The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Not like other girls

Do you want to have evidence of the failure of 2nd and 3rd wave feminism? It’s here.

(Image: Dmitry Schemelev/

Not like other girls.

I wasn’t a so-called “tomboy” as a girl, and as I’ve written before, growing up in the 1960s-70s – well, the so-called “gender divide” wasn’t actually that wide for kids. I just don’t recall a whole lot of pink or sparkly stuff in anyone’s childhood back then. As I’ve said before, my main memory is of brown-backgrounded plaids, turtlenecks, and bikes.

I was also raised an only child in an academic household. Not hippie liberal, but, at least at the beginning, solid Kennedy Democrats (who, like many, as time went on, transitioned into Reagan democrats and who know what they’d be now if they were alive, which they haven’t been, for a while.) who raised me mostly to be able to articulate my opinions and live a life of the mind. My mother would have termed herself an old-school feminist: think Amelia Earhart and Rosalind Russell. But, then, that’s a repeat.

But growing up, what’s also true is that when it came to feelings of “fitting in” – while I did have close female friends and a female bestie at every stage – in terms of groups – group talk, group thinking, group interests – I never did fit in with the girls. I was always more comfortable with the boys. I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, and I think much of it has to do with the ways girls are socialized, which perhaps reflects most girl’s instinctive interests. I don’t want to dive too deeply into this, but to consider, reflect on the traditional boys’ and girls’ toys – girls’ toys tend to be related to life in the home and boys’ toys tend to be related to life outside the home.

And so it was with conversation and the wisecracks that’s a part of pre-teen and teen life in school. I wasn’t interested in talking about boyfriends or clothes or makeup (not that that was much of a thing in the Seventies) or social life. But the boys? The boys I hung out with – most of us worked on the school newspaper, and that was our main hang-out time – talked politics and issues – probably not very intelligently, and no, this was no Agora and who knows what they talked about when I wasn’t around – it was probably disgusting – but honestly, it was all just so more interesting with the boys than it was with the girls. An argument, in a way, for single-sex schools, where no doubt, if I’d worked on the school newspaper, I would have been with like-minded young women who were deep into arguing about the ERA and Jimmy Carter, too.

And I had short hair!

Gee. Was I trans?

This is a big topic of conversation in gender critical circles. Women my age down to the mid-20s musing how as girls we didn’t feel “like other girls” and never felt quite a part of intensive Girl World Life – maybe even excluded. For various reasons, of course. Some, like me just had no interest in what the girls in our lives were fixated on – others were “tomboys,” others athletic, others bullied by Mean Girls, and so on.

What would culture say about us today? What would we be pressured to feel and do?

Because, guess what? It wasn’t great. Yes, I did feel left out. Yes, I was resentful at times. Yes, I did wonder if there was something “off” about me as a female. I didn’t wish to be other than what I was, though. I was content with my interests. But still. In that context – small Catholic high school of mostly white Catholics in the South in the Seventies – I didn’t feel completely comfortable.

But did anyone? Does anyone who’s 15 feel at ease, comfortable and “themselves?”

It seems that of late, the most popular way of signaling I’m not like other girls is to declare oneself non-binary. Every day a new celebrity takes to Instagram to change pronouns. The latest, today, is Emma Corin, a British actress who plays Princess Diana in The Crown. (I don’t watch it, sorry.)

A couple of days ago, she posted an image of herself in a makeshift binder, but in the text, tags a company that makes binders – an account with almost 200K followers.

What’s a binder? It’s a wrap to compress breasts. To nothing, preferably.

“Designed with the true you in mind.”

It’s more than a bit ironic that Corin plays Diana, who lived her adult life in a subculture of high intensity and expectations, some of which was related to her sex. It’s almost a natural progression.

I saw this on Twitter the other day, and though it was apt:

Not like other girls.

So many of us have felt this. In the present moment, it’s a feeling that’s deepened and exacerbated by a culture in which the value of the individual is tied to appearance, and for females, the value of that appearance is linked to implied sexual interest and availability, and all of it – every bit of it – is woven through with pornography.

Who wouldn’t want to check out of that culture and what it demands and expects of females, especially young females?

Who wouldn’t want to say – no, not me. I’m not like that. Not like other girls. Let me the heck out.

Which is really, in this context, a cry from a sea filled with the drowning.

So, I will run with this internalized misogyny – for that’s what it is, full stop – to the nearest “gender-affirming” clinic that will suppress my estrogen, give me testosterone instead, I’ll research mastectomies and hysterectomies and set up a Go Fund Me for it all.

But even if I don’t want to go that far, I’ll still want the world to know that no, I’m not like other girls, so I will ….cut my hair (cut my hair? Really?) and then maybe I will wrap my breasts tightly – so tightly I’m at risk of hurting my lungs – and press, press, press down so that these things on my chest – these things that apparently stand between me and being treated as just – a person – will be gone. Just gone.

Do you want to have evidence of the failure of 2nd and 3rd wave feminism? This. That this – young women by the thousands in the West seeking to suppress and amputate the visible signs of their sex, and saying I’m not a “she” anymore …Just “they.” I’m “they” – not “she” – please not “she” – isn’t seen as the crisis that it is.

(Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on the “Charlotte was Both” blog and is reposted here with kind permission of the author.)

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About Amy Welborn 26 Articles
Amy Welborn is the author of over twenty books on Catholic spirituality and practice, and has written extensively on gender issues at her blog, Charlotte was Both.


  1. It’s ironic, women had now been freed from constricting corsets & having healthy body parts removed under psychological premises. Now they have constricting “binders” & additional healthy body parts removed under the same misconceptions.
    Plus ca change…

  2. Excellent article. Growing up in the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s, I witnessed the “molding” of male/female definitions. Men were to be providers, women were to be stay at home mothers. Woman were subservient to men. But I saw the talents women had, and how society suppressed it. It was quite disheartening. But, I honestly feel that a woman should not suppress her physical features. She need not allow society to influence her that strongly, but to be herself always.

    • Same here; graduated from high school in 1951. Either I was oblivious or just had good friends. Outside of my one sister, I was never looked at as not a girl. She wore the dresses. My dad said even when I was little if you couldn’t find me to look in a tree. I was a tomboy. During the second war years, there was little traffic. We played baseball, boys and girls from the neighborhood, on the street corners. Played lots of games in the street. Swung swing over the bars both sitting and standing. Got in trouble for climbing, with a cousin, a water towel at a water works in Chicago. Had a lot of fun. Great friends in an all girl’s small high school. By then I was tamer. Actually wore dresses. Married young, as was common back then. Have five kids. No regrets to any of this. Have to add a funny: Could be the raised I was raised. While at my in laws for a short stay between homes, my father in law made me real mad. My husband came in then, just home from work. My father in law said, “Jr. do something with your wife.” He said, “I can’t. She’s South side Chicago Irish.

  3. I also was the same way. Grew up the oldest with 3 brothers and a much more girly sister. Went to nursery school in cowboy hat and gun. Wasn’t interested in dresses, or dolls. Loved reading, animals. Thank God there was no trans bs around then. Happily married for 46 years, and only regret was only having two children (didn’t convert to Catholicism until I was 42.)

    I think the thing is nobody takes sex as what it is , a polymorphously perverse part of our fallen nature.
    And to follow Christ we must honor our biological nature and be chaste. Period, end of story.

  4. Seems right on the whole. It’s hard to grow up, and how can anyone grow up when there’s no functional pattern of male and female adulthood to grow into?

    “Misogyny” seems wrong. More like inhumanity, the denial of human nature, which includes male and female nature. That admittedly hits young girls especially hard. They’re responsive to social cues, and the social cues are chaotic and pervaded by crude impulse because there’s no better ideal of the good life.

    I suppose the “probably disgusting” is an aspect of how boys are injured. Young men are innately idealistic. What happens to them when there are no ideals and no standards that make sense?

  5. Good points and ? a glimpse of the groaning of The Spirit that is meant for all , as ‘wisdom ‘ –

    that our bodies are mortal and can weigh us down , as an effect of The Fall in which our First Parents lost the glory of having been created and clothed in light and holiness ; yet the body to be accepted with gratitude as a gift , by taking in His Love and holiness and thus requitting same with all, accepting the sufferings too that are allowed in the body to help bring forth holiness in union with that of The Lord , making reparations for the evils esp. against life that is often seen as a worthless burden to be thrown away .

    Thank God that our times are also blessed with more of the Light of Truth such as in the above .

  6. Every person is unique. No human should believe that he is forced to act a certain way – unless it is a matter of morality.

    I have heard that there are women who prefer having friends who are men because men are more straightforward, and therefore less inclined to what has been called relational aggression (e.g. mean girls). This is a consideration apart from any “tomboy” aspect discussed here.

    There are hormonal and neural reasons for why some women are more comfortable with masculinity and there are men in the same situation with regards to femininity. I have read concerning the topic.

    On the other hand, no male should be put down or be excluded for not being stereotypical: muscular, into women and sports, and extroverted. There is some pressure that I believe that I can discern here.

  7. I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. I was a 90s girl, and due to my social awkwardness that left me with no friends between 3rd and 8th grades and a group of persistent bullies that I had no way to escape, I felt like what I really needed was to change myself to make things bearable. I literally remember wondering if my life would be better if I was a boy, and to that end I chopped off almost all my hair in 4th grade, but I was too uncoordinated to play sports and didn’t care for them anyway, so no one labeled me as a typical tomboy. I was simply an outcast and often got teased mercilessly. If I hadn’t found so much joy in the copious number of books I read all the time, I have a strong suspicion I would have become suicidal.

    But thankfully in high school I got a solid group of friends, worked through my uncomfortable teenage years, started smiling at the people who mistreated me, grew out my hair, and (shockingly enough!) found myself runner-up for Prom Queen despite not being one of the popular kids.

    If I’d been in public school today, I have no doubt I would have been drawn toward LGBT insanity because I was the perfect victim for transgenderism and its promises. I believe those people purposely target children in the formative years when all they want is acceptance, attention and ultimately love. It’s a vulnerable time and we need to be vigilant with our children.

  8. My Mother grew up in the 20/30’s period when the “little boy” look was the style. She had a father and 5 brothers. She followed her older sister’s lead and “flattened the breasts” which unfortunately did that permanently. She married and had 2 children before father died. She made her own clothes and always had to make adjustments in the bust area to accommodate her flat breasts. Another lesson: do not tamper with God-given body

  9. I was and still am a tomboy. But I also know who I am. A wife and mother of four. I’ll wear a dress (if I have to), and I love great hair days. I’ve never felt like a “man trapped in a woman’s body.” I enjoy talking with men more than women because they share my values more often, and my love of sports. So many women today try to be like men while forgetting how to be women. I don’t give a rip about “women’s issues” when I vote, I care about human issues.

    Men who want to be women, now that’s a real problem.

  10. I think it shews an unwholesome disregard for human dignity to equate forcible hysterectomies with those very strongly desired, sometimes to the point of suicidal depression if they are not performed.

    You may hold that the latter are bad because the human will is inherently sinful, but fortunately that is not a factor in our secular laws…yet.

    • I think it shows an unwholesome disregard for human dignity to maim girls or women because they have a mental illness so severe that simple truth – “You are a female” – makes them suicidally depressed. The same holds true for men who think they are women.

      The same also holds true for those who are convinced that they are lacking a limb and therefore want that limb removed.

      If someone is convinced that he is a dog, do you think it ethical to perform whatever surgeries are necessary to make him appear like one?

      It is never wholesome to join people in denying truth.

  11. Same here Amy. I grew up the same time you did, and yes, there was indeed a lot of earthtone plaid and everything else, but their was blue eyeshadow, which just about every girl wore, whether she was esp girly or not. Fortunately, the word “nerd” had arrived, and I grabbed that label, running with it my whole life.

  12. Hmm! Interesting isn’t it how after millennia of suppression of obvious female characteristics by those in power, that just as women get to be free, some have damaging self-perception problems and start imposing deadly restrictions on themselves. How agonizingly sad and futile.

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