Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Contemporary Tomboy: breaking the binds of heteronormativity

The article "Little Butches: Tomboys in Hollywood Film" discusses the way the role of the tomboy in Hollywood movies (and its relation to femininity) has changed. While the tomboy is character to almost always undergo a transformation of sorts, it has typically been a transformation towards heternormativity.  This is particularly seen in the “postwar tomboy” who exhibits the fact that “gender is not a product of clothing and hair style alone but is predicated on a set of behaviors that bolsters a system of male dominance and females submission” (79).  In other words the postwar tomboy did not complete her transformation to a more feminine subject by simply changing her appearance, she also had to augment her behavior so that she better fits the heteronormative model that puts men in power.

Hatch then goes on to discuss the ways the role of the tomboy has continued to change since the conforming postwar tomboy.  She cites two movies, Bad News Bears and Little Darlings, as examples of the modern tomboy. Both of these movies present a tomboy character that undergoes a transformation that moves her away from the model discussed above.

An additional contemporary example of this new tomboy can be found in Suzanne Collins best-selling Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss Everdeen, the main character of the series, presents as a strong woman who specifically works against the oppressive forces in her life, all of which are led by men.  Her character not only presents as a physical tomboy (particularly seen in her preference for a simple outfit and understated braid than a formal gown and makeup), Katniss also represents a strong female character that moves beyond the heteronormative model.  While she is a heterosexual character, she finds her true strength only when she abandons the highly feminized persona that has been forced on her by others. Like Amanda in Bad News Bears, Katniss moves from bring a more feminine (and submissive) girl to someone who is empowered and fiercely independent.  Suzanne Collins has created an admirable tomboy character whose power will be further carried out as the books are made into films, the first being released in spring of 2012.

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