Hey Little Tomboy

I love Beach Boys music so much & listen to it so little… I thought, hey, I’ll put an album on…

In that lush, complicated, 5-part harmony w/ soaring falsetto in the background, they sing “Hey, little tomboy, it’s time to turn into a girl.”


To be fair, I knew what I was getting into when I put the Beach Boys album on. I knew the song, “Hey Little Tomboy,” was coming up, and the lyrics are incredibly cringy and toxic.

But… they sound so pretty… I thought I could handle it…

Note to all musicians out there: please sound like the Beach Boys but with non-toxic, non-sexist lyrics. They don’t have to be good lyrics… just not actively hostile to women being people instead of, you know, car-like objects that exist for men’s enjoyment.

What gets me so much about sexist Beach Boys lyrics — and especially “Hey Little Tomboy” — is that I spent most of high school trying to write song lyrics that would impress Brian Wilson, dreaming that I’d send him those lyrics, and then… we’d just be friends.

Now, I had no clue how to write song lyrics, and I never succeeded at writing anything to send Brian Wilson. But listening to his music made me feel understood, and like even though I was neuro-divergent and had no clue how to interact with people my age, I wasn’t alone.

Yes, I listened to the lyrics of songs like “Hey Little Tomboy” back then, but I wrote them off as funny. I didn’t think they applied to me. They were about Other Girls.

A lot of girls go through that phase when young to protect themselves from the rampant sexism of the world.

But I can’t push the sexism aside anymore. I haven’t been able to since Clinton had the election stolen from her in 2016. (She won the popular vote.) And yes, Harris becoming VP yesterday helped. But it didn’t heal the wound. It just stopped some of the twisting of the knife.

Bringing this back to “Hey Little Tomboy,” I can’t pretend anymore that the Beach Boys didn’t mean me.

I was a tomboy. And they would have wanted to change me. They wouldn’t have seen me for the person I am — someone who still wears baggy clothes, t-shirts, and baseball caps.

The Beach Boys wouldn’t have seen the brilliant sci-fi writer, who has finally figured out how to write song lyrics.

They would have seen “a girl.” And a defective one who needed to put on lipstick and makeup. Yuck.

Do you know how crushing that is? Some of you do.

Music makes my brain work better. Music makes life more okay. Music is the backbone of my survival.

And because of sexism, I feel like I have to walk through the world, trying to ignore the gaping hole where the music I still love is taunting me with how it sees me.

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