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1001 Feminist Quotes

The following is a collection of quotes about feminism and human rights:

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

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, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

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

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. ~Clarie Sargent, Arizona senatorial candidate

Never let the hand you hold, hold you down. ~Author Unknown

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

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

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy. ~Henry Kissinger

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ~Roseanne Barr

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

I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped! ~Author Unknown

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

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

I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay. ~Madonna Ciccone

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

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

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

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

A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual. ~Gloria Steinem

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

I've left Bethlehem, and I feel free. I've left the girl I was supposed to be, and some day I'll be born. ~Paula Cole, "Tiger," This Fire

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

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

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

Being a lady is an attitude. ~Chuck Woolery, Love Connection 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"

I am beautiful as I am. I am the shape that was gifted. My breasts are no longer perky and upright like when I was a teenager. My hips are wider than that of a fashion model's. For this I am glad, for these are the signs of a life lived. ~Cindy Olsen, co-owner of The Body Objective

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

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. ~Reverend 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

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

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

The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive. ~Betty Friedan

It's wonderful to watch a pretty woman with character grow beautiful. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~Maya Angelou, in Chris Orr, "Moms and Whoopi: Pioneers of Black Theater," Plexus, November 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

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

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

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 Schafren

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

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

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

And the crazy part of it was even if you were clever, even if you spent your adolescence reading John Donne and Shaw, even if you studied history or zoology or physics and hoped to spend your life pursuing some difficult and challenging career, you still had a mind full of all the soupy longings that every high-school girl was awash in... underneath it, all you longed to be was annihilated by love, to be swept off your feet, to be filled up by a giant prick spouting sperm, soapsuds, silk and satins and, of course, money. ~Erica Jong

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

Women are not the weak, frail little flowers that they are advertised. There has never been anything invented yet, including war, that a man would enter into, that a woman wouldn't, too. ~Will Rogers

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

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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, 14 September 1987

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

Many beautiful women have been made happy by their own beauty, but no intelligent woman has ever been made happy by her own intelligence. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

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

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

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 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

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. ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, 1929

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

You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law. ~Lyn Beth Neylon

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. ~Abraham Lincoln

Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself. ~Robert Ingersoll

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers. ~Gandhi

If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine. ~Michael Jay Tucker

Republicans are against abortion until their daughters need one, Democrats are for abortion until their daughter wants one. ~Grace McGarvie

I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born. ~Ronald Reagan, quoted in New York Times, 22 September 1980

No woman wants an abortion. Either she wants a child or she wishes to avoid pregnancy. ~Author Unknown

Society does not need more children; but it does need more loved children. Quite literally, we cannot afford unloved children - but we pay heavily for them every day. There should not be the slightest communal concern when a woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not wanted is about to be born. ~Garrett Hardin

Only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive. ~Author Unknown

Of course abortion isn't right. But it is even less right to bring unwanted children into lifelong suffering and to strip women of their choice. Making abortion illegal is not the way to prevent it. There is a much larger picture that starts with much deeper roots. ~Anonymous

If it isn't a baby, then you aren't pregnant, so what are you aborting? ~Author Unknown

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. ~Florynce R. Kennedy, 1973

With humans it's abortion, but with chickens it's an omelet. ~Attributed to George Carlin

Abolition of a woman's right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State. ~Edward Abbey

Seventy-seven percent of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant. ~Planned Parenthood advertisement

Abortion... was probably regarded by the average Roman of the later days of Paganism much as Englishmen in the last century regarded convivial excesses, as certainly wrong, but so venial as scarcely to deserve censure. ~W.E.H. Lecky

No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg. ~Frederica Mathewes-Green

George W. Bush will protect your unborn fetus, then send your grown child to die in war. ~Rick Claro

The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies. ~Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Roe v. Wade, 22 January 1973

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead." —Louisa May Alcott

"Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences." —Susan B. Anthony

"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race." —Susan B. Anthony

"We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever." —Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876

"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers." —Susan B. Anthony

"In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on a woman." —Nancy Astor (British Politician)

"For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women." —Elizabeth Blackwell (The first woman in the U.S. to become a physician)

"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one "less traveled by"—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth." — Rachel Carson

"The family unit plays a critical role in our society and in the training of the generation to come." —Sandra Day O'Connor

"We've chosen the path to equality, don't let them turn us around." —Geraldine Ferraro (The first woman to be nominated as Vice President of the United States)

"You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do." —Jane Fonda

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it." — Margaret Fuller

"My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong." —Mother Jones

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got." —Janis Joplin

"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." —Helen Keller

"If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place." —Margaret Mead

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." —Margaret Mead

"I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome." —Golda Meir

"Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade." — Constance Baker Motley (First Black Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge)

"I think the key is for women not to set any limits." — Martina Navratilova

"People think at the end of the day that a man is the only answer [to fulfillment]. Actually a job is better for me." —Princess Diana

"Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." —Eleanor Roosevelt

"I think it's very important for everyone in America to realize right now the state of our country, not just on this issue but on a lot of issues, that it is time to get active again. People have just sat back and just sort of said, oh, let somebody else do it for a long time, and we're seeing what's happening to the country, even freedom of speech. It's not going well. So I think this is a real opportunity for people to see, yes, if you do get out and you do get active, there are other people there. You just have to seek them out." —Mary Steenburgen

"In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she's a feminist or a masochist." —Gloria Steinem

"The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn." —Gloria Steinem

"I am also very proud to be a liberal. Why is that so terrible these days? The liberals were liberators—they fought slavery, fought for women to have the right to vote, fought against Hitler, Stalin, fought to end segregation, fought to end apartheid. Liberals put an end to child labor and they gave us the five day work week! What's to be ashamed of?" —Barbra Streisand

"We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people, including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong exclusively in the home." —Rosalyn Sussman (Nobel Prize-winning medical physicist)

"You can tell how high a society is by how much of its garbage is recycled." —Dhyani Ywahoo (Native American)

"It's so clear that you have to cherish everyone. I think that's what I get from these older black women, that every soul is to be cherished, that every flower is to bloom." —Alice Walker

"I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances." —Martha Washington

"As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world." —Virginia Woolf

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