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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Power Grid

10 Token Tomboys


Allow Us To Explain...

Allow Us To Explain...

So, you’re adapting a story for a new medium and you notice that everybody is pretty… male. Or, perhaps there’s the one girl, dressed in a pink skirt, dating the leader guy and getting captured a lot. It occurs to you that the six or seven male characters you have run a range of different personalities, and it wouldn’t be fair to only give girls one kind of character to look up to. So you add a tomboy.

Or maybe someone asks you to add more female characters for representation’s sake. So you add a tomboy. Or maybe there were no girls at all. So you add a tomboy.

Here are some characters added for the sake of diversity. (And we’re sure glad they were!)


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  • http://twitter.com/caitelsa Caitlind Oteiza

    Love love love this one! Hawkgirl from Justice League never gets enough attention in my opinion. These are all strong female characters.

  • http://twitter.com/MickieMous MickieMousseau

    I’ve got a few more to add to this list: Black Cannary, Catwoman, and Supergirl. The first strong women characters I encountered as a child, although I have to admit even then I had no patience with Catwoman trying to suck up to Batman.

  • blissfulslavery

    I humbly submit Lil from Rugrats as an obvious (to me) omission.

    Also, I was always a Trini girl, but they never had the yellow costume out for Halloween so I had to go as Kimberly one year. I was super embarrassed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UM7IGIRQYJPGKFWNN4HCSKTPYI Ann Aizon

    I definitely second Lil, but also, where’s Kara Thrace? Gorgeous as Katee Sackhoff may be, she was a full-on tough chick on BSG. That seems like one of the most obvious to include.

    I went through an anti-pink stage when Power Rangers came to America, so I loved Yellow Ranger. That Trini was a kickass Asian was only a bonus for me who never had cool Asian characters to look up to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emma-Jones/1539134495 Emma Jones

    Three ladies are missing.

    Rogue, in the original comic books and the 90s cartoon series. She was such a badass, and one of my female role models as a child. Not only can she fly and has human strength (sorry Ms. Marvel), but she could steal even more powers if she wanted to. She has this great, three-dimensional personality, too. Not to mention, she’s such a southern girl, and not in the bad way.

    Eowyn is way more of a tomboy than Arwen. I love it when she kills the witch-king, and basically sticks it to everyone for ever doubting her. Yeah, Arwen is pretty cool, but she isn’t even nearly competition with Eowyn.

    Chun-Li is arguably one of the better characters in Street Fighter. Look at those legs! How could she not be? She’s got speed and power. I’m not very good at Street Fighter, I’ll admit it, but I can beat my fiance with her… and he spends way too much time playing that game, anyway.

    Bonus: Sheik is pretty damn bad ass, as is Midna.

  • 42BabelFish

    Eliza Maza from “Gargoyles” and, of course, Bat Girl. I’d also add Petra Arkanian, except I doubt the Ender’s Game/Bean series is widely recognizable, no matter what the intended demographic of this site. Still, she’s awesome.

  • Lisa

    Speaking of Elizas and Nickelodeon… I’m just gonna throw Eliza Thornberry out there just for fun… Also, I’d like to suggest Storm from Xmen as well.

  • Lisa

    Actually JK… Storm isn’t so much of a tomboy… For some reason I was mixing up tomboy with badass. I mix those two words up often for obvious reasons lol.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/aprotim Aprotim

    What about Gadget from Rescue Rangers?

  • http://twitter.com/tommyxtopher Tommy Christopher

    Kirk is a genius. Try getting away with that “mind control” excuse now.

  • http://twitter.com/leahdorin ldg

    I don’t know about the rest of the list, but I actually sort of take offense to Lola Bunny being categorized as a tomboy when she really couldn’t be less of one; she’s a total Mary Sue. Playing a sport doesn’t make someone a tomboy. She played the same role that Jessica Rabbit did, only viewed by other characters and the audience in relation to her sexuality and appearance with the overblown cartoon jaw-dropping etc responses. Even her ability to play basketball wasn’t viewed as an empowering talent but rather just as a sexy sort of fantasy. Being a tomboy is about much more than just playing sports; I think it has to do a lot with a lack of overt feminine sexuality – and since Lola has this in spades, I really think that classifying her as a tomboy is really doing tomboys everywhere somewhat of an injustice.
    (And yeah, I realize she’s a cartoon character. ‘Take offense’ might be a strong term, I just wanted to point this out…)

  • budabul

    Nice list, but what about Cheetara from the Thundercats?!

  • http://twitter.com/JBod Justin

    Seriously… no Starbuck!? I’m late to the BS:G party, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t badder asses out there then Kara Thrace, man or woman.

  • JP

    One glaring omission: Rogue!

  • http://twitter.com/yaboiksar Nicole Hazen

    +1

  • Molokai

    Arcee has been promoted! She wound up on a shirt at Hot Topic (I know, not much of an honor, but its something!), and she had a figure recently in the States! I know it was released in the line of Transformers toys at WalMart. She was a pink Buell Lightning motorcycle, just like in the second film.

  • Deremna

    I (third?) Rogue. I appreciate the rather sad arc of her story and the fact that her power of absorbtion is as effed up as it is useful. She has the whole Southern belle charm of Sookie Stackhouse without some of the girliness that gets in the way of Sookie being a favorite of mine. (whiiiiiine.. I have super hot dudes after me all the time.. boo hoo hoooo) And I also don’t like being touched. If only I had her power to justify it.

    Pam from the (speaking of!) Sookie Stackhouse series. Books or show, I don’t care, Pam is just freaking awesome. She has the whole girly I-dress-better-than-you-omg-you-made-me-mess-up-my-shoes thing going on but then she’s all sarcastic and I’ll-tear-your-throat-out ruthless. And she just generally could care less what anyone thinks about her. And I like that.

    Gaz from Invader Zim. She’s pretty much a kid version of me (which makes me biased). She plays video games probably too much and she’s pissed off 99% of the time. Not like me, she has a brother who she is constantly berating and yet she still comes to his rescue when he screws up.

  • Deremna

    Also, I don’t know how I could’ve left her out, but Lisbeth Salander from “The Girl….” series. She *spoilers* freaking lit her dad on fire for being a douche and later hit him in the head with an axe, is a master hacker with a photographic memory, survived being shot in the head, blackmails her rapist, steals millions of dollars from a corrupt businessman.. Etc. She’s just.. awesome. I have a huge girl crush, is it obvious?

    I would also like to nominate my two Disney princesses because I just got back from Disneyland: Belle and Tiana. They’re both smart and not particularly girly. They both pretty much have to get their princes to stop being douches if they want to get their human bodies back. Both of their stories start with them trying to help their fathers, whether it’s saving him from his captor or living out his dream.

  • ruolbu

    When you write “or that he was pretty explicit in his taste for the S in BDSM.” which S do you mean?
    I know there is only one in the acronym but it got several meanings: (attention, just lazily copy pasting wiki here)
    The compound acronym, BDSM, is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&s), sadism and masochism (S&M)
    Well and sadism and submission are two different things ;)

    In any case, I could just google my answer. So the truth is, I just wanted to point this out ;)

  • Velcro Kitty

    Am I the only one who finds the term “tomboy” to be offensive and outdated? It’s 2011, do we really need this kind of slanted gender definition? “Tomboy” always comes across as a type of slur — see, these aren’t *real* girls, they’re tomboys, we have to call them out separately because they’re so “weird.” Worse, it’s a term that defines women by *men* and by stereotypical *male* traits. When a woman is adventurous, physical, assertive, or simply interested in something other than dresses and makeup, she’s suddenly the tomboy. Why can’t she just be, call me crazy, a woman? Just one type of woman, among the many many types of woman? Are we really so stuck with an antiquated, narrow definition of the feminine that any woman venturing a toe outside of doll-like has to be a tomboy? Disappointed that The Mary Sue is off to such a stale start.

  • Elle

    Excellent additions!

  • Elle

    Agreed. And Rogue = awesomeness

  • Elle

    I understand the offense you take at the word, and I agree with it being outdated; but, being called “token” is much more offensive than being called a tomboy. However, in the context of this article, I believe that is the point. The point of the “10 Token Tomboys” is to highlight how one stereotypical/token female character was created to balance another stereotypical/token female character. The very creation of such characters, in themselves, is offensive; but, the article highlights how without them, women and young girls would’ve had no diversity in female representation.

    Most of the characters listed on here are not really “tomboys” in the stereotypical sense. As Idg said, Lola Bunny is in no way representative of what women who do call themselves tomboys identify with – she is Jessica Rabbit as an actual rabbit. However, those listed, and the additional suggested examples, did all begin as “token” characters – whatever their importance to the current geekgirl culture.

  • Elle

    I understand the offense you take at the word, and I agree with it being outdated; but, being called “token” is much more offensive than being called a tomboy. However, in the context of this article, I believe that is the point. The point of the “10 Token Tomboys” is to highlight how one stereotypical/token female character was created to balance another stereotypical/token female character. The very creation of such characters, in themselves, is offensive; but, the article highlights how without them, women and young girls would’ve had no diversity in female representation.

    Most of the characters listed on here are not really “tomboys” in the stereotypical sense. As Idg said, Lola Bunny is in no way representative of what women who do call themselves tomboys identify with – she is Jessica Rabbit as an actual rabbit. However, those listed, and the additional suggested examples, did all begin as “token” characters – whatever their importance to the current geekgirl culture.

  • Sparklynn

    I thought that most of these female characters were too “token”-y to be interesting.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FYMRVDDGIWTD26NKCKEZ7QO2RA Christine

    Actually, Arcee first appeared in the animated movie, which tanked so fast and hard in the theaters due to unexpected and violent character deaths giving it very bad PR amongst mums with young Transformers fans that many areas never got it. Season 3 of the cartoon was after it.

    You should also know, the writer for the UK comic hated her and only did the story because he was obligated to do what Hasbro wanted, which was to showcase the new characters. He was of the ‘genderless’ POV (tho later he claimed that one of the male TFs was gay – can’t have ‘gay’ without gender differentiation!) and later on in the Arcee Spotlight comic from IDW made her a male who was forcibly surgically transformed into a female…and a psychotic bitch at that.

    I enjoyed the list, tho, especially Uhura’s entry. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  • SkullcrusherMaggie

    The Nostalgia Critic said it best: bunny boobies

  • Constance

    Does anyone else have a problem with the term “tomboy”. It kinda suggests that we’re doing something wrong.

  • Constance

    Thank you! I just asked this same question before actually scrolling down and reading the comments.

  • http://twitter.com/Kitsgeekychick Akemi Oyanedel

    I just got into this article and I disagree with the Arwen character. She in the book is just a princess in the thoughts and dreams of the Ranger and in the movie she was mixed with another elf character that was not that important, so the parts where Arwen is a warrior and kickass chick, that was the other character in the book, so IMHO, shouldn’t count.

  • FlameingFlyingFish

    Growing up on that Justice League cartoon, I always thought Hawkman was the “sidekick”, one of the reasons I loved Hawkgirl. It has always bothered me that the leading female superheroes are following in male superheroes’ footsteps, always taking up their symbols and costumes instead of making their own. When it came to this version of Hawkgirl and Hawkman, the girl came along first.

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    …how exactly are you defining “tomboy?” Because MAYBE except for Skeeter, and as you point out, she’s wearing ruffles, this bunch is all pretty damn girly.

  • Anonymous

    Angie and Zoey from Pokemon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mynameishui Stella Hui

    In elementary school, I played “Power Rangers” during recess with the boys from class. Even though I was the only girl in the group, they would never let me be the Pink Ranger… because I’m Asian. But now that I think about it, Trini was way cooler than Kimberly, even if her character rarely had any impact on the story. (Kind of like Zack, the Black Ranger. Real subtle there, Saban Entertainment.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/damian.mccright Damian McCright

    Well Lola is a TOTAL Looney Toon in this updated Looney Toons Show that comes on Cartoon Network.

  • Stephanie Stephens

    I love this because I have always considered myself a tomboy. Trini in power Rangers was awesome enough to overlook the whole omg-yellow-ranger-is-asian thing,(so sad when she died;() I loved being Yellow when all my friends wanted to be pink. I agree with Idg on the Lola Bunny thing. There are so many great tomgirl characters, but I think this list is about “token” characters that were added intentionally to fill that role. That’s why Eowyn is not here, because she WAS a tomboy in the books and Arwen’s role was expanded and adapted. But yes, we are glad that they are there even as an afterthought to fill in a quota or whatever because then we have someone to identify with.