Confidence Culture’s Effect on Women’s History


Photo courtesy of Insight into Diversity TM.

Josalin Sutton, Opinions

Women’s History Month is a month dedicated to celebrating the contributions and successes of women in America. The month of March is set aside to honor and acknowledge the wonderful impacts women have had in our country. This began with a week-long celebration of women’s contributions to our culture and society. It was held by the school district of Sonoma, California in 1978. Many schools around the country started hosting their own celebrations, and because of its popularity in 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the week of March 8th to be National Women’s History Week. This was later petitioned and approved to expand to the whole month. We now have many organizations and groups dedicated to this month, the greatest of all being the National Women’s History Alliance. The NWHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Women’s History. 

Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance elects a theme for the month. The theme for Women’s history month 2022 is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. Our society’s image of women and their impact is very important. This month is supposed to empower and strengthen those around us, as well as bring to light the success of those in our past. But as the years go by it feels as if the way we empower our women is actually just degrading them. “Healing” and “hope” are the virtues of 2022, but how are we applying this in our lives or on our social media platforms? It doesn’t feel as if these are the things being told to women. Instead, we can see this pull towards a “confidence culture” that has grown over the past few years. 

Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill wrote a book about this called “Confidence Culture” saying how it is very destructive to how women see themselves and how they feel they should be. Our society has started to realize that confidence is cool, and it has become an “empowering” movement. But though its empowering it is teaching lessons that are best left untaught. This push towards confidence has led to this feeling of need for it in our lives. Social media is telling us we need to be confident in our bodies, our relationships, our workplace, and our families. They are saying it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like just be confident. In this way, it puts everyone in the same box eliminating individuality and defeating the whole purpose of confidence in the first place. This culture has hurt how our country views Women’s History Month. It has diminished and belittled the true meaning and importance it was created to attain. Teaching women that confidence is all that matters, through this viewpoint.

However, Women’s History Month is meant to acknowledge and honor the contributions of women to our society, throughout history and continuing today.