A “female bloke” is a slang term used to describe a woman who exhibits traditionally masculine traits and behaviors. The term originated in Britain but has spread to other English-speaking countries over time. At its core, it refers to women who defy typical gender stereotypes and embrace interests, clothing styles, career paths and personalities more commonly associated with men.
While the term can sometimes be used in a derogatory way, many women who identify as “female blokes” wear the label proudly. They see it as a way to acknowledge their rejection of narrowly defined gender roles. However, the terminology also raises complex questions about gender identity, sexism and social expectations.
What are the characteristics of a “female bloke”?
There is no strict definition, but some common traits associated with a “female bloke” include:
- Dressing in traditionally masculine clothing like button-down shirts, trousers, sports jerseys, etc.
- Having short hair or a masculine hairstyle
- Lacking interest in feminine hobbies like shopping, makeup or celebrity gossip
- Enjoying sports, drinking beer, cars and other male-dominated pastimes
- Exhibiting assertive, outspoken personality traits
- Pursuing a career in business, science, law enforcement or other male-dominated fields
- Using blunt, direct communication styles
- Having mostly male friends and social circles
- Rejecting traditional gender roles related to dating, family and domestic duties
Of course, very few women fully conform to all these stereotypes. Most “female blokes” simply gravitate toward traditionally masculine interests and modes of self-expression. They are not trying to literally become men.
What causes a woman to identify as a “female bloke”?
There are a few factors that can lead to a woman embracing the “female bloke” label:
- Innate personality and interests – Some women just naturally connect more with stereotypical masculine pursuits.
- Upbringing – A non-traditional family or lack of female role models can contribute.
- Rebellion – For some women, the label allows them to deliberately challenge gender stereotypes they disagree with.
- Sexuality – There is a degree of overlap between “female blokes” and lesbians or bisexual women, though they are not synonymous.
- Positive reinforcement – If a woman receives support and praise for excelling in male-dominated activities, she may feel encouraged to pursue that path.
- Career advancement – Adopting masculine traits can help women be taken more seriously in some male-dominated workplaces.
So in many cases, women may find the “female bloke” role rewarding and feel it is more authentic to their true selves. However, societal expectations of femininity also play a part inmarginalizing these gender non-conforming women.
How do other people perceive “female blokes”?
Reactions tend to be mixed. Some people appreciate and admire women who push gender boundaries. Others feel threatened, judgemental or downright hostile toward the concept of a “female bloke.”
Some of the more positive views include:
- They are pioneering women who pave the way for more egalitarian gender roles.
- They are confident women embracing their true selves.
- They bring a refreshing perspective by defying expectations.
- They provide inspirational role models for gender non-conforming girls.
- They symbolize empowerment and the ability to define one’s own identity.
From this viewpoint, “female blokes” make society more inclusive and diverse. Their gender non-conformity should be celebrated.
More negative responses include:
- They are trying to be something they are not – real men.
- They demonstrate failed femininity and womanhood.
- Their behavior and appearance are unnatural or unhealthy.
- They make people uncomfortable by clouding gender boundaries.
- They symbolize the erosion of traditional family values and roles.
Here, disapproval stems from belief in strict, binary gender categories. “Female blokes” are seen as threatening this worldview.
Some people have mixed or uncertain reactions:
- It’s OK for girls to have masculine interests, but they should still look and act like ladies.
- Being a “female bloke” is probably just a rebellious phase that young women eventually grow out of.
- Women should be able to pursue any career, but need to retain their femininity.
- Society still isn’t ready for women who so openly defy gender norms.
This viewpoint sympathizes to some degree with the feminine versus masculine identity struggle, but still espouses conventional norms.
So opinions remain widely split within society on whether “female blokes” represent progress or problems regarding gender roles. Their reception largely depends on how threatening people find their non-conformity. But the very existence of the term speaks to the persistent tensions between expanding concepts of womanhood and lingering stereotypes.
Pros and cons of the “female bloke” identity
For the women who adopt it, there are both advantages and drawbacks to embracing the “female bloke” persona.
- Freedom to pursue interests and careers without restraint based on gender
- More comfortable self-expression that matches their authentic personality and temperament
- Ability to bond platonically with male peers who share their interests
- Not being confined by societal appearance and behavior standards
- Increased independence and resilience from defying stereotypes
Essentially, it allows them to live in a way that feels right for them as individuals.
- Derision, discrimination or romantic rejection from people uncomfortable with their gender non-conformity
- Family or relationship tensions from defying traditional roles
- Difficulty fitting into female social circles and bonding with other women
- Sexual harassment or having to prove themselves in male-dominated environments
- Struggles with own gender identity and societal expectations of womanhood
There are still penalties within society for defying established gender norms that can adversely impact “female blokes.”
Many women find that the pros ultimately outweigh the cons. But others struggle to find a balance that allows them to maintain their female identity amidst stereotypical masculine traits and behaviors. There are also concerns that the “female bloke” label marginalizes femininity and reinforces the gender binary. So like any identity, there are complex nuances to navigate.
The history of the term “female bloke”
The term has its origins in post-war Britain of the 1950s and 60s. As gender roles shifted with more women entering the workforce, the idea of a “female bloke” first emerged. It captured women who seemed to adopt the ruggedness, directness and camaraderie previously associated with male peers.
During this era, “female blokes” had key identifiers like:
- Wearing trousers, leather jackets, jeans rather than skirts and dresses
- Working in manual labor or masculine professions like mechanics
- Socializing in pubs previously reserved for men
- Riding motorbikes and eschewing traditional notions of femininity
Women who date other women were also sometimes described as “female blokes.” The label conveyed disregard for conventional gender and sexuality.
By the 70s and 80s, second wave feminism opened more options for women. In this context, “female blokes” came to represent:
- Androgynous celebrities like Annie Lennox who sported short hair and suits
- Women gaining ground in professions like law, medicine and politics
- Female characters on TV and in movies who showed masculine traits
- Athletic women participating in previously male-only sports
During this era, the term highlighted women embracing empowerment through masculinity.
From the 90s forward, the term has remained part of British slang and cultural shorthand for women exhibiting masculine characteristics. Traits of a modern-day “female bloke” include:
- Downplaying feminine features with understated clothing and makeup
- Displaying an outspoken, assertive personal style
- Pursuing stem fields, law enforcement, firefighting and other male-dominated careers
- Engaging in “blokey” banter around topics like sports, drinking and politics previously deemed masculine
The “female bloke” identity persists in symbolizing gender role rebellion and expansive notions of womanhood. But it also now sparks more debate over its implications amid shifting language about gender and identity.
The term “female bloke” has a complex evolution and reception within English-speaking cultures. For some women, embracing masculine traits provides liberating self-expression and opportunities. They proudly claim the term in defiance of gender stereotypes. But others view it as derogatory, misguided or even threatening. Identity labels almost inevitably spark debate.
At its core, “female bloke” highlights the vast diversity of human personality that often strain against narrow gender expectations. Women, like anyone, should feel free to explore their own authentic selves. But this must be balanced with sensitivity about implications for gender-nonconforming people and recognition that identities are complex, personal and ever-evolving. The meaning and impact of the term will likely continue sparking discussion as society’s relationship with gender norms also keeps changing.