In Little Butches: Tomboys in Hollywood Film Kristen Hatch shows how the elements that define the tomboy narrative have changed over time. After reading the article I proceeded to ask my roommate what first came to mind when she heard the word "tomboy narrative." She said, “ when I hear the word tomboy I picture a girl dressed in baggy clothes, who plays sports, and might questions her sexuality.” After reading the article and thinking about my roommates response I was reminded of the movie Bend It Like Beckham.
What is the definition of tomboy anyway? Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as “a girl who behaves in a manner usually considered boyish.” According to dictionary the two main characters in Bend it Like Beckham would be classified as tomboys. Both adolescent girls love soccer, dress comfortably, and their sexuality is questioned by their parents. The girls struggle to rebel against cultural and parental expectations of gender roles which are clearly defined by their mothers. The mothers don't think it is proper for girls to play football and are upset because their daughters are not ‘feminine’. The girls don’t want to cook, wear make-up or sexy underwear. This struggle can be seen in this clip. Hatcher comments on one aspect of the tomboy narrative and states, “these films suggest that social stability is reliant on girls giving up the pleasures of childhood masculinity and assuming a feminine role"(80). I would argue that Bend it Like Beckham challenges this notion because the girls refuse to give up their “childhood masculinity” and quit soccer in order to be accepted and viewed as ‘feminine.’
Jule’s mother also assumes the two girls are in a lesbian relationship. Hatch comments on different films from the 1980's that featured tomboy movie stars. She states how these films were “often identified as lesbian films” (76). I would like to think that Bend it Like Beckham is working to challenge these stereotypes but I’m not entirely convinced. The movie takes a comical approach to addressing homosexuality and at times seems to be enforcing stereotypes. I would be interested to hear what others think!