I grew up in my big brothers’ hand-me-downs, and had short hair until I was older. I spent a significant amount of time with my brothers, but I am not a tomboy. I always get the same reaction in divulging the existence of my two elder brothers: “That makes so much sense.” Following this reaction is an explanation that my sense of humour, assertiveness, span of interests, and general demeanor is “boyish.”
I personally attribute many of these qualities as learned from my mother. My mom left home when she was 17, putting herself through college, finding a career, and starting a family. She got divorced, subsequently starting over as a single mom. She was often forced to rely solely on herself in a largely patriarchal society. She raised me to be capable of the same.
Despite what some call “boyish” qualities, my mother and I shared something apart from the boys. We took “girl time,” went on our own adventures, and talked about issues we could not discuss with the boys. As much as these are meaningful, deeply personal experiences for me, I also understand how Feminism through Practice and Poststructuralist theorists can explain our roles as “strong women” with “boyish” qualities alongside our exclusively “female” experiences together.
Feminist Theory highlights our experiences as gendered. Although this theory can be unpacked further, suffice it to say that the social hierarchy of male dominance has impacted both my mother and myself to exhibit “boyish” behaviour in the public sphere, and to look down upon hyper-”female” behaviour. Insofar as Practice Theory notes there is a difference between what we say we do and what we actually do, the way we act in public does not always carry over to our private “mother-daughter” endeavours. Practice Theorists such as Lila Abu-Lughod would distinguish our performances of boyishness as agency to retain some authority and validity within a patriarchal hegemony, as distinct from our “girlish” alliance in private.
Poststructuralism would deconstruct these mother-daughter outings as a form of resistance through discourse. Poststructuralism highlights political, economic, and social structures as enforcers of power. Social structures and discourses are observable through verbal and nonverbal means. My brothers and father never actively seized power over us, and often our “performance” of boyishness left us with some matriarchal clout. Despite this, I found myself confronted with extra rules and earlier curfews than my brothers. Although my mother confronted my father if she vehemently disagreed with his reasoning, she allowed many unequal regulations because I was “her little girl.” Poststructuralism highlights that this discourse is nonetheless consenting to the system of power.
The final aspect of Poststructuralism worthy of discussing is the idea of truth and how it unfolds under systems of power. I suspect that it is due to social assumptions of patriarchy in western American society that my mother is not the assumed inceptive force of my independent demeanor, diverse interests, and wacky sense of humour. Instead, I propose that my society’s chosen truth runs patrilineally, and therefore my brothers must give me my “boyish” characteristics rather than my mom.
 Lecture, Professor Carole McGranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 07 October 2015.
 Abu-Lughod, Lila, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. University of California Press: 1986, p. 30
 http://anthrotheory.pbworks.com/w/page/29532663/Poststructuralism, accessed 09 November 2015.
 Lecture, Professor Carole McGranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 12 October 2015.
 Lecture, Professor Carole McGranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 11 November 2015.