned leggings with a matching dress!"
It was easier ten years earlier. There were girl things and boy things but there were a larger amount of just kid things. A girl could wear a red, green, and brown striped shirt with orange corduroys, just like a boy. A boy could play with a Raggedy Andy doll just like a girl. The '80's changed that landscape and the kids who had to navigate the extreme gender conformity are going to be jacked-up forever, I'm sure. I'm basing this opinion on nothing whatsoever and am basically making random, unsupported statements, just so you know.

So this story winds up being less about gender identity, despite what it says on the back cover as well as the Library of Congress subject heading, and more about inculturated gender norms in American society. I say this because while Liz wishes she were a boy, she wants the power of privilege, not necessarily the penis. She is a girl, she knows she's a girl, she's fine being a girl, she just doesn't want to have to adhere to the Rules of Girls, i.e. makeup, pink everything, cattiness, kittens, glitter, dresses, etc. She wants to be comfortable as a girl of her choosing and if she can't do that, then she wants to be a boy because they get more choices.
I thought she illustrated (literally and figuratively) this point well, realizing, with the help of those who have some wisdom, that it's not her gender she questions, but the insidious, pervasive beliefs surrounding the identity of her gender, if that makes sense.

I'm glad she eventually found her tribe. It's something we all strive to do else we end up as loners and while some of us thrive on our own, most of us need at least one other human with whom to share the burdens and joys of life.
Rock your jeans and t-shirts, Liz. You can be a kick-ass girl without being girly. You can also be girly and be kick-ass. There really are no rules, especially after you realize that the rules were all fake in the first place.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Debbie "DJ" Yup...I'm jacked up forever!! Must read this one, thanks!

Debbie "DJ" Oh no! I just bought I have 9,999 books to read. :)

Erica Debbie "DJ" wrote: "Oh no! I just bought I have 9,999 books to read. :)"

But don't worry! This one goes quickly; it has pictures.

Debbie "DJ" Haha, yeah for pictures!

Kelly (and the Book Boar) This is a great review . . . but what are these "other humans with whom to share the burdens and joys of life" you speak of? Are those the things that invade my house every night and refuse to put their dishes away or pick up their dirty underpants????

message 6: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Yes, Kelly. Cleaning is for girls.

Kelly (and the Book Boar) Miriam wrote: "Yes, Kelly. Cleaning is for girls."

That's what I keep getting told. Guess I should stop arguing about it ; )

message 8: by Miriam (new)

Miriam If you have daughters you can start indoctrinating them now.

Kelly (and the Book Boar) Miriam wrote: "If you have daughters you can start indoctrinating them now."

Sadly my house is filled with penis. I don't even have a female animal : (

message 10: by Miriam (new)

Miriam It is possible to teach penis-possessors to clean, but I think you have to either start as soon as they can walk, or send them to military school.

Erica Military school is the better bet because they learn to iron like an austere English housekeeper. (Do austere English housekeepers iron really well? Because that's supposed to indicate the military schools teach kids to be really good at ironing)
I know I wouldn't be able to teach anyone to do that because...well...I just cant. See?

message 12: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Advantage of military school: correct training, undertaken by someone other than you. Plus no longer having to feed or listen to your children.

Disadvantage of military school: not free, and requires several years of cleaning up after the kids while they're too young to attend.

Erica Wait, they don't have Military Daycare? Like, for the 3-month-old and up?

message 14: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Only for military personnel. And I feel like you and Gabe might not care for the armed service lifestyle... all those hair regulations, you know.

Erica Yeah, I already knew of my inability to conform to a military lifestyle. I grew up next to the Air Force Academy and we've got about forty Army bases in the area. Many of my friends were from military families and I found out it didn't mesh with my own personal life choices. But it made for an interesting dating pool in high school!

message 16: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I went to school with some army brats but the base closed while I was in high school.

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