It’s sad but true: women often have their self-confidence and self-esteem shot down—often by men—and don’t realize they have the right to stand up for themselves, and that they are not, in fact, crazy, stupid, incompetent, irrational or oversensitive. Men (and occasionally women) have often used PMS as an pretense to make these kind of accusations, but that is just one example of a way that women's power and confidence gets chipped away.
In fact, there is even a name for this kind of subterfuge: “gaslighting.” The word comes from a 1944 movie, Gaslight, that starred Ingrid Bergmann and Charles Boyer. (A note to film buffs: this was Bergman’s first Oscar for Best Actress, and it was Angela Lansbury’s screen debut, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. It was also nominated for best picture.) In it, Boyer's character tries to get his wife, played by Bergman, committed to an insane asylum so he can get his hands on her valuable jewelry. He constantly turns down the gas lights in their house, and then tells Bergman, when she says she can’t see, that she’s imagining things – that the house is perfectly well lit. The term “gaslighting” came to mean a man undermining a woman’s self-confidence—indeed, her version of reality—under false pretenses and usually with some ulterior motive for personal gain and power.
We were reminded of this by an excellent post, addressed to women from a man, declaring “You Are Not Crazy.” The point is, gaslighting is more than just a movie. It’s not something that died with black and white pictures and old-time film stars, but continues today, and is something with which many women are all too familiar.
We don't think girls and women should have their personal power sabotaged, which is one reason we focus on empowering women through education. We hope to be part of a solution that helps women build up solid self-confidence and self-esteem that can’t be undermined by gaslighters.