What is Female Masculinity?

The reading that stuck with me is Halberstam “Female Masculinity”. When I was reading this paper all I could think about was how can one person determine what is considered for boys and what is considered for girls and have society accept it. Halberstam says that as long as a child is in the prepubescent stage being a tomboy isn’t threatening but once she hits puberty she needs to “act her gender”. Personally this statement angers me because up until I was 12 I was a tomboy, but if I continued being a tomboy I would be considered a “threat” to society?! I would wear sweatpants, a sweatshirt and sneakers everyday and looking back now I could tell people were wondering why I wasn’t dressing like a “typical girl”. How can a girl dressing the way she feels comfortable and herself make people around her feel uncomfortable and judgmental. Halberstam mentions a situation when two females felt uncomfortable because they weren’t sure if a woman in the woman’s restroom was female because she looked masculine. Since when was there one set look for a female to look like. I think that people have a mindset that females need to be petite and feminine all the time and if a female steps out of the boundaries (and has big muscles or dresses differently) people don’t know what to do and feel threatened. Take Ellen DeGeneres for an example she never dresses like a “typical girl” and people don’t question her. Is it because she’s famous she has a hierarchy status. Society needs to realize that gender isn’t a boxed in subject and that woman will dress and act they way she wants to.


3 thoughts on “What is Female Masculinity?

  1. From reading this article, I’m reminded of how I grew up as a tomboy and I always felt like an outcast. When other girls around me were growing up and talking to boys, I was sitting at home playing basketball and not caring about my appearance. When I was in third/fourth grade that’s when I started to really feel the distinction between what was “appropriate” in society’s eyes. My mom was always telling me “honey, why don’t you do your hair. You always look so much prettier when your hair is straight”. As if that defined who I was as a person and that if I didn’t go out of the house looking perfect than I no one would want to talk to me/approach me. It just feels like girls are always held to a higher standard and if we don’t act and dress the way we’re supposed to, then the world is going to end. I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand it to be honest.


  2. reading Halberstams, “Female Masculinity,” especially the part about when being considered a “tom boy” and then hitting puberty and becoming a “threat” really was eye opening to me too because I was what was considered a tom boy all the way until when I hit puberty and I didn’t even realize that I “conformed.” But thats exactly what happened to me and I’m sad/mad I didn’t stick to wearing cargo pants and trying to skateboard lol. I remember wanting to shop in the boys section with my mom and wanting to keep u with the boys and climbing trees as high as I could, and my mom and dad just let me do just that and supported me always, It wasn’t until mingled school when my peers around me started influencing me, or when teachers would make comments as to how I looked different or acted “not like the other girls” or were worried because, ” I didn’t make girl friends as easily as boys.” I remember when i got older my parents were even hinting and asking if I was questioning, or if I liked girls, and I was just like “where did that even come from? I’m 13? Let me live my life” Growing up and still today I’m still confused with my own gender and sexuality and I am now realizing it’s pressures like these that are making me so confused, I just want to be me, not what anyone else wants me to be and let other people do there own thing too. Why is that so hard for people to understand?


  3. I feel like I, along with many other women are the epitome of ‘female masculinity’ in the way that we dress to go to class or run errands (or just all the time). I enjoy wearing comfortable clothing, but since high school I have noticed a divide between the girls who would dress up for class and the individuals who wore more gender neutral/’masculine’ clothing. This has no correlation to my sexual preference or identity but maybe that I just want to feel comfortable, it does not make me or anyone else less of a woman or less feminine and it does not mean I am insecure or hiding my body. People would always make passive comments about the way I dress, some would even go as far to ask me to dress up to give them ‘something pretty to look at’. It is derogatory comments like these that make definitions like ‘female masculinity’ exist.


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