Tomboy, the new exhibition opening Friday at the Providence Public Library, provides an overdue cultural examination of this singular way of being female in the world. There is no male counterpart.
Appearing first in the 1590s, the term “tomboy” was defined as a “wild, romping girl, who acts like a spirited boy”; or “strumpet, bold and immodest woman”.* This exhibition interrogates the history of cultural expectations and gender norms for girls & women, especially in the interplay between lifestyle, aesthetic, play and self-identity. It looks at historical shifts in definitions of femininity and gender to understand how tomboys have challenged cultural norms to have a dynamic influence on fashion, literature, sports and popular culture.
The library invites visitors “to ask themselves about the relevance of the tomboy today. How have various societies and cultures defined femininity? Does the term ‘tomboy’ hold meaning currently? As society has developed a more nuanced understanding of femininity, is it a term that holds continued relevance?”
Tomboy runs through June 30. The site is fun to scroll through.
April 1st is also 401 Gives Day — go here to donate to the library.
Opens Friday, April 1, PPL, 3rd floor, 105 Empire Street, (directions)