In Confidence Culture (Duke UP, 2022), Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill argue that imperatives directed at women to “love your body” and “believe in yourself” imply that psychological blocks rather than entrenched social injustices hold women back. Interrogating the prominence of confidence in contemporary discourse about body image, workplace, relationships, motherhood, and international development, Orgad and Gill draw on Foucault’s notion of technologies of self to demonstrate how “confidence culture” demands of women near-constant introspection and vigilance in the service of self-improvement. They argue that while confidence messaging may feel good, it does not address structural and systemic oppression. Rather, confidence culture suggests that women—along with people of color, the disabled, and other marginalized groups—are responsible for their own conditions. Rejecting confidence culture’s remaking of feminism along individualistic and neoliberal lines, Orgad and Gill explore alternative articulations of feminism that go beyond the confidence imperative.
Louisa Hann recently attained a PhD in English and American studies from the University of Manchester, specialising in the political economy of HIV/AIDS theatres. She has published work on the memorialisation of HIV/AIDS on the contemporary stage and the use of documentary theatre as a neoliberal harm reduction tool. She is currently working on a monograph based on her doctoral thesis. You can get in touch with her at email@example.com.
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