And, in this, the writers are consistent with the research literature. That is, a gender expression among girls that has been labeled as tomboy has been unhitched from any particular sexuality. Across many gender-related activities and personality characteristics, relatively few decisively discriminate homoerotic from heteroerotic girls either when they are children or adolescents. The ones that do are more often a matter of degree e. The best gender atypical predictors of female homosexuality are cross-dressing and having a cross-gender reputation as a tomboy.
Early research Bell and associates, illustrated these mixed results. However, only slightly more than half of the heterosexual women recalled these girl-typical activities and just one third of lesbians reported extreme versions of masculine behavior during their childhood.
For activities deemed neither masculine nor feminine e. Similarly, on childhood personality characteristics, sexual orientation effects were even more meager, though lesbians were slightly more likely to recall being dominant and independent girls. Since the s, research has continued to support these somewhat weak findings. In a study of 4-toyear old girls identified by their parents as tomboys, based on observations, child reports, and parent reports, tomboy girls were more similar to their brothers than to their sisters in their play, toy, and activity preferences but they were less masculine than their brother Bailey et al.
Although tomboys did not differ from non-tomboys in liking feminine activities, they had greater interest in masculine activities. In part, this is consistent with a study comparing gender conformity and nonconformity among preschool children.
Gender-atypical 4-year old girls were less likely than gender-typical girls to play with girls and more likely to play with boys, yet in their masculine versus feminine play activities the two did not differ Martin et al. Based on childhood home videos, correlations between observed child gender atypical behavior and later gender expressions was considerably lower among young adult lesbians than gay men Rieger et al.
I might add that it is more the addition of masculinity rather than a deletion of femininity that distinguishes tomboy from non-tomboy girls. And, this pattern characterizes not only lesbian but also many straight, bisexual, and other nonexclusive girls. Why is this the case? Who are tomboys and why should we study them? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31, Its development in men and women.
Congruence between gender stereotypes and activity preference in self-identified tomboys and non-tomboys. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, — Preschool children with gender normative and gender non-normative peer preferences: Psychosocial and environmental correlates. Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology, 44,