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Assertiveness

  • If you behave like a doormat, expect to be stepped on and don't complain about it.

  • Must! Is must a word to be addressed to princes? Little man, little man! Thy father, if he had been alive, durst not have used that word.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • when ordered to bed during her final illness by Robert Cecil (1603), in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • [To Parliament, when it urged her to marry and settle the succession:] You attend to your own duties and I'll perform mine.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • Although I may not be a lioness, I am a lion's cub, and inherit many of his qualities; and as long as the King of France treats me gently he will find me as gentle and tractable as he can desire; but if he be rough, I shall take the trouble to be just as troublesome and offensive to him as I can.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • 1574, in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • When I came to live in Paris after having painted in Rome & other places, the sight of the annual exhibitions, quite led me astray. I thought I must be wrong & the painters admired of the public right — It was then I fell in with our band & took quite another direction —

    • Mary Cassatt,
    • 1913, in Nancy Mowll Mathews, ed., Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters ()
  • Both as a technique and an art, 'no' lies at the heart of an effective personality.

  • Once you have decided what you wish to do, what you believe is the right thing under the circumstances, 'no' allows you to weed out what is redundant, excessive, inappropriate, or conflicting.

  • It is what I don't do that gives me the freedom to do what I wish.

  • Sometimes you don't know that the house you live in is glass until the stone you cast comes boomeranging back. Maybe that's the actual reason you threw it. Something in you was yelling, 'I want out.' The life you saved, as well as the glass you shattered, was your own.

  • [To her husband:] ... dear, never forget one little point. It's my business. You just work here.

    • Elizabeth Arden,
    • in Alfred Allan Lewis and Constance Woodworth, Miss Elizabeth Arden ()
  • ... I had received my first establishment grants in response to applications filed the year before. To the pages of baffling forms I had simply attached a handwritten note saying, 'I make dances, not applications. Send the money. Love, Twyla.'

  • ... when the time came I would do battle with my mother for the right to sit at the center of my own life.

  • There ain't a worm but will turn when he's trod upon ...

  • She must learn again to speak / starting with I / starting with we / starting as the infant does / with her own true hunger / and pleasure / and rage.

    • Marge Piercy,
    • "Unlearning to not speak," To Be of Use ()
  • Wolf's wool is the best of wool, / but it cannot be sheared because / the wolf will not comply.

  • Let me listen to me and not to them.

  • these hips are big hips / ... / they don't like to be held back. / these hips have never been enslaved, / they go where they want to go / they do what they want to do. / these hips are mighty hips. / these hips are magic hips.

  • [Pulling off the woman sitting on John Huston's lap:] Listen, you, I'm his wife, and that's his mistress over there, and you are one too many.

  • The duty we owe ourselves is greater than that we owe others.

  • I'm a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That's me.

  • Tanis was an underminer, but people can't undermine you if you don't let yourself be undermined.

  • I fired the ball for the purpose of giving those dudes to understand upon what ground I stood, believing that those of this class who believe that there are no women capable of taking care of themselves when young, would inform their friends that they might be in danger of their lives if they approached me.

    • Mary Walker,
    • 1862, in Charles McCool Snyder, Dr. Mary Walker ()
  • I'm really a pussycat — with an iron tail.

    • Rona Barrett,
    • in Christopher P. Andersen, The New Book of People ()
  • ... I can see that the Lady has a genius for ruling, whilst I have a genius for — not being ruled!

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter (1845), in Alexander Carlyle, ed., New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, vol. 1 ()
  • ... sooner or later I do what I want to do.

    • Muriel Spark,
    • in Martin Stannard, Muriel Spark: The Biography ()
  • I really worked at becoming more assertive, and now none of my friends talk to me.

  • The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

    • Maureen Dowd,
    • "Pucci, Yes! Prawns, No!" The New York Times ()
  • [After being fired by NBC for being too ruthless producing 'The Tonight Show':] I've been serving you steak dinners for almost eighteen years. I just haven't bothered showing you how I slaughtered the cow.

    • Halen Kushnick,
    • in Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Beyond the Double Bind ()
  • I have never been able to accept the two great laws of humanity — that you're always being suppressed if you're inspired and always being pushed into a corner if you're exceptional. I won't be cornered and I won't stay suppressed.

  • [After her 18-day disappearance in 1974:] I love my husband very, very much, but he didn't ask me when he ran for mayor and he didn't consult me about running for governor. It would be nice to be asked. ... You know, I've been my mother's daughter, my father's daughter, the wife of my husband, the mother of my six children, and grandmother to my eleven grandchildren, but I have never been me. But I am now because I went away. I am a changed woman.

  • You are not entitled to my space.

  • In youth, it was a way I had / To do my best to please, / And change, with every passing lad, / To suit his theories. / But now I know the things I know, / And do the things I do, / And if you do not like me so, / To hell, my love, with you!

  • You can waste your life drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.