Gender has often dictated the roles and responsibilities that individuals are expected to fulfill. Societies in general still adhere to a strict gender binary system, and have largely been either intolerant of or, at minimum, uncomfortable with those who break from such a system. The tomboy figure has been the recipient of societal judgement for what has been interpreted to be a subversion of and deviance from traditional gender norms, and this has played out in a variety of ways. For instance, literary depictions of the tomboy—as the manifestations of the dominant cultural attitude—have captured both the aversion to as well as an evolving disposition toward non-feminine female characters. To trace and evaluate this trajectory, we utilize a framework provided by posthumanist theory, in conjunction with the pragmatic method. Important strains contained within posthumanism and pragmatism reject philosophical assumptions that there exists a single, true ontology, while promoting this-worldly notions concerning inclusion and diversity. By demonstrating how the tomboy has challenged presumptive ways of thinking, and continues to dispel preconceived notions and cultural expectations, we seek to show that the tomboy identity and disposition are to be celebrated for their authenticity and nonconformance, particularly as border-blurring and boundary-reducing, rather than deviating from or, for that matter, mirroring some purported true humanity. To accept such—that is, to hold any figure, tomboy or otherwise, as paradigmatic—would amount to a metaphysical endorsement for the knowability of a one and accurate experience, human or, even, otherwise. Alternatively, for us, the tomboy can serve as a valid model for how to undermine and help dismantle patriarchal and other prejudicial ideologies. Last, we attempt to show the increasing obsolescence of foundationalism as well as to ultimately offer the tomboy figure as a champion for continual self-enlargement, within a larger, posthumanist pragmatic process of self-creation.
Martin, Aaron; Gubbala, Spurthi; Huth, Marissa J.; Johnson, Sarah M.; and Romaya, Amanda
"A Posthumanist Pragmatism: Rereading Tomboys,"
Cultural Encounters, Conflicts, and Resolutions: Vol. 4:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cecr/vol4/iss1/7