Tomboys, Pansies, and Biblical Gender Roles

Today’s Story Monday is a bit different. Just something on my mind.

images of Caddie Woodlawn book by Carol Ryrie Brink
images of Caddie Woodlawn book by Carol Ryrie Brink

The other day my daughter grabbed a book to take with her as we headed off on an errand of some sort. She and my son love to read in the car. The book she grabbed was the above, Caddie Woodlawn. I’ve not read it, but my daughter loves it. When my son asked her why she loves it so much, she replied:

“Because she’s such a tomboy! Her mama wants her to be a proper little lady, but she’d rather play rough with her brothers.”

Her smile stretched from ear to ear.

My son followed with a quick question. “What’s a tomboy?”

Without thinking, I answered him. “A tomboy is a girl who acts a lot like a boy.”

It hit me as soon as the words left my mouth. My daughter didn’t think anything of it, nor did my son. They went on their way, got into the car, and were content. I, however, had one thought in my head that rolled over and over again.

That is the most asinine definition I’ve heard, or said, in a long time.

Let’s look at this. A girl who acts like a boy. This is so abnormal, we say, that we have to give them a special name to distinguish them from normal girls.

Shoot me now.

The problem is, this is generally accepted as fact in society today. Maybe it’s becoming more obsolete, but I haven’t seen that sentiment work its way into the day-to-day.

In fact, I see just the opposite. When I stop to think about it, I hear this sentiment regurgitated over and over again. From my daughter’s mouth more often than not.

Certain toys – she wants nothing to do with them because they’re too “boyish”. If my son wants to play with certain things of hers, she’s quick to tell him that he can’t because they’re “girl toys”.

The same thought pattern works its way into colors and just about everything else.

There is a separation. Boys have certain claim on things in this world, girls have claims on other things.

I know, that sounds all nebulous and general, but I think you get the idea.

No, I don’t blame my daughter in the least. It is what she learns from society, probably from me. How is she supposed to know any different?

And it’s not just her. My son used to like to get his nails painted. We, as his parents, took a lot of flack because we were “turning him into a girl”. Boys don’t do that. Not boys from good Christian families at least.

Listen to me now. This is stupid. It’s insane, really.

You may have heard about Target’s decision to remove gender signs from their stores. You probably also heard about the uproar from certain Christian groups against that decision.

I won’t name names. Suffice it to say that they called Target’s decision “Un-Biblical”.

thLet me get this straight. Something that is culturally exclusive has now become Biblical? When did that happen?

These are not Biblical issues. They’re cultural. Culture changes. The Bible does not. Let’s not confuse the two.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that men and women were created differently. There are natural drives in each sex that pulls in different directions. I also believe there are different roles for each.

What color someone likes is not one of them.

Nor is which Lego set to play with, or if a girl wants to play football, soccer, baseball or whatever else she wants to do.

Or if a boy wants to paint his nails or wrestle or dance or body slam someone.

The difference between men and women deal with physiological issues. When it comes to dreams, jobs, games, toys, or most of everything else – no. There is no difference.

Not even in the church. But, I’m sure we’ll have that discussion at another time.

If my daughter wants to be what culture has deemed appropriate for a girl, then that’s what she wants to do.

I will not allow anyone to tell her, should she decide the girly things are not her thing, that she can’t because she’s a girl.

And I won’t let them bash on my son if he decides to be creative and paint his nails.

He can be the rough-and-tumble boy that everyone thinks he should be. Or, he can be a gentle soul who expresses his creativity as he wants.

I’m as guilty as anyone in this. Who thinks about this sort of thing on a day-to-day basis? We just spew what traditional cultural norms have taught us.

However, I will not limit my children. Whatever they put their hearts and minds to be and to do, you better believe it that I will back them up all the way.

And I will pray for you if you decide to stand in the way. You’ll need it.


Wait? What happened to “The Oracle”?

I’ve liked the story so much, that I’ve decided to take it and to polish it into a more proper short story. I’ll let you know how that goes when the time is right.


I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can reach me via my Contact page, or join me on Facebook.

Don’t forget to sign-up for my monthly Newsletter to keep up to date with all that’s going on.


6 thoughts on “Tomboys, Pansies, and Biblical Gender Roles

  1. Great post! Isn’t it amazing what comes out of our mouths and behaviors? We are such cultural beings without even thinking about it. Awareness of our cultural norms and strictures is the first step to broadening them and making more and more room for people to flower into the happy people they should be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Start a Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s