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Feminism

  • I am constantly surprised that the simple word 'feminism' raises more eyebrows and initiates more sad-faced head-shaking than any elaborate stream of invective I have ever leveled at either the I.R.S. or the D.M.V ...

  • An ardent feminist, he believed in women taking precisely the same liberties with orthodoxies as men had done since the beginning of time ...

  • The feminist movement as at present instituted is Inadequate.

    • Mina Loy,
    • "Feminist Manifesto" (1914), in Roger L. Conover, ed., The Lost Lunar Baedecker ()
  • 'I hate discussions of feminism that end up with who does the dishes,' she said. So do I. But at the end, there are always the damned dishes.

  • 'I'm not a feminist,' some women say sternly as they march off to work where equal opportunity legislation protects them ... Women who say they are not feminists and act like individuals with basic human rights have just got their terminology wrong.

  • [Feminist:] A woman who assumes self-dependence as a basic condition of her life.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Barbara Ehrenreich, "The Women's Movements, Feminist and Anti-Feminist," Radical America ()
  • A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.

  • ... we are becoming the men we wanted to marry.

  • The alternative to being a feminist is being a masochist.

  • Feminism isn't called the longest revolution for nothing.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "Revving Up for the Next Twenty-Five Years," in Ms. ()
  • Women tend to be conservative in youth and get more radical as they get older because they lose power with age. So, if a young woman is not a feminist, I say, just wait.

  • There's no such thing as post-feminism. It's like saying post-democracy, excuse me, what does that mean? We're nowhere near equality, so the very idea of post-feminism is ridiculous. The same people who 30-40 years ago said the women's movement is not necessary, 'it's going against nature, my wife is not interested' [are] the same people now saying 'well it used to be necessary but not anymore.' The very invention of the word post-feminism is the current form of resistance.

  • Women, rouse yourselves! The tocsin of reason resounds through the whole universe: recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudices, fanaticism, superstition and lies.

  • This talk about wimmen bein' outside and above all participation in the laws of her country, is jest as pretty as anything I ever hearn, and jest as simple. Why, you might jest as well throw a lot of snowflakes into the street, and say, 'Some of 'em are female flakes and mustn't be trompled on.' The great march of life tromples on 'em all alike; they fall from one common sky, and are trodden down into one common ground.

  • There might ... have arisen a 'woman's rights question' in those old Mosaic days, had not the priests, who feared any loosening of their control over the people, issued a 'Thus saith the Lord,' and so riveted her chains for another three thousand years. 'Thy desire shall be unto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,' settled the problem for the time.

  • ... woman's subordination came to be complete. She was first knocked down, dragged away senseless, and made a slave. She was bought and sold, or traded; she became a thing, a piece of property, a bond slave. Her degraded position among men became a custom, then an institution, then a tradition.

  • Woman has been considered too much as woman, and not enough as a human being. The constant reference to her sex has been neither ennobling, complimentary, nor agreeable. Either as slave, toy, pet, or queen, this ceaseless thinking of her sex instead of herself has been degrading. To finally arrive at her best she simply needs consideration as a fellow member of society.

  • A woman's life stretches over many periods, as does man's. In a lifetime she is capable of being much more than a mother, as man is expected to be much more than a father.

  • What is it that woman wants? What is it she hopes to attain? What is it she lacks that men are not willing to give? It is no wonderful thing; nothing preposterous or presumptuous. She simply wants to be a human being, not a slave, not a toy, not a queen. She wants the equal personal liberty that every man demands in order to become a fully developed, well-balanced, happy, and useful being. Only this and nothing more.

  • The only coherent fashion statement I can recall from the entire [feminist] movement was the suggestion that Mrs. Cleaver, Beaver's mom, would on the whole have been a happier woman had she not persisted in vacuuming while wearing high heels. This, I still believe.

  • Feminism has meant many things; many unnecessary things. It can be defined as a position — about justice and dignity and liberty — to which almost all independent women would adhere if they did not fear the retaliation that accompanies a word with such a sulfurous reputation. Or it can be defined as a position easier to disavow or quarrel with ... That version of feminism suggests that there is a war against men, which was anathema to such women; that feminism suggests an avowal of strength — and a denial of the difficulty and the cost for women in being strong (above all, the cost in masculine support and affection); more, it proclaims pride in being a woman, it even affirms the superiority of women — all attitudes that felt alien to the many independent women who were proud of their accomplishments and who knew the sacrifices and the compromises they entailed.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "A Double Destiny: On Anna Banti's Artemisia," At the Same Time ()
  • ... the explanation of the ebb and flow of the women's movement ... is partly psychological. During those early post-war years when successes came thick and fast and were almost thrust upon us, the nation was still under the influence of the reconstruction spirit, when everything seemed possible ... A few years later the nation had reached the stage which follows a drinking bout. It was feeling ruefully in its empty pockets. It did not want to part with anything to anybody. Its head ached. Noble sentiments made it feel sick. It wanted only to be left alone.

    • Eleanor F. Rathbone,
    • "Changes in Public Life," in Ray Strachey, ed., Our Freedom and Its Results ()
  • ... continually measuring women's wants by men's achievements seems out of date, ignominious, and intolerably boring. ... Now that we have secured possession of the tools of citizenship, we intend to use them not to copy men's models but to produce our own.

    • Eleanor F. Rathbone,
    • "Changes in Public Life," in Ray Strachey, ed., Our Freedom and Its Results ()
  • Feminism is a way of understanding reality, not just a series of things to do. Feminism challenges our predilection for one right answer, one right God, one size fits all.

  • ... people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.

  • A lot of men got upset at the feminist movement because they had all the toys and we wanted some.

  • One serious cultural obstacle encountered by any feminist writer is that each feminist work has tended to be received as if it emerged from nowhere; as if each one of us had lived, thought, and worked without any historical past or contextual present. This is one of the ways in which women's work and thinking has been made to seem sporadic, errant, orphaned of any tradition of its own.

  • Feminism is the most revolutionary idea there has ever been. Equality for women demands a change in the human psyche more profound than anything Marx dreamed of. It means valuing parenthood as much as we value banking.

  • For many people, feminism has almost been equated with a tiresome insistence on 'chair' and 'dustperson,' and plenty of strong-minded women who've never had the slightest difficulty with language think the whole thing is absurd — it's certainly given an easy target to its enemies. But they underestimate the cumulative effect of always hearing Stone-Age man, postman, chairman; of the different reactions you have to 'landlord' and 'landlady,' of 'a bit of a bitch' and 'a bit of a dog.'

  • 'Mother, what is a Feminist?' / 'A Feminist, my daughter, / Is any woman now who cares / To think about her own affairs / As men don't think she oughter.'

  • You can't be a feminist and a capitalist.

  • Feminism is not being ashamed of being a woman and not using woman as a swear word. It also means not hating women you don't approve of simply because you don't approve of them.

    • Alta,
    • in Jennifer Stone, Stone's Throw ()
  • ... most women preface their support of the women's movement with 'I'm not a feminist, but..' But? But, what? You think God is going to get you if you say, 'I am for women's liberation and ...' Right? Well, She is not.

  • [On feminism:] I think of the future in two ways — survival plus moving forward. Under survival, I would put all the efforts to save the female half of the world from violence directed at us specifically because we are female; what Diana Russell has called femicide. Under survival is everything from domestic violence, sex trafficking, rape and serial killing to aborting female fetuses, female genital mutilation, child marriage and denying female children protein, health care and education. Under moving forward, I would put all the efforts to humanize the 'masculine' and 'feminine' gender roles that are the beginning of a false human hierarchy and normalize race, class and other systems of domination to come — even 'Man's' dominion over nature. The deepest change begins with men raising children as much as women do and women being equal actors in the world outside the home. There are many ways of supporting that, from something as simple as paid sick leave and flexible work hours to attributing an economic value to all care-giving, and making that amount tax deductible. Until the masculine role is humanized, women will tend to be much better at solving dangerous conflicts. That's already happened in Ireland and Liberia, and is beginning in North and South Korea. And of course, allowing women the power to decide when and whether to have children is the only way to solve the 7 billion human load on this planet that threatens to destroy it. Women's equality is also men's survival.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • in Marianne Schnall, "Interview With Gloria Steinem," The Huffington Post ()
  • For me, to be a feminist is to answer the question 'Are women human?' with a yes.

  • For many people, feminism is one of those words of which, as St. Augustine said about time, they know the meaning as long as no one is asking.

  • Like Broadway, the novel, and God, feminism has been declared dead many times.

  • Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffered Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — 'Is this all?'

  • Women are everywhere. Everything is our concern.

  • Modern young women ... show a strong hostility to the word 'feminism,' and all which they imagine it to connote. They are, nevertheless, themselves the products of the women's movement ...

    • Ray Strachey,
    • in Ray Strachey, ed., Our Freedom and Its Results ()
  • The whole idea of the feminist struggle being a peripheral kind of thing that you do in your spare time is something that has to be changed.

    • Rosemary Brown,
    • in "The Radical Tradition of Rosemary Brown," Branching Out ()
  • A lot of women seem to have a similar attitude, — 'I'm not a feminist' — and it gets wearying. What's wrong with being a feminist? I'm proud to be a feminist. It's been one of the most positive things in my life. It's one of the best traditions there is. It's admirable to be a feminist and to stand up for one's sex, to fight against inequality and injustice and to work for a better society.

    • Mary Stott,
    • in Dale Spender, There's Always Been a Women's Movement This Century ()
  • Feminism is to sexism what black nationalism is to racism; the most rational response to the problem.

    • Pearl Cleage,
    • "Basic Training: The Beginnings of Wisdom," Deals With the Devil ()
  • The goals of the feminist movement have not been achieved, and those who claim we're living in a post-feminist era are either sadly mistaken or tired of thinking about the whole subject.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "An Introduction to The Edible Woman," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • Feminism is not a patch; it is a whole new pattern which can only be realized by weaving a new garment, seamless from top to bottom and multicolored from the beginning.

  • At the demonstration of sixty feminists against the Miss America Pageant in 1968, when the women filled a trash can with bras, girdles, curlers and spike-heeled shoes, the bra-burning myth was launched by the media and, in spite of its inaccuracy and spiteful intent, put radical feminism on the map.

  • Feminism: The radical notion that women are people.

  • That seems to be the haunting fear of mankind — that the advancement of women will sometime, someway, someplace, interfere with some man's comfort.

  • Sisterhood is a powerful metaphor; it ought not become a synonym for groupthink.

  • The embattled gates to equal rights indeed opened up for modern women, but I sometimes think to myself: That is not what I meant by freedom — it is only 'social progress.'

  • Money, male stardom and heroism, represent conservative values. Feminism can never, must never be conservative.

    • Joanna Frueh,
    • in Arlene Raven, Cassandra Langer, Joanna Frueh, eds., Feminist Art Criticism ()
  • All women are feminists, whether they know it or not.

  • ... women's liberation is about something more than 'to pass off as a man.' It is about changing destructive features in a man's society.

    • Rita Liljeström,
    • in Hilda Scott, Sweden's "Right to Be Human": Sex-Role Equality, the Goal and the Reality ()
  • The word 'feminist' is now used most often to divide women from their own interests and worse, against one another.

  • Each time we had a visiting writer, I asked what she thought of women and humor. By the end of the year, I had perfected my question and asked Adrienne Rich why there was so little written about women and humor. She looked at me right in the eye and said, 'You write it.' I took that as an order.

  • Whenever a woman describes herself as a 'post-feminist' I picture women lashed to posts. Joan of Arc was an early post-feminist.

  • ... feminism is about ultimate, limitless reality ...

  • We think of a feminist as someone a woman becomes in reaction to personal indignities and social injustices. But the truth is, such inequities only awaken her to the feminist she has always fundamentally been — that is, a person who understands that her first responsibility is to her own humanity. That's why, for my money, the first known use of the word 'feminist' is still the best, appearing in an 1895 book review: a woman who 'has in her the capacity of fighting her way back to independence.'

  • Feminism's agenda is basic: It asks that women not be forced to 'choose' between public justice and private happiness. It asks that women be free to define themselves — instead of having their identity defined for them, time and again, by their culture and their men.

  • ... the point of feminism ... is to win women a wider range of experience. Feminism remains a pretty simple concept, despite repeated — and enormously effective — efforts to dress it up in greasepaint and turn its proponents into gargoyles.

  • ... the backlash convinced the public that women's 'liberation' was the true contemporary American scourge — the source of an endless laundry list of personal, social, and economic problems.

  • ... the last decade has seen a powerful counterassault on women's rights, a backlash, an attempt to retract the handful of small and hard-won victories that the feminist movement did manage to win for women. This counterassault is largely insidious: in a kind of pop-culture version of the Big Lie, it stands the truth boldly on its head and proclaims that the very steps that have elevated women's position have actually led to their downfall.

  • Feminism practices what anarchism preaches.

  • 'Feminist' simply means someone who supports equal rights and opportunities for women.

  • Let it all hang out. Let it seem bitchy, catty, dykey, frustrated, crazy, nutty, frigid, ridiculous, bitter, embarrassing, man-hating, libelous, pure, unfair, envious, intuitive, low-down, stupid, petty, liberating. We are the women that men have warned us about.

  • If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity.

  • ... an indigenous feminism has been present in every culture in the world and in every period of history since the suppression of women began.

  • When table utensils were invented in the 1100s, the Catholic Church condemned them as obscene and heretical, claiming, 'God gave us fingers with which to eat.' And we're supposed to get politically discouraged? Oh please. We're being opposed by people who denounced the fork.

  • ... contemporary feminism is here to stay. ... We ain't goin' backward, crazy, under, or away.

  • The personal is political.

  • I'm furious about the Women's Liberationists. They keep getting up on soapboxes and proclaiming that women are brighter than men. That's true, but it should be kept very quiet or it ruins the whole racket.

  • Life is a big battle for the complete feminist ...

    • Cyrstal Eastman,
    • 1918, in Blanche Wiesen Cook, Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution ()
  • The spread of feminism is the most spectacular, extraordinary phenomenon in the last twenty years, and I believe we will accomplish our goals in a million different ways.

    • Eleanor Holmes Norton,
    • 1983, in Helen S. Aston and Carole Leland, eds., Women of Influence, Women of Vision ()
  • We shall some day be heeded, and when we shall have our amendment to the Constitution of the United States, everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people believe that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • 1894, in Lynn Sherr, ed., Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words ()
  • Since the beginning of the Movement, lesbianism has been a kind of code word for female resistance.

  • A fundamental feminist principle is that the means are the ends; that how we do something is what we get.

    • Anonymous,
    • 1977, in Sonia Johnson, Wildfire ()
  • Contemporary feminism cut itself off from history and bankrupted itself when it spun its puerile, paranoid fantasy of male oppressors and female sex-object victims. Woman is the dominant sex.

    • Camille Paglia,
    • "Madonna II: Venus of the Radio Waves," Sex, Art, and American Culture ()
  • Every year, feminists provide more and more evidence for the old charge that women can neither think nor write.

    • Camille Paglia,
    • "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf," Sex, Art, and American Culture ()
  • If you're feminist, it means that you've noticed that male ownership of the direction of female lives has been the order of the day for a few thousand years, and it isn't natural.

  • Even though I had a good income from my lectures, no one would give me a loan. The insanity almost drove me to sympathize with the feminist movement.

  • I am not a Jew in the synagogue and a feminist in the world. I am a Jewish feminist and a feminist Jew in every moment of my life.

  • ... for me, the beauty of feminism is that it is a social and political movement that has redefined the power and obligation of the self: self-possession and self-regulation as a tool for social reform.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "The Price of Paying Your Own Way," Essays in Feminism ()
  • The full implications of feminism will evolve over time, as we organize, experiment, think, analyze, and revise our ideas and strategies in light of our experiences. No theory emerges in full detail overnight; the dominant theories of our day have expanded and changed over many decades. That it will take time should not discourage us. That we might fail to pursue our ideas — given the enormous need for them in society today — is unconscionable.

  • 'Feminism' has become a term of opprobrium to the modern young woman. For the word suggests either the old school of fighting feminists who wore flat heels and had very little feminine charm, or the current species who antagonize men with their constant clamor about maiden names, equal rights, woman's place in the world, and many another cause ... ad infinitum.

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

    • Florynce R. Kennedy,
    • in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. ()
  • I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist.

  • Sisterhood is powerful.

    • Kathie Sarachild,
    • flier for keynote speech, New York Radical Women action ()
  • [Addressing a group of military officers:] Are you a feminist? Oh ... wrong question. I should have asked, 'Are you a father?' When your daughter loses her job to a clearly less-qualified man, you will discover you are a feminist.

  • The political is personal.

  • The personal is political.

    • Anonymous,
    • women's movement theme, 1970s, in Evelyn Shapiro and Barry M. Shapiro, The Women Say/The Men Say ()
  • Stop telling women to smile.

  • Feminism has fought no wars ... killed no opponents ... set up no concentration camps ... starved no enemies ... practiced no cruelty. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets ... for reforms in the law.

  • Oh, I wish it were in my power to put men in the place of fashionable women for one six months! They should curl their hair, consult the milliner, make spongecake, do a little embroidery, wear long skirts, and dress so tightly that they could scarcely breathe.

    • Lucy Stone,
    • speech, Seventh National Women's Rights Convention ()
  • We are tired of the pretense that we have special privileges and the reality that we have none; of the fiction that we are queens, and the fact that we are subjects.

  • ... woman's cause is one and universal ...

    • Anna Julia Cooper,
    • "The Intellectual Progress of the Colored Woman in the United States Since the Emancipation Proclamation" (1893), in The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper ()
  • Some people ask, 'Why the word "feminist"? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?' Because that would be dishonest. Feminism, is, of course, part of human rights, in general — but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded ... That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human.

  • I was called a feminist, and what I heard was, 'You are an angry, sex-hating, man-hating victim lady person.' This caricature is how feminists have been warped by the people who fear feminism most, the same people who have the most to lose when feminism succeeds.

  • Being a feminist is not how other people treat you, it's how you treat other people.

  • ... feminism is probably the most important movement that you could embrace, because it's just basically another word for equality.

  • We will fail to solve any problem — poverty, peace, sustainable development, health — unless we ... make sure the solution will be good for women.

  • When feminism exploded into my life, it gave me a vision of the world totally different from everything I had ever assumed or hoped.

  • Teaching feminism in high school comes down to one thing: inspiring students to come alive to themselves and the world around them.

  • People misconstrue the word feminism. It is not hating men, or making men small. It is just saying, 'We want our independence to make our own choices the way men have done for so long.'

  • I am a feminist. Cosmo predated the women's movement, and I have always said my message is for the woman who loves men but who doesn't want to live through them.

    • Helen Gurley Brown,
    • in Glenn Collins, "At 60, Helen Gurley Brown Talks About Life and Love," The New York Times ()
  • All my life, I would not conform to the old-fashioned limits they had set on a woman's freedom of action. Or the myth of a woman's need of male wisdom and protection.