Chapter 7: The Self-Esteem Study

March 2, 2009 | NeW Staff

I think a whole book could be written on the issue of self-esteem for women. Although, I think it is a deeper issue than self-esteem. I believe it is an issue of identity. In Chapter 7 of Who Stole Feminism?, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers sheds light on the misleading self-esteem study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Eighteen years ago, AAUW released their findings that girls’ self-esteem was plummeting when they were becoming adolescents. However, having probed into the study documents themselves, Dr. Sommers introduces other psychologists’ views and concludes that the AAUW study may not be as trustworthy as so many news sourcs and politicians think. How exactly is self-esteem quantifiable? Is the Gender Equity in Education Act necessary? Do we need to spend millions of dollars to conduct research about the gender equity within school systems? However, if it is gender “equity,” why are boys’ needs not included?

Yesterday, in Gilbert, AZ, there was an event called “Project Pink,” dedicated to helping lift young girls’ self-esteem. You can read an article about it here. Both mothers and fathers were encouraged to attend.

The videos posted on the Project Pink blog are thought provoking. Why do we need so many self-esteem workshops now? When I googled “self esteem” news articles, almost all were dedicated to women’s issues. I believe all people struggle with self-esteem issues. However, it is clearly more common among girls. They all say they same thing. “I feel ugly.” “I feel fat.” “Boys won’t like me unless I’m skinny.”

Women in past decades and past centuries never went to self-esteem workshops. Why now in the 21st century? There seems to be a real lack of respect and human dignity. It is perceived that self-worth is about the outside packaging. How can this change? Is it just about girls? How does it affect boys and their interaction with girls? Does this play into the hook-up culture? What do boys and girls need to be taught about self-esteem? Should it be taught in the public education system? Or is there another alternative?

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