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Quotations:  Feminism

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2009

Don't shut yourself up in a bandbox because you are a woman, but understand what is going on, and educate yourself to take your part in the world's work, for it all affects you and yours. ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "On the Shelf," 1869

The twentieth century will be the century of woman... Woman no longer clings to time-honoured privileges, but is everywhere demanding equal rights. The near future will probably side with her... We shall thus witness the most magnificent social transformation that has been realised since the fall of the Roman Empire. Humanity, directed by man, will suddenly find itself guided and inspired jointly by the two sexes. ~Jean Finot, Problems of the Sexes, translated by Mary J. Safford, 1913

It is commonly considered a step forward in civilization, that whereas ancient and barbarous nations exposed children to special hardships, in order to kill off the weak and toughen the strong, modern nations aim to rear all alike carefully, without either sacrificing or enfeebling. If we apply this to muscle, why not to mind? and, if to men's minds, why not to women's? ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911), "Intellectual Cinderellas," c.1881  [The title of this essay makes me think of my niece, who is going to be a scientist princess when she grows up! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes." ~Clare Boothe Luce

A great reverence for knowledge and the natural sense of justice urge me to encourage in my own sex that which is most worthy the aspirations of all. For, since wisdom is so great an ornament of the human race that it should of right be extended (so far as practicable) to each and every one, I did not see why this fairest of ornaments should not be appropriate for the maiden, to whom we permit all diligence in the decoration and adornment of herself. ~Annæ Mariæ à Schurman (1607–1678), Epistolæ, to D. Andreæ Riveto, 1638, translated from the Latin by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute. ~Rebecca West, "Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice," The Clarion, 1913 November 14th, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

Someday, women will realize that the object of their emancipation is not to make them more like men, but more powerfully womanly, and therefore of greater use to men and themselves and society. ~Dorothy Thompson, Political Guide: A Study of American Liberalism and Its Relationship to Modern Totalitarian States, 1938

Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall off the edge. ~Andrea Dworkin

Slowly, however, the truth is dawning upon women, and still more slowly upon men, that woman is no stepchild of nature, no Cinderella of fate to be dowered only by fairies and the Prince; but that for her and in her, as truly as for and in man, life has wrought its great experiences, its master attainments, its supreme human revelations of the stuff of which worlds are made. That woman has been but a "silent partner" in the building of the outer temples of thought and action during the ages when she has been denied the tools of self-expression in art and science, in literature and politics, is no proof that her contribution has been small even in these lines. It is an old error of man to forget to put quotation marks where he borrows from a woman's brain! ~Anna Garlin Spencer, Woman's Share in Social Culture, 1912

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It's a girl." ~Shirley Chisholm

Women belong in the house — and the Senate. ~Author unknown

I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we've been voting for boobs long enough. ~Claire Sargent, U.S. congressional candidate, Arizona, 1992

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. ~Faith Whittlesey

Scott Hershovitz: Do you have amendments you would like to see added [to our Constitution]?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I have one, beyond all others and that is the Equal Rights Amendment.... every constitution in the world written after World War II has a statement to the effect that women and men are persons of equal citizenship stature. I would like to take my pocket Constitution out, show it to my three granddaughters, and say, "This is a prime value of our society, just like free speech and freedom of religion. The equality of men and women, their equal citizenship stature, is a basic tenet of our society." ~2015 Tanner Lecture conversation at the University of Michigan

I wish someone would have told me that, just because I'm a girl, I don't have to get married. ~Marlo Thomas

Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their opressors. ~Evelyn Cunningham

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I often quoted the lines of Sarah Grimke, one of two wonderful sisters from South Carolina, and they said to legislators in the mid-1900s, I ask no favor for my sex, all I ask of my brethren is that they take their feet from off our necks. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman. ~Anaïs Nin

Man endures pain as an undeserved punishment; woman accepts it as a natural heritage. ~Author Unknown

Sue:  What are they so afraid of? [men, about women being educated]
Emily:  Maybe they're scared that if they teach us how the world works we'll figure out how to take over.
~Alena Smith and Rachel Axler, “I have never seen ‘Volcanoes,’” Dickinson, 2019  [S1, E2 —tg]

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. ~Timothy Leary

I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament. ~Alanis Morissette, quoted in Reader's Digest, March 2000

The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
      As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
      Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam
      In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.
The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
      And enters some alien cage in its plight,
      And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
      While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.
~Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson (1880–1966), "The Heart of a Woman," The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems, 1918

...but boys will be boys, and so will girls too, for that matter. ~Judy, or the London Serio-Comic Journal, 1879

I was told that whistling wasn't ladylike, but I knew even then that women were simply not supposed to be that happy. ~Anonymous, quoted in Kindling the Spirit by Lois P. Frankel

You don't have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. ~Jane Galvin Lewis

When I see the elaborate study and ingenuity displayed by women in the pursuit of trifles, I feel no doubt of their capacity for the most herculean undertakings. ~Julia Ward Howe

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men. ~Joseph Conrad

History is herstory too. ~Author Unknown

Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths. ~Lois Wyse

No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself. ~Rabbi Sofer

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist. ~Sally Kempton, attributed

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.... Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less. ~Susan B. Anthony

One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man. ~Marlo Thomas

There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. ~Madeleine K. Albright

I ask no favors for my sex.... All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks. ~Sarah Moore Grimké

I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government. ~Cissy Farenthold, 1974

I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves. ~Mary Wollstonecraft

There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody. ~Florynce Kennedy

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes. ~Bella Abzug

Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men — bring them softness, teach them how to cry. ~Joan Baez, "Sexism Seen but not Heard," Los Angeles Times, 1974

I've yet to be on a campus where most women weren't worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I've yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. ~Gloria Steinem

Most women are one man away from welfare. ~Gloria Steinem

I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tunafish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock. ~Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

Feminism directly confronts the idea that one person or set of people [has] the right to impose definitions of reality on others. ~Liz Stanley and Sue Wise

Cultured, beautiful, and fair;
Black and brown and golden hair;
Daughters of my fondest care,
Freedom's a deluding snare.
Half the human race, you see,
Is deprived of liberty...
Wards of legal slavery,
Cultured daughters, we must be
Voiceless by the world's decree...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "How It Is" (An Equal-Suffrage Song), Souvenirs of Occasions, 1892

When will come the declaration
      That will make us wholly free?
When the July independence
      Of our fuller liberty?
We are cramped with heavier taxes
      Than could ever rest on tea...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "A Fourth of July Prophecy," Souvenirs of Occasions, 1892

I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war. ~Robert Mueller

Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776. ~Susan B. Anthony

A man has every season while a woman only has the right to spring. ~Jane Fonda

Sometimes I'm asked when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, and when I say "when there are nine," people are shocked. But there'd been nine men and nobody's ever raised a question about that. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2012  [a little altered —tg]

How good does a female athlete have to be before we just call her an athlete? ~Author Unknown

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. ~Lucretia Mott

The blood of generations of honoured women boiled in my veins. ~Sarah Grand (1854–1943), "The Condemned Cell," Emotional Moments, 1908

It matters more what's in a woman's face than what's on it. ~Claudette Colbert, quoted in Kindling the Spirit by Lois P. Frankel

To tell a woman everything she may not do is to tell her what she can do. ~Spanish Proverb

Oh! that I could so appeal to my brothers everywhere, that forever after they would regard women as of angelic order, to be approached only as they would approach the enthroned Goddess of Purity, upon whose presence none would dare presume, and whose favors it is theirs to merit and receive, rather than to command and appropriate. Look not upon her for selfish purposes, but rather to bless her, let that blessing depend upon what it may, even if to bless is not to possess. Other love than this is selfishness, and a profanation of the Holy Word. That is love which will bless the object, even if to do so is to yield it. Remember that it is a pretension and a fraud to think of ownership in, or control over, the person of a woman. This is her inheritance, never to be bartered, never to be sold, never to be given away, even; but only to be exchanged, blessing for blessing, when an all-absorbing, all-embracing, all-desiring love points out the way. ~Victoria Claflin Woodhull Martin, Tried As By Fire; or, The True and the False, Socially.

Women are not inherently passive or peaceful. We're not inherently anything but human. ~Robin Morgan

Men will often admit other women are oppressed but not you. ~Sheila Rowbotham

Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet;
In short, my deary, kiss me, and be quiet.
~Mary Wortley Montagu, A Summary of Lord Lyttelton's Advice

[C]elebrate the exquisite beauty of every woman. ~Cindy Olsen, co-owner of The Body Objective website, 1999

Advertisers in general bear a large part of the responsibility for the deep feelings of inadequacy that drive women to psychiatrists, pills, or the bottle. ~Marya Mannes, But Will It Sell?, 1964

Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man. ~Margaret Mead

Women's chains have been forged by men, not by anatomy. ~Estelle R. Ramey

I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives but as nouns. ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Our Girls"

Time was when all a girl needed to know was how to cook and sew and mind a baby and hold her tongue. Nowadays everything's different. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958  [Grandfather explaining to granddaughter why he wants her to go to school. —tg]

Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry. ~Gloria Steinem

For centuries women were content to be classed as second-rate men. Those who attempted to rise out of their dependency and inferiority were usually promptly burned as witches. Women had no chance to earn their living independently, and perforce, were constrained to remain at home and do the world's dirty work. ~W. Béran Wolfe, M.D. (1900–1935), "The Art of Understanding Women," in Esquire, May 1935

Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative positions to be assumed by man and woman in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence than ours. ~Grover Cleveland, 1905

If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves? ~Mary Astell

I listen to feminists and all these radical gals — most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men — that's their problem. ~Jerry Falwell

[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. ~Pat Robertson

I think, therefore I'm single. ~Lizz Winstead

I can't be a rose in any man's lapel. ~Margaret Trudeau

We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood....After a long history during which living solo would get you labeled a pathetic spinster or, if you were lucky, a sexual iconoclast, being recognized as an independent person rather than as someone's daughter, wife, or mother is a new, shiny kind of liberty for women, one that has unlocked all sorts of doors. ~Rebecca Traister, "Love and the Single Girl: The Single Girl Revolution," 2012 May 30th,

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. ~Mary Wollstonecraft

But one thing, girls are smarter than fellows, I have to admit that... The boy scouts are all right, and you can see for yourself that you can do a lot by concerted appetite. But you need brains, too. And if it hadn't been for the Girl Scouts and the Erie Railroad, where would we be, I'd like to know? So that's why my favorite heroes are the Girl Scouts and the Erie Railroad. ~Percy Keese Fitzhugh, Roy Blakeley: Lost, Strayed or Stolen, 1921

The only jobs for which no man is qualified are human incubators and wet nurse. Likewise, the only job for which no woman is or can be qualified is sperm donor. ~Wilma Scott Heide

Whether women are better than men I cannot say — but I can say they are certainly no worse. ~Golda Meir

Give a woman a job and she grows balls. ~Jack Gelber

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~Maya Angelou, c.1983

American women are fools because they try to be everything to everybody. ~Viva

Several men I can think of are as capable, as smart, as funny, as compassionate, and as confused — as remarkable you might say — as most women. ~Jane Howard

Not only is women's work never done, the definition keeps changing. ~Bill Copeland

No man is as anti-feminist as a really feminine woman. ~Frank O'Connor

Men weren't really the enemy — they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill. ~Betty Friedan

It is now possible for a flight attendant to get a pilot pregnant. ~Richard J. Ferris

Sometimes the best man for the job isn't. ~Author Unknown

If Congress refuse to listen to and grant what women ask, there is but one course left them to pursue.... Under such glaring inconsistencies, such unwarrantable tyranny, such unscrupulous despotism, what is there left women to do but to become the mothers of the future government. ~Victoria Claflin Woodhull Martin, The Great Secession Speech of Victoria C. Woodhull, Before the National Woman's Suffrage Convention, at Apollo Hall, May 11, 1871

Scratch most feminists and underneath there is a woman who longs to be a sex object. The difference is that is not all she wants to be. ~Betty Rollin

[A]mong the women there is a stiff awkward reserve that belongs to neither sublime resignation or divine hope — wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other... ~Abba May Alcott (1800–1877), 1843, of a Shaker community

When two people marry they become in the eyes of the law one person, and that one person is the husband. ~Shana Alexander, State-by-State Guide to Women's Legal Rights, 1975

Why is it that men can be bastards and women must wear pearls and smile? ~Lynn Hecht Schafran

You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I'm sure I would have played his mother. That's the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older. ~Lillian Gish

Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man. ~Nancy Linn-Desmond

Isn't that the problem? That women have been swindled for centuries into substituting adornment for love, fashion (as it were) for passion? ~Erica Jong

      "A woman does not, then, necessarily leave the industrial service on marriage?" I queried.
      "No more than a man," replied the doctor. "Why on earth should she?... a husband is not a baby that he should be cared for."
      ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888

Young wives are the leading asset of corporate power. They want the suburbs, a house, a settled life, and respectability. They want society to see that they have exchanged themselves for something of value. ~Ralph Nader

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive. ~Marya Mannes

Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness. ~Erica Jong

Here's to the woman with many a care,
Who sits all day in an office chair.
And at night, when her day's work there is through
Goes home and finds more work to do;
Gets up in the morning and cooks and scrubs,
And wrestles round with laundry tubs;
Yet the usual hour finds her smiling there,
Beside her desk, in the office chair.
If she's strong enough these burdens to tote,
Here's to the State where they let her vote!
~Author unknown, "A Real Toast," 1914

It starts when you sink in his arms and ends with your arms in his sink. ~Author Unknown

To me, "sexual freedom" means freedom from having to have sex. ~Lily Tomlin

No one should have to dance backward all of their lives. ~Jill Ruckelshaus

When a woman behaves like a man, why doesn't she behave like a nice man? ~Edith Evans

We have to have faith in ourselves. I have never met a woman who, deep down in her core, really believes she has great legs. And if she suspects that she might have great legs, then she's convinced that she has a shrill voice and no neck. ~Cynthia Heimel

The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces. ~Maureen Murphy

Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract, and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences. ~Isadora Duncan

It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. ~Sally Kempton, Esquire, 1970

I'm just a person trapped inside a woman's body. ~Elaine Boosler

Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution. ~Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals

A creature ruled by the lunar cycle in charge of a business? Absurd! Have you gone insane? ~Making History, "Night Cream," 2017, written by Alison Agosti  [S1, E7, John Hancock]

We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem

Our only hope for the redemption of woman from the thralldom of dress lies in the belief that her hitherto limited sphere of activities has been so insufficient for her intellectual occupations that she has been forced to expend her thoughts in decorating her person, instead of enlarging her mind. ~Mercy B. Jackson

There is more difference within the sexes than between them. ~Ivy Compton-Burnett, Mother and Son

Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and... for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement. ~Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, 1987 September 14th

Why is it that only girls stand on the sides of their feet? As if they're afraid to plant themselves? ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams, 1990

During the feminist revolution, the battle lines were again simple. It was easy to tell the enemy, he was the one with the penis. This is no longer strictly true. Some men are okay now. We're allowed to like them again. We still have to keep them in line, of course, but we no longer have to shoot them on sight. ~Cynthia Heimel, Sex Tips for Girls, 1983

I didn't want to be a boy, ever, but I was outraged that his height and intelligence were graces for him and gaucheries for me. ~Jane Rule

We haven't come a long way, we've come a short way. If we hadn't come a short way, no one would be calling us baby. ~Elizabeth Janeway

My favorite thing about girl power is that over time it turns into woman power. ~Cleo Wade,

A woman is like a tea bag. It's only when she's in hot water that you realize how strong she is. ~Attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg ["A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water." ~Chinese Proverb] ["Optimism is a cheerful frame of mind which enables a tea kettle to whistle and sing although it is up to its neck in hot water all the time." ~Author unknown, 1914]

The little rift between the sexes is astonishingly widened by simply teaching one set of catchwords to the girls and another to the boys. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Men might regard economic equality with favor or disfavor, according to their economic positions, but every woman, simply because she was a woman, was bound to be for it as soon as she got it through her head what it meant for her half of the race. ~Edward Bellamy, "What the Revolution Did for Women," Equality, 1897

Men define intelligence, men define usefulness, men tell us what is beautiful, men even tell us what is womanly. ~Sally Kempton

Sexism is a social disease. ~Author Unknown

[Y]ou wouldn't bother promoting that tired cliché that women can have it all — orgasms and babies and power, oh my! Because we all know that when you try to have everything, you wind up with nothing.... now let's get back to your mission to reduce women to their pinker parts. ~Mistresses, "Lean In" [S4, E5, 2016], written by Rina Mimoun, spoken by the character Jason Hughes on the "Love Chat" podcast

Men are irrelevant. Women are happy or unhappy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, and it has nothing to do with men. ~Fay Weldon

One does not have to sleep with, or even touch, someone who has paid for your meal. All those obligations are hereby rendered null and void, and any man who doesn't think so needs a quick jab in the kidney. ~Cynthia Heimel, Sex Tips for Girls, 1983

Women are all female impersonators to some degree. ~Susan Brownmiller

All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are "sides," and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot. As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamental pots. ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. ~Elizabeth Bibesco

My advice to the women's clubs of America is to raise more hell and fewer dahlias. ~James McNeill Whistler

Related Quotations:  WomenMenConfidenceWomen's GreetingsHistoryMothersDaughters  Human RightsFreedomEquality

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