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Sex

  • Wherever there is sex, we work to create a relationship that's worthy of it.

  • She introduced me to pleasure—and I have never forgiven her.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • Boredom is often the cause of promiscuity, and always its result.

  • Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man.

  • Of all the things that human beings did together, the sexual act was the one with the most various of reasons.

  • ... if our sex life were determined by our first youthful experiments, most of the world would be doomed to celibacy. In no area of human experience are human beings more convinced that something better can be had if only they persevere.

  • How odd that sex should be so simple and love such a complication.

  • Half the joys and half the sorrows of this world are discovered in bed.

  • [Sex] is something big and cosmic. What else do we have? There's only birth and death and the union of two people — and sex is the only one that happens to us more than once.

  • Another great illusion that woman must ... destroy ... is the impurity of sex, the realisation in defiance of superstition that there is nothing impure in sex — except in the mental attitude toward it ...

    • Mina Loy,
    • "Feminist Manifesto" (1914), in Roger L. Conover, ed., The Lost Lunar Baedecker ()
  • Don't bother discussing sex with small children. They rarely have anything to add.

  • In a business society, the role of sex can be summed up in five pitiful little words. There is money in it.

  • My husband says, 'God, Roseanne, I can't remember the last time we had sex.' Well, I can, and that is why we ain't doing it.

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • My husband says, 'Roseanne, don't you think we ought to talk about our sexual problems?' Like I'm gonna turn off Wheel of Fortune for that.

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • A lot of men are impotent and it's very sad. How many of you are impotent? I see. Can't get your arms up either?

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • The Roseanne Barr Show, in Suzanne Lavin, Women and Comedy in Solo Performance ()
  • Promiscuous ... was a word I had never applied to myself. Possibly no one ever does, for it is a sordid word, reducing many valuable moments to nothing more than doglike copulation.

  • ... people talk about 'sex' as though it hopped about by itself, like a frog!

  • ... sex is important. Aside from its recreational and entertainment possibilities, it has considerable biological significance. The biological significance was there first; the entertainment value came only recently.

  • Sex is really just a three-letter word for the exchange of genetic material.

  • We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it's a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift. Art, real art, comes from it ...

    • Marilyn Monroe,
    • in Richard Meryman, "Marilyn Lets Her Hair Down About Being Famous," Life ()
  • No one, but no one, ever behaves 'well' in bed unless they love or are loved — two conditions seldom fulfilled.

  • Feminism seeks to turn the biggest, bloodiest carnivore in the world — passion — into a right-on cud-chewing vegan. It can never work. Sex was never meant to be that way. Sex, on the whole, was meant to be short, nasty and brutish. If what you want is cuddling, you should buy a puppy.

  • Now the whole dizzying range of sexual possibilities has been boiled down to that one big, boring, bulimic word: relationship.

  • There is no instinct that has been so maligned, suppressed, abused, and distorted by religious teaching as the instinct of sex.

  • [On masturbation:] I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.

  • It is surely sex, not religion, which is the opium of the people.

  • It's pitch, sex is. Once you touch it, it clings to you.

  • As I grew to adolescence, I imagined, from closely observing the boredom and vexations of matrimony, that the act my parents committed and the one I so longed to commit must be two different things.

  • Sex gets people killed, put in jail, beaten up, bankrupted, and disgraced, to say nothing of ruined — personally, politically, and professionally. Looking for sex can lead to misfortune, and if you get lucky and find it, it can leave you maimed, infected, or dead. Other than that, it's swell: the great American pastime. ... You probably won't see it on a bumper sticker, but sex kills.

  • Men give love because they want sex. Women give sex because they want love. That's the difference between men and women. Ever notice how when we talk about our love lives, it's always about a man? Singular. All most of us want is one good man. But when men talk, it's about women. Plural. They want as many as they can get.

  • Doesn't she know nothing fucks up good fucking like booze and anger?

  • Sex is every man's loco spot ... he'll take a disappointment, but not a humiliation.

  • Passion's a good, stupid horse that will pull the plough six days a week if you give him the run of his heels on Sundays. But love's a nervous, awkward, over-mastering brute; if you can't rein him, it's best to have no truck with him.

  • An old body when it is loved becomes a sacred treasure; and sex itself must always, it seems to me, come to us as a sacrament and be so used or it is meaningless. The flesh is suffused by the spirit, and it is forgetting this in the act of love-making that creates cynicism and despair.

  • In America sex is an obsession. In Europe it's a fact of life.

  • It's surely one of the strange phenomena of this decade that the most thoughtful gift you can bring a date is not flowers, chocolates, or ankle-length pearls, but a note from your doctor.

  • Sex is probably the most fun you can have in life without gaining weight or having a hangover the next day.

  • Sex is not some sort of pristine, reverent ritual. You want reverent and pristine, go to church.

  • No, it's not just you. No one is getting laid.

  • The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not 'taking' and the woman is not 'giving.' No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn.

  • Sex is God's joke on the human race ... if we didn't have sex to make us ridiculous, She would have had to think up something else instead.

  • Sex has the unparalleled power to make us absurd to ourselves. It also has the power to make us understand transcendence.

  • I can't mate in captivity.

  • ... my Mamá Grande, a tiny Mayan woman, took me aside when I was an adolescent and told me several things that didn't make a bit of sense to my young and inattentive ears, and as young people tend to waste all attempts of our elders to relay to us wisdom accumulated over the decades, I thought my Mamá Grande had a few mice in the attic.

  • Sex and religion are bordering states. They use the same vocabulary, share like ecstasies, and often serve as a substitute for one another.

  • A freak is basically anyone who needs fantasy, degradation, or punishment in order to achieve his interpretation of erotic gratification.

  • I might not be a psychiatrist, but I am convinced that sex is not as important as we tend to make it. First there is that little feeling, that little red flame, called love. Blow on the flame and make it get bigger like a fire, don't blow it out like a candle.

  • I think that in the sexual act, as delightful as it can be, the very physical part of it is, yes, a hammering away. So it has a certain brutality.

  • She knew, even though she was too young to know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective sex were possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil.

  • ... I consider promiscuity immoral. Not because sex is evil, but because sex is too good and too important ...

  • Sex divorced from love is the thief of personal dignity.

  • Sexual pessimism and hostility toward the pleasures of the flesh are a legacy from the ancient world which Christianity has preserved in a special measure to this day.

  • Sex is an aspect of human existence that has fallen prey in special measure to a very special form of theological science: the theological outgrowth or offshoot known as moral theology. Its biblical foundations are meager in the sense that nothing of the kind exists in the New Testament, so it has had to achieve its ambition largely by dint of its own efforts.

  • Confronted by a Church that has ceased to manifest God's mercy and intimate connection with humankind — that has converted Christ into a grim and joyless adjunct to the policing of bedrooms and marital intercourse — men and women can no longer see themselves as beloved of God, only as impure and reprehensible.

  • If sex is a war, I am a conscientious objector: I will not play.

  • All the Freudian system is impregnated with the prejudice which it makes it its mission to fight — the prejudice that everything sexual is vile.

  • Truly, a little love-making is a very pleasant thing ...

  • One could plausibly argue that it is for quite sound reasons that the whole capacity for sexual ecstasy is inaccessible to most people — given that sexuality is something, like nuclear energy, which may prove amenable to domestication through scruple, but then again may not.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "The Pornographic Imagination," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • There are some elements in life — above all, sexual pleasure — about which it isn't necessary to have a position.

  • On the level of simple sensation and mood, making love surely resembles an epileptic fit at least as much as, if not more than, it does eating a meal or conversing with someone.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "The Pornographic Imagination," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • [On Elizabeth Taylor:] Every time she gets laid she gets married. Nobody told her you can do it and stay single.

    • Lillian Hellman,
    • in Peter Feibleman, Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman ()
  • Sexual pleasure is not a sin. Nor is it a sacrament. It is your right as a human being to exercise as you see fit. It's amazing that I feel the need to say this, but, given our times, I do.

  • Lovemaking surely must be, for human beings at our present state of development, one of the more private enterprises. Who would want a witness to that entire self-abandonment and helplessness?

    • Katherine Anne Porter,
    • "A Wreath for the Gamekeeper" (1960), The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings ()
  • ... that pathetic short-cut suggested by Nature the supreme joker as a remedy for our loneliness, that ephemeral communion which we persuade ourselves to be of the spirit when it is in fact only of the body — durable not even in memory!

  • Sex, which ought to be an incident of life, is the obsession of the well-fed world.

  • I like a man what takes his time.

  • Reason was nowhere, time was an immovable object nailed high on the wall, except where the world kept shop.

  • ... all pleasures should be taken in great leisure and are worth going into in detail; love is not like eating a quick lunch with one's hat on.

  • Sex is an emotion in motion.

    • Mae West,
    • in Diane Arbus, "Mae West: Emotion in Motion," Show ()
  • Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

    • Mae West,
    • in Joseph Weintraub, Peel Me a Grape ()
  • An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.

    • Mae West,
    • in George Eells and Stanley Musgrove, Mae West ()
  • Electric flesh-arrows ... traversing the body. A rainbow of color strikes the eye-lids. A foam of music falls over the ears. It is the gong of the orgasm.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1937, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • You mustn't force sex to do the work of love or love to do the work of sex — that's quite a thought, isn't it?

  • Making love, we are all more alike than we are when we are talking or acting.

  • Sex annihilates identity, and the space given to sex in contemporary novels is an avowal of the absence of character.

  • But lust too is a jewel / a sweet flower ...

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Two Songs," Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law ()
  • 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.

  • ... the message about sex and relationships that she had gotten as a child ... was confused, contradictory. Sex was for men, and marriage, like lifeboats, was for women and children.

  • There's no healthy life possible without some sensual feeling between the husband and wife, but there's nothing in the world more awful than married life when it's the only common ground.

  • ... even a notary would notarize our bed / as you knead me and I rise like bread.

  • The act of sex, gratifying as it may be, is God's joke on humanity. It is man's last desperate stand at superintendency.

  • In an age in which greed and lust stalk the land like some Biblical plague, it is easy to view sex as just one more thing to be had. It is the mythos of moderns.

  • ... sex is like sandwiches, there has to be something in between.

  • Sex is perhaps like culture — a luxury that only becomes an art after generations of leisurely acquaintance. Why we scarcely approach either as individuals — it's mass propulsion still!

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1953, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • If sexuality means saying yes to life, then you should be able to remain sexual until the day you die.

  • Our general attitude toward life and our attitude toward sexuality cannot be separated. We cannot choose where we will build strongly and where we will disregard, for all the threads interweave to make the human pattern.

  • Sex is like money — very nice to have but vulgar to talk about.

    • Tonia Berg,
    • in Michèle Brown and Ann O'Connor, Woman Talk, vol. 1 ()
  • Sex isn't everything. While most marital experts today agree with this statement, most men don't. Generally, men agree that the only thing more important than sex is — not getting it.

  • I may not be a great actress but I've become the greatest at screen orgasms. Ten seconds of heavy breathing, roll your head from side to side, simulate a slight asthma attack and die a little.

  • These days, you fuck someone, your arm drops off.

  • I married a Kraut. Every night I get dressed up as Poland and he invades me.

    • Bette Midler,
    • in Mark Bego, Bette Midler: Still Divine ()
  • Aren't women prudes if they don't and prostitutes if they do?

  • ... if we're going to have sexual role models, it should be the women who enjoy sex the most, not the women who get paid the most to enact it.

  • This was a very racy remark for Gladys, whose idea of wild sex was Fred Astaire loosening his tie.

  • ... sex is the instrument and love the music ...

  • Love is music, and sex is only the instrument...

  • I am not especially defined by my sex life, nor complete without it.

  • It was an old quandary for them. He needed sex in order to feel connected to her, and she needed to feel connected to him in order to enjoy sex.

  • Writing about sex turns out to be just writing about life.


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  • In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.

    • ,
    • "Fantasies," Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women ()
  • Marriage without sex is a cruel joke. You have the intimacy of living together without the intimacy of the bond that defies all rational thought — sex.

  • ... sex is a commodity just like anything else.

  • I think it's terribly difficult to take sex seriously if you've got a sense of humor.

  • Most mothers think that to keep young people away from lovemaking, it is enough never to mention it in front of them.

  • Masturbation never got anybody pregnant, does not make anybody go crazy, and what we're about is preventing HIV in our bright young people.

    • Joycelyn Elders,
    • in Laura Flanders, "Dr. Joycelyn Elders: Marijuana, Masturbation and Medicine," The Nation ()
  • No wonder guys peak sexually at eighteen. It's not sex at all — it's human communication. It's the first time they ever talked to anybody!

  • I didn't have my first orgasm until I was 76 years old. I hadn't had sex for the previous 16 years so I was a virgin again. He was 20.

    • Claire Goll,
    • in Marcel Cordier, La Lorraine des Écrivains ()
  • Love is love, Sara. Gender is merely spare parts.

  • People have been talking about sex as long as they've been having it.

  • From our earliest beginnings, we have been a nation obsessed with sex, titillated by it at the same time that we fear it, elaborating rules to contain it at the same time that we violate them.

  • ... there's always a crowd in the marriage bed — at the very least, the two lovers and the internalized representation of the parents of their childhood, ghosts of mothers and fathers who hover over the action and stir thoughts and feelings long ago pushed out of consciousness.

  • For sex to be wholly satisfying, we must have at least as much concern for a partner as for self — a requirement that doesn't live comfortably alongside the exhortation to 'do your own thing.' In the end, we are left with an extraordinarily heightened set of expectations about the possibilities in human relationships that lives side by side with disillusion that, for many, borders on despair.

  • Interesting, isn't it, that even though more than two and a half decades have passed since the sexual revolution brought women a new measure of sexual freedom, there's still no word in the language that doesn't reek with pejorative connotation to describe a woman who has sex freely. Since language frames thought and sets its limits, this is not a trivial matter. For without a word that describes without condemning, it's hard to think about it neutrally as well. When we say the words 'promiscuous woman,' therefore, it's a statement about her character, not just her sexual behavior.

  • ... we are a society of people who have learned to look on Eros with apprehension, if not outright fear. For us, it is associated with passion, with sex, with forces that shout danger because they seem to be out of our control. This, I believe, is what makes the very idea of Eros seem so dangerous to family life, what motivates us to confine and contain it. Consequently, our young learn very early, and in ways too subtle and numerous to recount, about the need to limit the erotic, about our fears that Eros imperils civilization.

  • We need only look at the language we use about men, women and sex to understand the differences. Men score, they make it, they collect notches — language that connotes conquest and accomplishment. Women are seduced, they're taken, they give up their virginity — words that suggest submission and loss. He's the actor, she the acted-upon. He gains status; she loses it as she gives up this socially prized commodity. He's a stud; she's too easy, a slut.

  • Whatever else we may say about sex, it is at least as much a social and psychological phenomenon as it is a biological one.

  • Sexual freedom is about choice. It's the freedom to say no as well as yes.

  • I've only slept with the men I've been married to. How many women can make that claim?

    • Elizabeth Taylor,
    • in Joseph Papa, Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend ()
  • [Sexual] fantasies, like children, are most interesting to the people who have them.

  • Archie had been no good as a dancer. He had trundled her about. She ought to have been warned by that; for dancing and sex were linked ... and Archie, she had soon discovered trundled through sex.

  • ... I don't like sex ... I'm a single working mom with nine cats, a dog-shark, a lizard, and a bunny. I don't go to bed, I pass out. The idea that I'd get to my bed and there'd be someone in there with whom I was supposed to have an activity is horrifying to me.

  • After sex, men fear too much intimacy; they want to separate again. Women want to talk, to continue the merging, melting fusion into one. Postcoital conversations keep the woman's power alive. Through unconscious severance, by falling asleep, the man regains his self.

  • Sexuality is the great field of battle between biology and society.

  • Sexuality is a sacrament.

  • [On entering the restaurant business:] Food has the dubious advantage of being legitimate, and one's customers somehow manage to live longer without sex than food, if you call that living.

  • Nothing can more totally subdue the passions than familial piety.

    • Jean Stafford,
    • "The Liberation," The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford ()
  • Sex: In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact.

  • In Europe it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. We make love with anyone we find attractive.

  • A whore is a woman who does it for money, which seems to me much more understandable than to do it for free.

  • Love is very funny business. And sex — well, let's face it, sex is hysterical.

  • Desire is boundless, and boundlessness frightens us.

  • Passions are the speech of our bodies, they are our vitality speaking.

  • It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.

  • As to sex, the original pleasure, I cannot recommend too highly the advantages of androgyny.

  • Sex as something beautiful may soon disappear. Once it was a knife so finely honed the edge was invisible until it was touched and then it cut deep. Now it is so blunt that it merely bruises and leaves ugly marks.

  • The wedding night! The comedies, the tragedies, the subterfuges, the unexpecteds, the misunderstandings, the surprises, and the joys! These are the unpublished stories of centuries.

  • Sex is the tabasco sauce which an adolescent national palate sprinkles on every course in the menu.

  • Never expect anybody — except possibly your analyst — to be as thrilled about your sex life as you are.

  • If I had to choose between sex and food, I would choose food, but I'd choose sex over nearly everything else.

  • Sex is important. Sex is one of the three best things we have — I don't even know what the other two are. It connects you with life.

  • How are capitalists supposed to market their stuff if people aren't actively pursuing sex? How are they supposed to sell cars, clothes, beers, breakfast cereal, perfume, makeup, or travel on the premise that their products will get you laid if people are content to not get laid? So the market pulls out all the stops to ensure that we will remain sex-obsessed, so that we'll buy things. Businesses want virgins to feel horrible about themselves, because if virgins were happy being virgins, they would be horrible consumers. As long as they are virgins desperately trying to ditch their virginity, fine. But abstinence undermines economics.

  • If you have been having 'sexual problems' lately, you have probably been too embarrassed to talk about them, except to six or seven close friends at a public restaurant, or in a department store buying porch furniture.

  • ... each coming together of man and wife, even if they have been mated for many years, should be a fresh adventure; each winning should necessitate a fresh wooing.

  • An impersonal and scientific knowledge of the structure of our bodies is the surest safe-guard against prurient curiosity and lascivious gloating.

  • We've surrounded the most vital and commonplace human function with a vast morass of taboos, convention, hypocrisy, and plain claptrap.

  • ... I didn't want it like that. Not against the bricks or hunkering in somebody's car. I wanted it come undone like gold thread, like a tent full of birds.

  • You cannot escape sex. It will track you to the ends of the earth.

    • Jan Clausen,
    • "Depending," Mother, Sister, Daughter, Lover ()
  • ... a lot of brothers don't understand. When it comes to making love, reciprocity is everything.

  • ... nobody dies from lack of sex. It's lack of love we die from.

  • He spoke of 'going in' the way she'd heard old veterans in TV documentaries speak of assaults on enemy territory. ... Except that what he would be going into was her body.

  • ... men demand everything and are not satisfied until sex blinds them into thinking they have got it.

  • What daughter thinks of her parents in flagrante delicto? Yet, my mother, even after years with him, dropped hints such as, 'You know, your father enjoys his matinees.' I never even saw them go to the movies together. What could she mean? All those afternoons, I thought she was upstairs listening to La Traviata, and those high notes apparently were not coming from the radio.

  • Sex deepens love and love deepens sex, so physical intimacy transforms everything and playing with it is playing with fire.

  • You can, after all, produce an orgasm yourself if that's what you want, so we must go to bed for something more.

  • Girls gave sex to get love and boys gave love to get sex and conning girls was the favorite indoor sport.

  • Sex is a short cut to everything.

  • Sex, to Eileen, is basically what you do to avoid an argument.

  • There is a great difference between satisfaction and satiation.

  • [On sex:] ... the total deprivation of it produces irritability.

  • It is a well-established fact that in healthy loving women, uninjured by the too frequent lesions which result from childbirth, increasing physical satisfaction attaches to the ultimate physical expression of love. ... Love between the sexes is the highest and mightiest form of human sexual passion.

  • When I was fifteen I believed that sex was nearly the same thing as softball.

    • Lucy Jane Bledsoe,
    • "State of Grace," in Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle, eds., Women on Women 2 ()
  • If sex isn't a joke, what is it?

    • Nella Larsen,
    • "Passing" (1929), An Intimation of Things Distant ()
  • As for that topsy-turvy tangle known as soixante-neuf, personally I have always felt it to be madly confusing, like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.

  • Whatever else can be said about sex, it cannot be called a dignified performance.

  • There is nothing that impairs a man's sexual performance quicker than any suggestion that he's not doing it right ('Not there, you idiot!') ...

  • ... one woman ... claimed that with her eyes alone she could bring a man to the verge of climax. She did it by looking directly into his eyes and concentrating, like Uri Geller bending a fork. (In fact, I don't know why I'm being so coy about it. It was me.)

  • All you can do is mumble. / You've made me all wet and slippery, / But no matter how hard you try / Nothing happens. So stop. / Go and make somebody else / Unsatisfied.

    • Huang O,
    • c. 1525, "To the tune ''Red Embroidered Shoes'," in Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, trans., eds., The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China ()
  • Sexuality ... is at the same time the most personal of realms and also the realm most carefully constrained by social order.

  • [On being asked, 'Did you ever say that an actress needs to be able to laugh and to cry and that when you need to laugh you think of your sex life and when you need to cry you think of your sex life?':] No.

  • The important thing in acting is to be able to laugh and cry. If I have to cry, I think of my sex life. If I have to laugh, I think of my sex life.

  • ... sex creates optimism. It seems to insinuate life in the future, even when procreation is not the point.

  • ... sexuality ... is a doorway to the higher realms of transcendent consciousness.

  • [On swingers:] They have gone from Puritanism into promiscuity without passing through sensuality.

  • The largesse / Of all our love is a down-curving arc / That ends in sleeping, lest we rouse to mark / How all our fires go out in nothingness.

    • Ruth Benedict,
    • "For the Hour After Love," in Margaret Mead, An Anthropologist at Work: Writings of Ruth Benedict ()
  • ... love lay like a mirage through the golden gates of sex.

  • Sex is something we are, not something we do.

  • The more sex becomes a non-issue in people's lives, the happier they are.

  • Sex is hardly ever just about sex.

  • The only way for a relationship to survive, I think, is to have no sex at all. After all, you marry for friendship, for companionship — and passion after a while ... pfffft. I mean, does it excite you when your left hand touches your right?

  • I was wondering today what the religion of the country is — and all I could come up with is sex.

  • Hickeys are like PG-13 movies. You think they're pretty hot stuff after being limited to G and PG, but you never bother with them once you're seriously into R.

  • ... we are beginning to understand that this instinct of sex which has been so great a cause of suffering and shame and has been treated as a subject fit only for furtive whispers or silly jokes, is in fact one of the greatest powers in human nature, and that its misuse is indeed 'the expense of spirit in a waste of shame.'

  • I love sex as much as I love music, and I think it's as hard to do.

  • [On her marriage:] I know, as certainly as I live, that I have been, for twelve years, as passionate a lover as ever woman was, and hope to be so one twelve years more.

  • Sex — the great inequality, the great miscalculator, the great Irritator.

  • [After seeing a nude show:] ... there's more sex on the ball field when the guys scratch than in the whole of this.

  • Sex was a pleasurable form of exercise, like dancing.

    • Josephine Baker,
    • in Phyllis Rose, Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time ()
  • Being a sex symbol has to do with an attitude, not looks. Most men think it's looks, most women know otherwise.

  • A mutual and satisfied sexual act is of great benefit to the average woman, the magnetism of it is health giving. When it is not desired on the part of the woman and she has no response, it should not take place. This is an act of prostitution and is degrading to the woman's finer sensibility, all the marriage certificates on earth to the contrary notwithstanding.

  • The trilogy composed of politics, religion and sex is the most sensitive of all issues in any society.

  • The Duke returned from the wars today and did pleasure me in his top-boots.

  • The real problem betewen the sexes is that for men, sex is a gender-underliner, they need it for their egos. We don't need sex to make us feel we are the person we need to be.

  • Sexuality is a justice issue. Sexuality and spirituality for me are inseparable. ... Intimacy is a call to communion, to share life. It is violence to cut tenderness off.

    • Cathy Manion-Norgard,
    • in Mary Pinney Erickson and Betty Kling, eds., Streams From the Sacred River ()
  • The main problem in marriage is that, for a man, sex is a hunger — like eating. If a man is hungry and can't get to a fancy French restaurant, he'll go to a hot dog stand.

  • ... love is the drug which ... makes sexuality palatable in popular mythology.

  • ... continuing sexual interest and perfect sexual adjustment between partners who have been together for thirty years is so difficult and rare that no one should feel guilty or inadequate for not having managed it.

  • No sex is better than bad sex.

  • ... it is probably a truism that the end of one's sexual career is as incompetent as the beginning ...

  • Women have to be in the mood for sex. Men have to be breathing.

  • No bill of sexual rights can hold its own against the lawless, untamable landscape of the erotic imagination.

  • Everyone lies about sex, more or less, to themselves if not to others, to others if not to themselves, exaggerating its importance or minimizing its pull.

    • Daphne Merkin,
    • in Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel, eds., Out of the Garden ()
  • [When asked at what age a woman ceases to feel the torments of the flesh:] I do not know, I am only sixty-five.

  • One thing we Older Women have learned, however, is that guys are simple contraptions. They like sex, and they like it when their women like it, and that's about it. Younger women tend to make things more complicated. They worry far too much about cellulite. Basically, if you're naked and smiling, men are pretty happy.

  • When women discovered the orgasm it was, combined with modern birth control, perhaps the biggest single nail in the coffin of male dominance.

  • Really, sex and laughter do go very well together, and I wondered — and still do — which is the more important.

  • Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women.

  • You think intercourse is a private act; it's not, it's a social act. Men are sexually predatory in life; and women are sexually manipulative. When two individuals come together and leave their gender outside the bedroom door, then they make love. If they take it inside with them, they do something else, because society is in the room with them.

  • No woman needs intercourse; few women escape it.

  • It's smart to be friends with one's sex partner but dumb to have sex with one's friends.

  • ... we all grow up thinking our parents found us under cabbage leaves and that sex didn't exist before our personal coming-of-age.

  • Sex is just another real good drug ... and it can make a junkie out of you.

  • All forms of sexual loving become acceptable if the lovers wear togas or wolfskins.

  • A lady once longed to be wild / But kept herself quite undefiled — / By thinking of Jesus / And veneral diseases — / And the danger of having a child.

    • Rebecca West,
    • 1925, in Bonnie Kime Scott, ed., Selected Letters of Rebecca West ()
  • [On sexologist Alfred Kinsey:] I don't see much of him anymore since he got so interested in sex.

  • Nothing is more complicated than sex. Nor anything so beautifully simple.

  • Dr. Ruth says we women should tell our lovers how to make love to us. My boyfriend goes nuts if I tell him how to drive!

    • Pam Stone,
    • in Roz Warren, ed., Glibquips ()
  • For guys, sex is like going to a restaurant. No matter what they order off that menu, they walk out saying, 'Damn! That was good!' For women, it don't work like that. We go to the restaurant; sometimes it's good, sometimes you got to send it back ... Or you might go, 'I think I'm going to cook for myself today.'

  • We're still a sexophobic society, afraid of the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

  • Honey, sex doesn't stop until you're in the grave.

  • [On Henry Kissinger:] Henry's idea of sex is to slow the car down to thirty miles an hour when he drops you off at the door.

  • with each touch of you / i am fresh bread / warm and rising.

  • Sex when you're married is like going to a 7-Eleven. There's not as much variety, but at three in the morning it's always there.

  • We don't say a man's ill if he's crazy about sex, if he can't get enough sex. Why should a woman be different?

  • We are on a sexual binge in this country. ... One consequence of this binge is that while people now get into bed more readily and a lot more naturally than they once did, what happens there often seems less important.

  • The price of shallow sex may be a corresponding loss of capacity for deep love.

  • Back when I had only one child, and that child was just a baby, I didn't see the necessity of making time for intimacy. I was in a state so neutered by childbearing and nursing that I honestly couldn't remember why a man and a woman would engage in anything so physically ridiculous as the sexual act except to propagate the species — and I was done with all that.

  • Sex is still the leading cause of pregnancy.

  • Another of the areas of difference between the sex act of men and women is distraction. Not much, short of ridicule or a gun barrel between his eyes, can distract a man during the act of love. There is very little in civilization that won't distract a woman and rob her of her joy.

  • ... first let me discuss sex in marriage. It's a relationship potentially as lovely and as lethal as a rope bridge over a chasm ...

  • I am happy now that Charles calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old. As it is, I endure but two calls a week and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England.

  • All too many men still seem to believe, in a rather naïve and egocentric way, that what feels good to them is automatically what feels good to women.

  • Men don't realize that if we're sleeping with them on the first date, we're probably not interested in seeing them again either.

  • Seeing your mother naked is not something you easily recover from. Seeing your mother naked and jumping from one side of a king-sized bed to the other with a nurse's hat on while your father, who is also naked, is chasing her with a bandanna around his neck, is reason to put yourself up for adoption.

  • Remember when 'Safe Sex' meant your parents had gone away for the weekend?

  • Sex is never an emergency.

  • Sex is a game, a weapon, a toy, a joy, a trance, an enlightenment, a loss, a hope.

  • Sexual acts are one of the primary means by which we can act out our inarticulated inner lives.

  • The sex that is presented to us in everyday culture feels strange to me; its images are fragments, lifeless, removed from normal experience. Real sex, the sex in our cells and in the space between our neurons, leaks out and gets into things and stains our vision and colors our lives.

  • [Some] guys make love like they were the only ones in the room, which I think is a holdover from when they were.

    • Diane Nichols,
    • in Mary Unterbrink, Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 ()
  • I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me.

  • Lust is the oldest lion of them all ...

  • Today when two people decide upon a thoughtless and precipitate abbreviation of the physical space between them, they think, at least at that moment, that they're mutually attracted and drawn together by an overwhelming force.

  • Sex ... is the fountain of life, therefore of all power. It follows logically that if the church can control sex she controls everything.

    • Lois Waisbrooker,
    • 1909, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Sex is the fountain of all life, therefore of all power; and what has been the result of human law daring to say in what channel this life may flow if at all? Woman may be thus suppressed, but not man.

    • Lois Waisbrooker,
    • 1909, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Sex is such a personal thing — why do we insist on sharing it with another person?

  • What isn't funny about sex?

  • Sex appeal is in your head and heart. I'll be sexy no matter how old or how my body changes.

    • Sônia Braga,
    • in Ronald Warren Deutsch, ed., Inspirational Hollywood ()
  • Whatever a man thinks about sex, you can be sure that he thinks about sex almost constantly.

  • Sex and love are like tea and milk. They can be mixed or they can be taken straight. Each has certain distinctive characteristics, but when they are combined they form a unique substance.

  • The idea of the mistress is fundamentally embarrassing. ... It is not just the secrecy and deception, it is the playing of a preordained role, which is based on the assumption that what women want is to be adored and showered with gifts and that what men want is to have an eternally available playmate while not giving freely of themselves. It is not very flattering to either sex.

  • Most people are not taught to understand that the two o'clock orgasm leads to the three o'clock feeding.

  • ... where the bedroom is wrong the whole house is wrong.

  • Between 50 and 60, sex is out there. If you want it, you can connect. After 60, you have to supply the sled, the snow and the dog team.

    • Anonymous,
    • in Helen Gurley Brown, "Don't Give Up on Sex After 60," Newsweek ()
  • Women complain about sex more often than men. Their gripes fall into two major categories: (1) Not enough. (2) Too much.

  • I think that sex should be done, but unlike justice, not seen to be done!

    • Evelyn Laye,
    • in Dick Richards, ed., The Curtain Rises: An Anthology of the International Theatre ()
  • [When asked why, despite her many infidelities, her five children all resembled her husband:] That is because passengers are never allowed on board until the hold is full.

    • Julia Agrippa,
    • in Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes ()
  • With women the best aphrodisiac is words. ... It may be that the only way we will listen is if someone whispers in our ear. The G spot is in the ears, and anyone who goofs around looking for it farther down is wasting his time and ours.

  • I think that sex is God's joke on human beings.

    • Bette Davis,
    • in Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex-Fan Magazine Writer ()
  • How many women here like to have sex in the morning? Now how many like to be awake when it happens?

  • His idea of oral sex is talking about himself.

    • Lisa Cofield,
    • in Lisa Cofield, Debbie Dingerson, and Leah Rush, Mrs. Murphy's Laws ()
  • The fact is that heterosexual sex for most people is in no way free of the power relations between men and women.

    • Barbara Ehrenreich,
    • in Evelyn Shapiro and Barry M. Shapiro, The Women Say/The Men Say ()
  • ... the human need for love and sex is made to bear the burden of all our bodily starvation for contact and sensation, all our creative starvation, all our need for social contact, and even our need to find meaning in our lives.

    • Deidre English,
    • in Evelyn Shapiro and Barry M. Shapiro, The Women Say/The Men Say ()
  • A little coitus wouldn't hoitus.

    • Anonymous,
    • graffiti from women's restroom, in Ms. ()
  • The Duke returned from the wars today and did pleasure me in his top-boots.

  • The thing about sex is not that you're naked physically, but if you do it right, that you're naked emotionally.

  • Sex is ... scratching an itch Everything else is something we project on a very simple act. It's the psychology, not the biology, that's complicated.

  • For me, celibacy is freedom to come and go wherever and whenever I'm called, and not the lonely consequence of no marriage, no children, and no lover.

  • The only thing worse than the first time they had sex was the second time they had sex.

  • Sex without love is a cancerous cigarette we willingly smoke.

  • There is more to sex appeal than just measurements. I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.

    • Audrey Hepburn,
    • in Sara McEwen, Audrey Hepburn: Biography of Hollywood's Greatest Movie Actress ()
  • [On sex:] I came from a generation where you knew nothing; you learned by doing. My old joke was: 'I thought you took turns moving.'

    • Joan Rivers,
    • in "20 Questions: Joan Rivers," Playboy ()
  • [Line to stage husband who promises to keep 'a stiff upper lip':] Well, honey, you gotta start someplace.

  • To have a good sex life, you have to make your life in general more interesting.

  • In American culture ... sex has existed in a kind of haze: It has been everywhere, and yet, in a more meaningful way, it has been nowhere. It has often been discussed, when it has been discussed at all, in language that is coded and furtive, its warm truths concealed under a network of strategically desiccated fig leaves. It has been rendered as images that flicker on distant screens. It has been outsourced to marketers who have promptly converted it into a sales proposition. It has been decided on our behalf.

    • Megan Garber,
    • "'The Goddess of Good Sex'," The Atlantic ()
  • [To a male caller who says, 'If a woman is frigid, what happens if you —':] Whoa! Hold it! That word you can’t say on my program. There’s no more ‘frigid woman.’

  • The only sex education my mother ever gave me was the injunction: 'Never let a boy touch you down there.' I had no idea what she meant. She seemed to be referring to my knees.

  • Home ec has gone the way of health class, where we learned you could get it from a doorknob.

  • They say teaching sex education in the public schools will promote promiscuity. With our educational system? If we promote promiscuity the same way we promote math or science, they've got nothing to worry about.

  • Before the child ever gets to school it will have received crucial, almost irrevocable sex education and this will have been taught by the parents, who are not aware of what they are doing.

  • An unlighted open fireplace, little more than a pile of wood and kindling, is a place in which children may play safely until a burning match is applied to it. Then the inert mass is transformed into a flaming source of heat and light; a hazard to those who ignorantly would handle it. I like to compare the grate, piled high with unburned logs, to sex education from which no damage can come until the igniting match of sex awakening kindles a fire — a force that demands understanding to curb and direct its heat.

  • Current research indicates that children who are well-informed and comfortable in talking with their parents about sexuality are least likely to have sexual intercourse when they are adolescents. Knowledge does not lead to inappropriate behavior, ignorance does.

  • American teens have the worst of all worlds ... Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate.

    • Faye Wattleton,
    • in Barbara A. Reynolds, And Still We Rise: Interviews With 50 Black Role Models ()
  • ... our teacher had given the impression that the body from waist to groin was occupied only by a neatly drawn pelvic girdle, though organs abounded elsewhere.

  • Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

  • As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers — a great pity on both counts.

  • Of my two 'handicaps,' being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.

  • Tremendous amounts of talent are being lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.

  • Lots of men hate women now-a-days. ... It was a man-made world, and now we're asking to go shares in the making.

  • ... our republican ideas cannot be consistently carried out while women are excluded from any share in the government. ... Any class of human beings to whom a position of perpetual subordination is assigned, however much they may be petted and flattered, must inevitably be dwarfed, morally and intellectually.

  • If there is one specific time during the year that my spirits and coincidentally my bosoms are at their lowest, it is the day the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue comes out. (By the way, wearing swimsuits is a sport like ketchup is a vegetable ... )

  • The origin of the stupid ideal of womanhood against which men as well as women to-day are still fighting was the asceticism of the Christian religion; and, unless St. Paul was a woman in disguise, I fail to see how woman is to be blamed for a conception of her place and duty from which she has suffered more than anybody else.

  • Every time she [mother Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Indian ambassador] delivered a speech, however serious and thoughtful, her attire merited more space in the papers than what she had said: ' ... and her hair caused many of the newspaper women present to sigh with a tinge of envy. Silvery and cut short, but not too short, with curls softly about her ears, it lies in smooth undulating waves about her well-shaped head. A type of coiffure most women dream of but seldom achieve.' 'In case you are interested, children,' she told us disconsolately, 'this was not the Hairdressers' Convention. It was the Women's National Press Club, and incidentally I made a serious speech. I hope someone was listening.'

  • And now the Nurse knew why she disliked church services, for as she raised her head, she observed that the Curate, and the Rector and the Archbishop were all men. The vergers were men; the organist was a man; the choir boys, the sidesmen and soloist and church wardens, all were men. The architects who had built the church, the composers of the music, the translators of the psalms, the compilers of the liturgy, all these too, the Nurse pondered, had been men.

    • Winifred Holtby,
    • "Nurse to the Archbishop" (1931), Truth Is Not Sober ()
  • ' ... Men always say there is no female Shakespeare.' 'Humph! You study the fellows who say that, and you'll see they are a long way from being Shakespeares themselves. Why shouldn't women have the same privilege?'

  • Men have to be reminded that women exist.

    • Eleanor Roosevelt,
    • on a list she gave to President Kennedy of women qualified for high-level jobs, in Judith Paterson, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt ()
  • It is a sad paradox that when male authors impersonate women ... they are said to be dealing with 'cosmic, major concerns' — but when we impersonate ourselves we are said to be writing 'women's fiction' or 'women's poetry.'

  • Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.

  • In a world not made for women, criticism and ridicule follow us all the days of our lives. Usually they are indications that we are doing something right.

  • During years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country, I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places and turned away from apartment rentals. All for the clearly stated, sole reason that I am a woman.

  • There are times when a woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "What 'Playboy' Doesn't Know About Women Could Fill a Book," in McCall's ()
  • No man can call himself liberal, or radical, or even a conservative advocate of fair play, if his work depends in any way on the unpaid or underpaid labor of women at home, or in the office.

  • Women get hit with a double whammy. If they're attractive, they're presumed to have slept their way to the top. If they're unattractive, they are presumed to have chosen a profession because they could not get a man.

  • The most common characteristic of women's history is to be lost and discovered, lost again and rediscovered, lost once more and re-rediscovered — a process of tragic waste and terrible silences that will continue until women's stories are a full and equal part of the human story.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • introduction, in Bonnie Watkins and Nina Rothchild, eds., In the Company of Women ()
  • ... anything being perceived as being superior takes the noun. And everything that isn't, that's judged to be inferior, requires an adjective. So there are black novelists and novelists. There are women physicians and physicians. Male nurses and nurses.

  • This world taught woman nothing skillful and then said her work was valueless. It permitted her no opinions and said she did not know how to think. It forbade her to speak in public, and said the sex had no orators.

    • Carrie Chapman Catt,
    • in Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 ()
  • ... it was the United States which first established general suffrage for men upon the two principles that 'taxation without representation is tyranny' and that governments to be just should 'derive their consent from the governed.' The unanswerable logic of these two principles is responsible for the extension of suffrage to men and women the world over. In the United States, however, women are still taxed without 'representation' and still live under a government to which they have given no 'consent.'

  • To get that word, male, out of the Constitution, cost the women of this country fifty-two years of pauseless campaign; 56 state referendum campaigns; 480 legislative campaigns to get state suffrage amendments submitted; 47 state constitutional convention campaigns; 277 state party convention campaigns; 30 national party convention campaigns to get suffrage planks in the party platforms; 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses to get the federal amendment submitted, and the final ratification campaign.

  • Had I been crested, not cloven, my Lords, you had not treated me thus.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • to courtiers, in Nigel Nicolson, Portrait of a Marriage ()
  • Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet, / In short, my deary, kiss me! and be quiet.

    • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,
    • "A Summary of Lord Lyttleton's Advice to a Lady" (1768), The Works of the Right Honorable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, vol. 5 ()
  • ... if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing.

  • ... the sum and substance of female education in America, as in England, is training women to consider marriage as the sole object in life, and to pretend that they do not think so.

  • If a test of civilization be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power,--from the exercise of the right of the strongest. Tried by this test, the American civilization appears to be of a lower order than might have been expected from other symptoms of its social state. The Americans have, in the treatment of women, fallen below, not only their own democratic principles but the practice of some parts of the Old World. The unconsciousness of both parties as to the injuries suffered by women at the hands of those who hold the power is a sufficient proof of the low degree of civilization in this important particular at which they rest. While women's intellect is confined, her morals crushed, her health ruined, her weaknesses encouraged, and her strength punished, she is told that her lot is cast in the paradise of women: and there is no country in the world where there is so much boasting of the 'chivalrous' treatment she enjoys. ... In short, indulgence is given her as a substitute for justice.

  • It is only a legend / You say? But what / Is the meaning of the legend / If not / To give blame to women most / And most punishment?

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "How Cruel Is the Story of Eve," The Best Beast ()
  • How cruel is the story of Eve, / What responsibility it has / In history / For misery.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "How Cruel Is the Story of Eve," The Best Beast ()
  • Whenever I hear a man talking of the advantages of our ill-used sex, I look upon it as the prelude to some new act of authority.

  • What! still retaining your Utopian visions of female felicity? To talk of our happiness! — ours, the ill-used and oppressed! You remind me of the ancient tyrant, who, seeing his slaves sink under the weight of their chains, said, 'Do look at the indolent repose of those people!'

  • I was climbing up a mountain-path / With many things to do, / Important business of my own, / And other people's too, / When I ran against a Prejudice / That quite cut off the view.

  • The labor of women in the house certainly, enables men to produce more wealth than they otherwise could; and in this way women are economic factors in society. But so are horses. The labor of horses enables men to produce more wealth than they otherwise could. The horse is an economic factor in society. But the horse is not economically independent, nor is the woman.

  • In our steady insistence on proclaiming sex-distinction we have grown to consider most human attributes as masculine attributes, for the simple reason that they were allowed to men and forbidden to women.

  • Where young boys plan for what they will achieve and attain, young girls plan for whom they will achieve and attain.

  • Not woman, but the condition of woman, has always been a doorway of evil.

  • The original necessity for the ceaseless presence of the woman to maintain that altar fire — and it was an altar fire in very truth at one period — has passed with the means of prompt ignition; the matchbox has freed the housewife from that incessant service, but the feeling that women should stay at home is with us yet.

  • The world needs scientists, engineers — and if a brain is qualified to do such work, it should be encouraged, not smothered because it is a female brain.

    • Marguerite Rawalt,
    • in Judith Paterson, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt ()
  • It is too disgusting to contemplate that a handful of men keep millions of women from being constitutional citizens of this land.

    • Marguerite Rawalt,
    • on the ERA, in Judith Paterson, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt ()
  • The patriarchal system is the ideal for which he longs. He likes to dream of himself sitting on the verandah after dinner, with his wife beside him and the children in the garden, while his unmarried sisters play duets in the drawing room and his maiden aunts hand around the coffee. This maintenance of helpless, penniless, subservient womanhood is the nearest he can get in England to the spiritual delights of the harem.

  • When those of our army whose voices are likely to coo tell us that the day of sex antagonism is over and that henceforth we only have to advance hand in hand with the male, I do not believe it.

  • Our domestic Napoleons, too many of them, give flattery, bonnets and bracelets to women, and everything else but — justice ...

  • What a pity when editors review a woman's book, that they so often fall into the error of reviewing the woman instead.

  • Can anybody tell me why reporters, in making mention of lady speakers, always consider it to be necessary to report, fully and firstly, the dresses worn by them? When John Jones or Senator Rouser frees his mind in public, we are left in painful ignorance of the color and fit of his pants, coat, necktie and vest — and worse still, the shape of his boots. This seems to me a great omission.

  • How odd it is that sewing is thought to be 'women's work' when surgeons, sailors, and cowboys sew too. Yet how many female thoracic surgeons are there? And if precision motor activities are thought to be performed better by women, why wouldn't they make better surgeons too?

  • Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men. Whether our reformers admit it or not, the economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution.

  • The most wasteful 'brain drain' in America today is the drain in the kitchen sink.

  • The best reason for believing that more women will be in charge before long is that in a ferociously competitive global economy, no company can afford to waste valuable brain power simply because it's wearing a skirt.

    • Anne Fisher,
    • "When Will Women Get to the Top?" in Fortune ()
  • I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture, I am a woman.

    • Sophia Tolstoy,
    • 1863, in O.A. Golinenko et al., eds., The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy ()
  • The lecturer in a marriage course at one of the big Eastern colleges for women recently said that a woman, even if she earns money, must act as if her husband were the important member of the family financially. She said this was the right psychological approach. It's not only the right psychological approach, but it's a recognition of fact.

  • In a woman-dominated society like our own, it's a cinch for a successful wife to spotlight her work, in public. If she's too successful, that's something to avoid as a conversational topic, at least among her husband's friends.

  • No one asks a man how his marriage survives if he's away a lot.

  • Men have jobs, while women have Roles: Mother, Wife, Goddess, Temptress, etc. That's probably why it's so hard for women to rewrite the rules. You're not just changing a job description, but an ancient myth. You're revising the Bible, Poetry, Legend and Psychoanalytic Scripture.

  • ... one of the best ways to fight the way young girls (and boys, let's not forget) get indoctrinated in our culture is to make a noisy stink. Loud, constantly offended feminists rule! Hell, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

  • Home can only come to its true dignity and power when the wife and mother is an equal partner in all that appertains to the sacred interests of the larger home of society and government.

  • A city is in many respects a great business corporation, but in other respects it is enlarged housekeeping. ... may we not say that city housekeeping has failed partly because women, the traditional housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities?

    • Jane Addams,
    • "Utilization of Women in City Government," Newer Ideals of Peace ()
  • Old-fashioned ways which no longer apply to changed conditions are a snare in which the feet of women have always become readily entangled.

    • Jane Addams,
    • "Utilization of Women in City Government," Newer Ideals of Peace ()
  • Woman throughout the ages has been mistress to the law, as man has been its master.

  • ... prejudices such as sexism and the deeply related homophobia, racism, and classism are not just personal problems, sets of peculiar and troubling beliefs. Exclusions and devaluations of whole groups of people on the scale and of the range, tenacity, and depth of racism and sexism and classism are systemic and shape the world within which we all struggle to live and find meaning.

  • It is the woman who is ultimately held responsible for pregnancy. While not being allowed to have control over her body, she is nevertheless held responsible for its products.

  • It is a pity that so often the only way to treat girls like people seems to be to treat them like boys.

  • It might be marvelous to be a man — then I could stop worrying about what's fair to women and just cheerfully assume I was superior, and that they had all been born to iron my shirts. Better still, I could be an Irish man — then I would have all the privileges of being male without giving up the right to be wayward, temperamental and an appealing minority.

  • His loss was all about me. It must always wound those who are left when a man's possessions outlive him.

  • Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling.

  • I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.

  • Now we are expected to be as wise as men who have had generations of all the help there is, and we scarcely anything.

  • A woman may perform the most disinterested duties. She may 'die daily' in the cause of truth and righteousness. She lives neglected, dies forgotten. But a man who never performed in his whole life one self-denying act, but who has accidental gifts of genius, is celebrated by his contemporaries, while his name and his works live on, from age to age. He is crowned with laurel, while scarce a 'stone may tell where she lies.'

    • Abigail May Alcott,
    • 1843, in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • Girls are taught to seem, to appear — not to be and do.

    • Abigail May Alcott,
    • 1848, in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • Just as the difference in height between males is no longer a realistic issue, now that lawsuits have been substituted for hand-to-hand encounters, so the difference in strength between men and women is no longer worth elaboration in cultural institutions.

  • ... women are scolded both for being mothers and for not being mothers, for wanting to eat their cake and have it too, and for not wanting to eat their cake and have it too ...

  • Conventional history completely ignores half the human race.

  • The [film] business is run by men, and they're basically interested in their own species, and they're not so interested in women belonging to the human race.

  • Chivalry, I don't abuse you, / Not at all — the only rub / Is that those who praise you, use you / Very often as a club.

  • It is always difficult for a woman to be grateful for a form of chivalry that seems to be based on the premise that she is a moron.

  • Perhaps patriarchy's greatest psychological weapon is simply its universality and longevity. ... Patriarchy has a still more tenacious or powerful hold through its successful habit of passing itself off as nature.

  • The rationale which accompanies that imposition of male authority euphemistically referred to as 'the battle of the sexes' bears a certain resemblance to the formulas of nations at war, where any heinousness is justified on the grounds that the enemy is either an inferior [part of the] species or really not human at all.

  • Perhaps nothing is so depressing an index of the inhumanity of the male-supremacist mentality as the fact that the more genial human traits are assigned to the underclass: affection, response to sympathy, kindness, cheerfulness.

  • It is interesting that many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning.

  • ... the world tells us what we are to be, and shapes us by the ends it sets before us. To you it says — work; and to us it says — seem!

  • ... I have discovered that of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls' boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, 'Into how little space a human soul can be crushed?' I have seen some souls so compressed that they would have fitted into a small thimble, and found room to move there — wide room.

  • The Glass Ceiling isn't actually made of glass — it's a very thick layer of men.

  • Every time the word 'breastfeeding' is mentioned, there's a snicker on the House floor. This has been happening since the dawn of creation. Can we finally get a grip on it?

    • Susan Molinari,
    • in Patricia Schroeder, 24 Years of House Work ... and the Place Is Still a Mess ()
  • The Rights of Women, says a female pen, / Are, to do every thing as well as Men, / To think, to argue, to decide, to write, / To talk, undoubtedly — perhaps, to fight. / ... / But since the Sex at length has been inclin'd / To cultivate that useful part — the mind; — / Since they have learnt to read, to write to spell; — / Since some of them have wit, — and use it well; — / Let us not force them back with brow severe, / With the pale of ignorance and fear, / Confin'd entirely to domestic arts, / Producing only children, pies, and tarts.

  • It's so acceptably easy for a woman not to strive too hard, not to be too adventure-crazed, not to take too many risks, not to enjoy sex with full candor ... It isn't seemly for a woman to have that much zest.

  • Opening the door is a political act. The door-opening ceremony represents a non-obtrusive measure of authority. The hand that holds the door-knob rules the world.

  • But who made the law that we should not hope in our daughters? We women subscribe to that law more than anyone. Until we change all this, it is still a man's world, which women will always help to build.

  • The supposition that women politicians are more trustworthy, ethical or honest than men is old-fashioned at best and sexist at worst.

  • One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don't take it personally, but listen hard to what's going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged.

    • Nora Ephron,
    • speech to Wellesley graduating class ()
  • We weren't meant to have futures, we were meant to marry them. We weren't meant to have politics, or careers that mattered, or opinions, or lives; we were meant to marry them. If you wanted to be an architect, you married an architect.

    • Nora Ephron,
    • speech to Wellesley graduating class ()
  • About 97% of the media is created by men.

    • Jodi Evans,
    • in Daniel Barsamian, "Jodi Evans," The Progressive ()
  • When I was 7, I wanted to be a jockey. My father told me women weren't allowed. I couldn't believe it. I was perfectly willing to fail on my own merits, but to be flunked at birth?

  • ... under a monopolistic economic system the opportunity to earn a living by one's labour comes to be regarded as a privilege instead of a natural right. Women are simply held to be less entitled to this privilege than men.

  • When once a social order is well established, no matter what injustice it involves, those who occupy a position of advantage are not long in coming to believe that it is the only possible and reasonable order ...

  • So a girl is damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. If she refuses to talk like a lady, she is ridiculed and subjected to criticism as unfeminine; if she does learn, she is ridiculed as unable to think clearly, unable to take part in a serious discussion: in some sense, as less than fully human. These two choices which a woman has — to be less than a woman or less than a person — are highly painful.

  • Television does not provide human models for a bright thirteen-year-old girl who would like to grow up to be something other than an ecstatic floor waxer.

    • Caroline Bird,
    • 1971, in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • Feminine virtue is nothing but a convenient masculine invention.

  • For Nature is not unjust. She does not steal into the womb and like an evil fairy give her good gifts secretly to men and deny them to women. Men and women are born free and equal in ability and brain. The injustice begins after birth.

  • A man is educated and turned out to work. But a woman is educated — and turned out to grass.

  • ... our culture thrusts woman into the condition of the lesser, the secondary, the subspecies, the atypical, the abnormal, the adjunct. It subordinates her to the male, who is portrayed as the superior, the species, the typical, the norm, the standard. It reflects the assumption that all people are male until proven female.

  • If two heads are better than one; two thousand enquiries must in course be better than one thousand, and in all probability make at least double the discoveries. So that, if it be but allow'd that the Women are equal in numbers to the Men; we may modestly conclude that, at the lowest computation, one half the profitable knowledge which the human species might by this time have been possessed of is irreparably lost, through the indolence of some Women in not exerting their talents, and the mean tyranny of most Men, in putting it out of their power to improve those talents.

  • ... we have not been excluded from a share in the power and privileges which lift their sex above ours, for want of natural capacity, or merit, but for want of an equal spirit of violence, shameless injustice, and lawless oppression, with theirs.

  • ... what a wretched circle this poor way of reasoning among the Men draws them insensibly into. Why is learning useless to us? Because we have no share in public offices. And why have we no share in public offices? Because we have no learning.

  • ... the learned and illiterate alike are prepossest with the opinion that Men are really superior to Women, and that the dependence we now are in, is the very state which nature pointed out to us. So that to advance the contrary doctrine, after so long a prepossession, must appear as great a paradox, as it did some years ago to assert, that on the nether surface of the globe, there were men who walked with their heads downwards to us ...

  • The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: 'It's a girl.'

  • [On gender-rating by insurance companies:] They say the reason they get to charge more is we have children. I would say having children is a socially useful act. Being female is not a preexisting condition.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • in Patt Morrison, "The Founder," Los Angeles Times ()
  • During years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country. I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places and turned away from apartment rentals. All for the clearly stated, sole reason that I am a woman.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • testimony before the Senate debating the Equal Rights Amendment ()
  • This has always been a man's world, and none of the reasons hitherto brought forward in explanation of this fact has seemed adequate.

  • The days when women leaders were viewed as deficit males are a relic of the past. ... Instead of treating women leaders as exceptions or anomalies who are categorized as 'women leaders,' and not just 'leaders,' we have to acknowledge that the number of women leaders will eventually reach a critical mass.

  • While many of the legal barriers to women's participation in the workforce and access to leadership positions in corporations have been removed through legislation, changing demographics, and women's increased level of education and experience, women still face many obstacles on the path to leadership.

  • Woman is shut up in a kitchen or in a boudoir, and astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited. Her wings are clipped, and it is found deplorable that she cannot fly.

  • ... it is not the inferiority of women that has caused their historical insignificance; it is rather their historical insignificance that has doomed them to inferiority.

  • Christian ideology has contributed no little to the oppression of woman.

  • It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills.

  • The man of today did not establish this patriarchal regime, but he profits by it, even when he criticizes it. And he has made it very much a part of his own thinking.

    • Simone de Beauvoir,
    • in Alice Schwarzer, "The Radicalization of Simone de Beauvoir," Ms. ()
  • The entire social order ... is arrayed against a woman who wants to rise to a man's reputation.

  • Who's counting? It was, of course, the minority who were counting. It always is. Most of the women I know today would dearly like to use their fingers and toes for some activity more enthralling than counting. They have been counting for so long. But the peculiar problem of the new math is that every time we stop adding, somebody starts subtracting. At the very least (the advanced students will understand this) the rate of increase slows. ... The minority members of any group or profession have two answers: They can keep score or they can lose.

  • If women can sleep their way to the top, how come they aren't there?

  • Women have gained access to the institutions, but not enough power to overhaul them.

  • At their core, misogyny and racism are very similar modes of thinking. Both diminish and disrespect a class of people based on a trait that is wholly distinct from their ideas, their carriage and their conduct.

  • What we have to recognize is that the creation of the fiction of tradition is a matter of power, not justice, and that that power has always been in the hands of men ... Our 'ritual journeys,' our 'articulate voices,' our 'symbolic spaces' are rarely the same as men's. Those differences and the assumption that those differences make women inherently inferior, plus the appropriation by men of the power to define tradition, account for women's absence from our written records.

    • Mary Helen Washington,
    • "'The Darkened Eye Restored': Notes Toward a Literary History of Black Women," in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Reading Black, Reading Feminist ()
  • The colored woman of to-day occupies, one may say, a unique position in this country. In a period of itself transitional and unsettled, her status seems one of the least ascertainable and definitive of all the forces which make for our civilization. She is confronted by both a woman question and a race problem ...

  • ... 'tis woman's strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. It would be subversive of every human interest that the cry of one-half the human family be stifled. ... The world has had to limp along with the wobbling gait and one-sided hesitancy of a man with one eye. Suddenly the bandage is removed from the other eye and the whole body is filled with light. It sees a circle where before it saw a segment. The darkened eye restored, every member rejoices with it.

  • Respect for woman, the much lauded chivalry of the Middle Ages, meant what I fear it still means to some men in our own day — respect for the elect few among whom they expect to consort.

  • If women were once permitted to read Sophocles and work with logarithms, or to nibble at any side of the apple of knowledge, there would be an end forever to their sewing on buttons and embroidering slippers.

  • ... the world is not always kind to a clever woman even when she is visibly known to be earning her own living. There are always spiteful tongues wagging in the secret corners and byways, ready to assert that her work is not her own and and that some man is in the background, helping to keep her!

  • Art is sexless; — good work is eternal, no matter whether it is man or woman who has accomplished it. ... Ah, but the world will never own woman's work to be great even if it be so, because men give the verdict, and man's praise is for himself and his own achievements always.

  • I never want anything more than what's fair. The problem is, I never want anything less either. In the old-boy school of business, if a woman walks away from the table with what's rightfully hers, the man feels screwed ...

  • Only in a sexist society can the breakup of a marriage actually improve the economic well-being of the father, cause the mother and children to suffer a large drop in economic status, and permit most fathers to provide little or no support to their children.

    • Diana M. Pearce,
    • "The Feminization of Ghetto Poverty," in Evelyn Ashton-Jones and Gary A. Olson, eds., The Gender Reader ()
  • I have met women in their seventies who still cry because they were denied the chance to study Torah, or prepare for Bat Mitzvah as young girls, or become rabbis though it was clearly their calling. My Bat Mitzvah was not only for me, but for generations of females denied permission or encouragement to do this.

    • Nina Perlmutter,
    • "Better Late Than Early," in Rachel Josefowitz Siegel and Ellen Cole, eds., Celebrating the Lives of Jewish Women: Patterns in a Feminist Sampler ()
  • The accusation that I am a woman is incontrovertible.

  • The oppression of women was the model for slavery, private property and capitalism.

  • ... man is educated for action — we for endurance; and the same verb is conjugated very differently, you know, in the active and passive voice.

  • Your sex are placed in so unjust a position here, that it is policy to ensure their submission by presenting to them a religion which promises them an equality with their oppressors hereafter.

  • The world may forgive a woman for being handsome, — even for being witty, — but not for entertaining opinions different from its own ...

  • We are a society that values a man for what he does in the world, a woman for how she looks.

  • In every generation women have to be taught their place one more time. The subordination of women is never accomplished for once and for all.

  • I do believe the reason why so few men, even among the intelligent, wish to encourage the mental cultivation of women, is their excessive love of the good things of this life; they tremble for their dear stomachs, concluding that a woman who could taste the pleasures of poetry or sentiment would never descend to pay due attention to those exquisite flavours in pudding or pie, that are so gratifying to their philosophic palates ...

    • Jane Taylor,
    • 1808, in Ada M. Ingpen, ed., Women As Letter-Writers ()
  • Isn't it interesting how men 'leave' their families, but women 'abandon' their children?

  • From a biological viewpoint, patriarchal religion denied women the natural rights of every other mammalian female: the right to choose her stud, to control the circumstances of her mating, to occupy and govern her own nest, or to refuse all males when preoccupied with the important business of raising her young.

  • Few would suggest that sexual or racial inequality exists because of language use. Nor would many argue that banishing sexist and racist labeling would in itself result in a just society. At the same time, it is clear that language not only reflects social structures but, more important, sometimes serves to perpetuate existing differences in power; thus a serious concern with linguistic usage is fully warranted.

    • Francine Wattman Frank,
    • in Francine Wattman Frank and Paula A. Treichler, Language, Gender, and Professional Writing ()
  • Public depictions of women still tend to remain rigid and narrow — about the size of a coffin, say.

    • Joan Frank,
    • "No One Escapes," Desperate Women Need to Talk to You ()
  • The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.

  • Protectiveness has often muffled the sound of doors closing against women ...

  • Money is today, as much as ever, the ultimate symbol of authority and autonomy, of power, ownership, and entitlement in the Western world. Money is the very essence of survival, a tangible measure of success and self-worth in our society, and making it is still the ultimate male prerogative. The rewards of money for women — which include economic security, nurturing, freedom — have historically resided in the illusory grace of others' generosity.

  • Freud, living at a time when women were proving their heads were no different from men's, substituted the penis for the head as the organ of male superiority, an organ women could never prove they had.

  • Patriarchy values the hard over the soft; the tough over the tender; punishment, vengeance, and vindictiveness over compassion, negotiation, and reconciliation. The 'hard' qualities are linked to power, success, and masculinity — and exalted. The 'soft' qualities are identified with weakness, powerlessness, and femininity — and denigrated.

    • Starhawk,
    • "Feminist Voices for Peace," in Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, Stop the Next War Now ()
  • ... it is one thing to argue that our biological traits make us unfit for professional work. It is another to imply that our biological traits make us fit for dishwashing, floor scrubbing, collar starching, let alone bringing up babies. ... Since when, by the way, do we try to enhance rather compensate for assumed biological handicaps? We provide spectacles for the nearsighted. We don't say, 'Sorry. Don't come to school. You can't see the blackboard. People like you are historically and biologically destined to fail.'

  • Three girl children did nothing to reconcile Ada Hicks to a fourth; and her husband, when he heard the ghastly news, stood mute and stricken, wondering why his wife always had to tell him things like that before tea when she knew that worry gave him indigestion.

  • The only method of restoring the natural equality of dignity between men and women, lies in the demolishment of that elaborate theological structure which maintains that woman is made for the possession of man in a sense in which man is not made for woman, and that celibacy, per se, is a state of superior purity. Nature and common sense (not metaphysical sense) demonstrate that there is no good reason why any man or any woman should take, claim, or wield 'lordship' over another.

  • ... the lowest depth of women's degradation in Christendom was reached in the public sentiment (guided by ecclesiastics) which condemned thousands of poor creatures to be tortured and publicly burnt alive at the stake for their imaginary league with Christendom's imaginary devil!

  • Women's chains have been forged by men, not by anatomy.

  • The common law of this state held man and wife to be one person, but that person was the husband.

  • Thirty years ago, when the Woman's Rights Movement began, the status of a married woman was little better than that of a domestic servant. By the English common law, her husband was her lord and master. He had the sole custody of her person, and of her minor children. He could 'punish her with a stick no bigger than his thumb,' and she could not complain against him.

  • Racism and sexism are not 'problems' or 'topics.' They are ways of defining reality and living our lives that most of us learned along with learning how to tie our shoes and how to drink from a cup.

  • ... until it had been clearly explained that men were always and always partly wrong in all their ideas, life would be full of poison and secret bitterness. Men fight about their philosophies and religions, there is no certainty in them; but their contempt for women is flawless and unanimous.

  • Lucky are you, reader, if you happen not to be of that sex to whom it is forbidden all good things; to whom liberty is denied; to whom almost all virtues are denied; lucky are you if you are one of those who can be wise without its being a crime.

  • ... books were not composed / By women, nor did they record the things / That we may read against them and their ways. / Yet men write on, quite to their heart's content, / The ones who plead their case without debate. / They give no quarter, take the winner's part / Themselves, for readily do quarrelers / Attack all those who don't defend themselves. / If women, though, had written all those books, / I know that they would read quite differently, / For well do women know the blame is wrong. / The parts are not apportioned equally, / Because the strongest take the largest cut / And he who slices it can keep the best.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • "Letter of the God of Love" (1399), in Thelma S. Fenster and Mary Carpenter Erler, eds., Poems of Cupid, God of Love ()
  • ... he's excused, she's named and she's accused.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • "Letter of the God of Love" (1399), in Thelma S. Fenster and Mary Carpenter Erler, eds., Poems of Cupid, God of Love ()
  • Women are called difficult and tough when (1) we negotiate the best deal, (2) we are perfectionists in doing our job, (3) we are willing to work harder and longer than men are willing to, and (4) when we question anything — anything — that someone else is doing, particularly if that someone is a man.

  • Women's property has been taxed, equally with that of men's, to sustain colleges endowed by the states; but they have not been permitted to enter those high seminaries of learning.

    • Lucretia Mott,
    • speech (1849), in Dana Greene, ed., Lucretia Mott: Her Complete Speeches and Sermons ()
  • I have always wanted to be a man, if only for the reason that I would like to have gauged the value of my intellect.

  • Women are from their very infancy debarred those advantages with the want of which they are aftewards reproached, and nursed up in those vices which will hereafter be upbraided to them. So partial are men as to expect bricks when they afford no straw ...

  • ... no one sex can govern alone. I believe that one of the reasons why civilisation has failed so lamentably is that it has had one-sided government.

  • In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on woman.

  • Men's stories are seen as universal, women's as particular. What women are up against is the battle to not be marginalized.

  • ... men are not born with a faculty for the universal and ... women are not reduced at birth to the particular. The universal has been, and is continually, at every moment, appropriated by men. It does not happen by magic, it must be done. It is an act, a criminal act, perpetrated by one class against another. It is an act carried out at the level of concepts, philosophy, politics.

  • To be black and female, in a society which is both racist and sexist, is to be in a unique position of having nowhere to go but up.

    • Rosemary Brown,
    • in John Robert Colombo, Colombo's Concise Canadian Quotations ()
  • ... most churches on either side of the ocean see women as playing only a 'supportive,' if any, role in their congregations. Men preach, women listen. Men pray, women say 'Amen.' Men form the clergy, the diaconate or the oversight, women abide by their leadership. Men study theology, women sew for the bazaar. Men make decisions, women make the tea.

  • The consensus appears to be that as it is presented and practiced in our churches the gospel is not Good News for women.

  • History as a discipline can be characterized as having a collective forgetfulness about women.

  • Economically, legally, and politically powerless throughout much of western history, women have been linked to nature and the unknowable through metaphors of the body while the masculine has signified culture and mental activity.

    • Whitney Chadwick,
    • "Women Artists and the Politics of Representation," in Arlene Raven, Cassandra Langer, Joanna Frueh, eds., Feminist Art Criticism ()
  • 'Tis hard we should be by the men despised, / Yet kept from knowing what would make us prized; / Debarred from knowledge, banished from the schools, / And with the utmost industry bred fools.

  • [The prejudice against color and against women] is produced by the same cause, and manifested very much in the same way. The Negro's skin and the woman's sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man.

  • 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.

  • The prolonged slavery of women is the darkest page in human history.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 ()
  • While women were tortured, drowned and burned by the thousands, scarce one wizard to a hundred was ever condemned ... The same distinction of sex appears in our own day. One code of morals for men, another for women.

  • There is no such thing as a sphere for sex. Every man has a different sphere, in which he may or may not shine, and it is the same with every woman, and the same woman may have a different sphere at different times.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1848, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • Thus far women have been the mere echoes of men. Our laws and constitutions, our creeds and codes, and the customs of social life are all of masculine origin. The true woman is as yet a dream of the future.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • speech (1888), in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 ()
  • ... the religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences ...

  • To think that all in me of which my father would have felt proper pride had I been a man, is deeply mortifying to him because I am a woman.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1855, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • ... religious superstitions more than all other influences put together cripple & enslave woman, but so long as women themselves do not see it & hug their chains, we have a great educational work to do ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Ann Gordon, ed., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, vol. 5 ()
  • Oh, the shortcomings and inconsistency of the average human being, especially when this human being is a man trying to manage women's affairs!

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1901, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • But so long as women are slaves, men will be knaves.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1890, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • Woman's degradation is in man's idea of his sexual rights. Our religion, laws, customs, are all founded on the belief that woman was made for man.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • letter to Susan B. Anthony (1860), in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.

  • ... that curious social warp which obligates us most to impeach the validity of a woman's opinion at the points where it is most supported by experience.

  • ... he told me that it only seemed reasonable that if there were female studies programs there should be something for men. My answer was that we already had men's studies — it was called education.

  • But oh, what a woman I should be if an able young man would consecrate his life to me as secretaries and technicians do to their men employers.

    • Mabel Ulrich,
    • "A Doctor's Diary, 1904-1932," in Scribner's Magazine ()
  • Though the female life force is indomitable, there is no question that millennia of second-class status has left a mark on our psyches. (Make that third-class status if God is involved).

  • Dear me no Dears, Sir ...

  • [Epilogue:] As for you half wits, you unthinking tribe, / We'll let you see, what e'er besides we do, / How artfully we copy some of you: / And if you're drawn to the life, pray tell me then, / Why women should not write as well as men.

  • I'll watch a movie only if it meets the following criteria: 1. It has to have at least two women in it. 2. Who talk to each other. 3. About something besides a man.

    • Alison Bechdel,
    • who credits friend Liz Wallace for it, although it has become known as "The Bechdel Test" since it appeared in Dykes to Watch Out For ()
  • I've been busy with a long memorandum about the whole of our central Arabian relations, which I've just finished. It will now go to all the High and Mighty in every part. One can't do much more than sit and record if one is of my sex, devil take it; one can get the things recorded in the right way and that means, I hope, that unconsciously people will judge events as you think they ought to be judged. But it's small change for doing things, very small change I feel at times.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1916, in Florence Bell, ed., The Letters of Gertrude Bell, vol. 1 ()
  • We still think of a powerful woman as an anomaly, a potentially dangerous anomaly ...

  • It's really funny if two women stand on the House floor. There are usually at least two men who go by and say, 'What is this, a coup?' They're almost afraid to see us in public together.

  • ... the gender of God, God's presumed masculinity, has functioned as the ultimate religious legitimization of the unjust social structures which victimize women.

  • It is common to hear dedicated working women say they have to be twice as intelligent, three times as industrious, four times as enthusiastic, and work for half the money paid their male counterparts. Even then they may not be taken seriously. Many women feel that no matter how excellent their qualifications, the rise into management is blocked.

  • [On running for president:] Victoria Woodhull in 1872, Belva Lockwood in 1884, Shirley Chisholm in 1973 and Pat Schroeder in 1987 all found that the White House is still America's ultimate clubhouse with a 'No Girls Allowed' sign posted.

  • Discrimination against women in job assignments, training and promotion, affects employers and our total economy as much as it does women. To fail to maintain the pace is to come out second-rate as a nation.

  • Sexist words and pictures commonly imply that everything active, everything significant, is male.

  • Manual dexterity: An aptitude for exacting work with one's hands, which fits women for typing but not for more lucrative enterprises like brain surgery.

  • Sexism goes so deep that at first it's hard to see; you think it's just reality.

  • I have seen that women are shut out from every means of earning a living that is really remunerative, crowded into certain narrow walks, which, in consequence, are so thronged that the poor creatures are forced to work for the merest pittance.

  • Just so long as all our literature is pervaded with the thought that women are inferior, so long will our sex be held in a low estimate.

  • ... while there are 'women writers' there are not, and have never been, 'men writers.' This is an empty category, a class without specimens; for the noun 'writer' — the very verb 'writing' — always implies masculinity.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "(Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • Men alone are not capable of making laws for men and women.

    • Nellie McClung,
    • newspaper report (1915), in Linda Rasmussen et al., A Harvest Yet to Reap ()
  • The ceiling isn't glass; it's a very dense layer of men.

  • She supposed that she was not in love with Henry, but, even had she been in love with him, she could see therein no reason for foregoing the whole of her own separate existence. Henry was in love with her, but no one proposed that he should forego his. On the contrary, it appeared that in acquiring her he was merely adding something extra to it. He would continue ... to enjoy his free, varied, and masculine life, with no ring upon his finger or difference in his name to indicate the change in his estate ...

  • Other problems confront women in power. One is fine but two's a crowd seems to be an unspoken rule when the one wears a skirt. And those in authority have found ways to reward women for excluding others of their kind.

  • ... women are quoted as sources and appear on interview shows much less frequently than men. ... But the by-product of such anonymity may be immortality, for women are also less likely to find themselves written up on the obituary page.

  • Women are penalized both for deviating from the masculine norm and for appearing to be masculine. When women try to establish their competence, they are scrutinized for evidence that they lack masculine (instrumental) characteristics as well as for signs that they no longer possess female (expressive) ones. They are taken to fail, in other words, both as a male and as a female.

  • Stories told around the water-cooler as well as statistics confirm that a man's competence is more likely to be presupposed, a woman's questioned.

  • 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.'

  • Whatever class and race divergences exist, top cats are tom cats.

  • ... women have been more systematically excluded from doing serious science than from performing any other social activity except, perhaps, frontline warfare.

  • Biology is destiny only for girls.

  • ... men maintain that the mind of women can learn only a little. ... if it were customary to send daughters to school like sons, and if they were then taught the natural sciences, they would learn as thoroughly and understand the subtleties of all the arts and sciences as well as sons.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • 1405, in Earl Jeffrey Richards, trans., The Book of the City of Ladies ()
  • But just the sight of this book ... made me wonder how it happened that so many different men — and learned men among them — have been and are so inclined to express both in speaking and in their treatises and writings so many devilish and wicked thoughts about women and their behavior.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • 1405, in Earl Jeffrey Richards, trans., The Book of the City of Ladies ()
  • There are apparently no gender differences between women and men in terms of leadership style. ... What differences appear to exist seem to disappear when other variables are taken into account. ... Even though the preponderance of the evidence shows scant differences at most, stereotypes continue to favor the 'male is normal' model of leadership. ... The most encouraging implication from the research is that stereotypes tend to become less important as experience increases.

  • Power behaviors that are seen as appropriate for men will not ... be seen as appropriate for women. ... Successful managers are those who are able to acquire and use power strategies effectively. Those power styles and strategies that are most associated with being perceived as powerful and competent, with being effective or persuasive, are also associated with being masculine. ... the evidence suggests that both masculine and feminine styles may be effective if used by men, but masculine styles are not effective when used by women. The ineluctable conclusion is that women have the choice of using power in an indirect (manipulative) way and risking either being ineffective or unrecognized, or using direct styles and risking being both ineffective and disliked.

  • I'd like to see workplaces where women don't have to check parts of themselves at the door.

  • The big lie perpetrated on Western society is the idea of women's inferiority, a lie so deeply ingrained in our social behavior that merely to recognize it is to risk unraveling the entire fabric of civilization.

    • Molly Haskell,
    • From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
    • ()
  • Of all the systems — if indeed a bundle of contradictions and absurdities may be called a system — which human nature in its moments of intoxication has produced, that which men have contrived with a view to forming the minds and regulating the conduct of women, is perhaps the most completely absurd.

  • Racism, classism, and sexism will disappear when we accept differences and if we continue to resist loudly and clearly all racist, classist and sexist efforts on the part of other persons to enslave us.

  • In a society in which money determines value, women are a group who work outside the money economy.

    • Margaret Benston,
    • "The Political Economy of Women's Liberation," Monthly Review ()
  • ... there is only one role or job which no woman is or could be qualified to perform: Sperm donor.

  • Ironically, women who acquire power are more likely to be criticized for it than are the men who have always had it.

  • Today's youth seem finally to have understood that only by freeing woman from her exclusively sexual role can man free himself from his ordained role in the rat-race: that of the rat.

  • When a man gets up to speak, people listen, they look. When a woman gets up, people look; then, if they like what they see, they listen.

  • Women have to be twice as good [as men] for half as much pay.

    • Agnes Macphail,
    • in Terence Allan Crowley, Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality ()
  • But if God had wanted us to think just with our wombs, why did He give us a brain?

  • To put a woman on the ticket would challenge the loyalty of women everywhere to their sex, because it would be made to seem that the defeat of the ticket meant the defeat for a hundred years of women's chance to be truly equal with men in politics.

  • 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,
    • in Dorothy W. Cantor and Toni Bernay, with Jean Stoess, Women in Power ()
  • Male supremacy has kept her [woman] down. It has not knocked her out.

  • In politics women ... type the letters, lick the stamps, distribute the pamphlets and get out the vote. Men get elected.

  • Attempts to limit female mobility by hampering locomotion are ancient and almost universal. The foot-binding of upper-class Chinese girls and the Nigerian custom of loading women's legs with pounds of heavy brass wire are extreme examples, but all over the world similar stratagems have been employed to make sure that once you have caught a woman she cannot run away, and even if she stays around she cannot keep up with you. ... Literally as well as figuratively modern women's shoes are what keeps Samantha from running as fast as Sammy.

  • What I find amazing is that, when a man is designated as prime minister, nobody asks the French if they think it is a good thing that it is a man.

  • ... the Bible is used as a means of reinforcing their [women's] subordination to men through divine sanction.

  • Women are socialized to be nice, to be docile. I call it 'shrink to fit': Shrink yourself to fit what others expect of you.

    • Meg Ryan,
    • in Oprah Winfrey, O's Guide to Life ()
  • If I had ever learned to type, I never would have made brigadier general.

  • [On Bull Durham:] I left the theater haunted by this tragic tale of forbidden love. Not the love of a woman for a man. The love of a woman for baseball. [Annie Savoy] was forced to settle for the great feminine trade-off: If you can't be it, sleep with a man who can. Hence her long career as a glorified groupie of the hometown team. They wouldn't let her pitch balls, so she balled pitchers instead.

    • Kathy Maio,
    • in Sojourner: The Women's Forum ()
  • The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems which beset us.

  • There is no doubt about it that it is more difficult for a woman to follow a career than for a man. Through the centuries his time has been considered more valuable, and he has consequently been excused from wrestling with many of 'life's minor damnabilities.'

  • ... you have not a boat of your own, that is just it; that is what women always suffer from; they have to steer, but the craft is some one else's, and the haul too.

  • Is it to be imagined ... that women were made for no other purpose than to fabricate sweetmeats and gingerbread, construct shirts, darn stockings, and become mothers of possible presidents? Assuredly not. Should the women of America ever discover what their power might be, and compare it with what it is, much improvement might be hoped for.

  • We are half the world's population — with a very limited recorded past. Our significance to the human story has been undersung, undervalued, underappreciated.

    • Gene Trolander,
    • in Imogen Davenport Trolander and Phyllis Lawson Jackson, eds., Celebrating Women ()
  • The men who espoused unpopular causes may have been considered misguided, but they were rarely attacked for their morals or their masculinity. Women who did the same thing were apt to be denounced as harlots or condemned for being unfeminine — an all-purpose word that was used to describe almost any category of female behavior of which men disapproved.

  • I can do as much work as any man ... We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much. What we want is a little money. You men know that you get as much again as women when you write, or for what you do. When we get our rights, we shall not have to come to you for money, for then we shall have money enough of our own.

    • Sojourner Truth,
    • 1851, in Carleton Mabee, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend ()
  • The tracing of a child's lineage and its name with reference to the father, though it has lasted for many thousands of years, has not become any the more natural or reasonable as a result.

  • A popular saying in Alderson went as follows: 'They work us like a horse, feed us like a bird, treat us like a child, dress us like a man — and then expect us to act like a lady.'

  • A man has every season while a woman only has the right to spring. That disgusts me.

  • Women are not forgiven for aging. Bob Redford's lines of distinction are my old-age wrinkles.

  • The text-books for girls were carefully edited, and their knowledge of 'science' was to be limited to a few 'popular and amusing facts,' but in return for this intellectual emancipation they were strongly advised by the educational authorities of the time to avoid all disputes, to give up their opinions, even if they knew they were in the right, and finally (and in this all authorities, male and female, united as one man) never to allow it to be suspected that they knew anything or their matrimonial chances were gone forever.

    • Mary K. Ford,
    • Women's Progress: A Comparison of Centuries
    • ()
  • ... the central argument of the backlash — that women's equality is responsible for women's unhappiness.

  • ... the heart of the backlash argument: women are better off 'protected' than equal.

  • Women are on the outside when the door to the smoke-filled room is closed.

  • When two working people decide to marry, their federal income tax is usually increased. As soon as one spouse earns at least 20 percent of a married couple's total income, the couple pays a 'marriage tax.' ... The United States is the only major industrialized nation in the free world in which the tax cost of the second [married] earner's entry into the work force is higher than that of the first. On one hand, our government's social policy is to help working women earn equal salaries to those of men, but on the other we have a tax structure that penalizes them when they do so.

  • ... the sum total of women's athletic scholarships for the entire nation in 1972 [the year Title IX was enacted] was $100,000.

  • ... I wonder why it is that newspaper reporters always go into the details of a woman's dress, whether at a suffrage caucus or a prayer meeting? Just fancy the papers containing an account of a costume worn by the Hon. Grover Cleveland when he delivers an address on some auspicious occasion. Fancy having the mind distracted by the color of his necktie or the check of his trousers. And yet, let his wife show herself for a moment and her dress is pounced upon, every detail is seized and we are regaled the following day by a wonderful description of the — upon each occasion — handsomest and most tasteful costume she has yet worn.

  • O we are all racist we are all sexist some of us only some of us are the targets of racism of sexism of homophobia of class denigration but we all all breathe in racism with the dust in the streets with the words we read and we struggle those of us who struggle we struggle endlessly endlessly to think and be and act differently from all that.

    • Rosario Morales,
    • "We're All in the Same Boat," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • It takes two to make a woman into a sex object.

  • A woman who's boss of her own life always goes too far in the eyes of the righteous ...

  • ... 'raised' consciousness means lifelong bumping up against a continually receding ceiling. I mean, who ever 'graduates'?

  • [After attorney Harry McCall said in court, 'I would like to remind you gentlemen of a legal point':] Would you like to remind me, too?

  • Fat is a feminist issue.

  • My idea of success was to be a boy — possibly because my brothers, Leon and Arthur, were my father's pride and joy, whereas he had to be introduced to me several times before he got it firmly planted in his mind that I was part of the family ...

  • A woman can do anything she wants as long as she doesn't do anything she wants! She can go anywhere she likes as long as she stays put!

  • Well, I thought, as I tidied up the kitchen, there's no question that a man who works all week needs to relax on the weekend. There's no question about that. There's only a question about this: What about a woman who works all week?

  • A man's home is his castle, and his wife is the janitor.

  • Even the new feminist research on sex-role socialization and sex differences has sometimes had the unfortunate consequence of creating a new set of stereotypes about what women feel and how women behave. Despite the large amount of overlap between the sexes in most research, the tendency to label and polarize and thus to exaggerate differences remains in much reporting of data, which may, for example, report the mean scores of male and female populations but not the degree of overlap.

  • The real test of my candidacy will come when the next woman runs for national office. Only then will we know if she, too, is going to be judged by a standard different from that used for her male opponents; if she, too, is going to have to be better in order to be judged equal.

  • ... one reporter asked me about my father ... But when I asked her what she knew about Ronald Reagan's father, she looked blank.

  • Alas! a woman that attempts the pen, / Such an intruder on the rights of men, / Such a presumptuous Creature, is esteem'd, / The fault, can by no vertue be redeem'd.

    • Anne Finch,
    • "The Introduction," Miscellany Poems, Written by a Lady ()
  • 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,
    • in Stuart Oderman, Lillian Gish: A Life on Stage and Screen ()
  • Sexist language, racist language, theistic language — all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not, permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.

  • Will it be said that the judgment of a male of two years old, is more sage than that of a female's of the same age? I believe the reverse is generally observed to be true. But from that period what partiality! how is the one exalted, and the other depressed, by the contrary modes of education which are adopted! the one is taught to aspire, and the other is early confined and limited. As their years increase, the sister must be wholly domesticated, while the brother is led by the hand through all the flowery paths of science.

  • ... marriage, home life, and children, ought to be enjoyed by men and women together. Nobody — and least of all the child — is served by the present tendency to put these things all on one side as 'Woman's World.'

    • Alva Myrdal,
    • in Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein, Women's Two Roles: Home and Work ()
  • ... if God is male, then the male is God. The divine patriarch castrates women as long as he is allowed to live on in the human imagination.

  • Where sexism and homophobia meet, you get a viciousness the likes of which you have never seen.

    • Sandra Lowe,
    • speech (1989), in Rosemary Silva, ed., Lesbian Quotations ()
  • ... a woman's success is more likely to be explained by external factors like luck or ease of task, or by high effort, an internal but unstable factor, whereas a man's success is more likely to be attributed to high ability. The reverse is true for explanations of failure; men are said to fail because of hard luck, a hard task, or low effort, whereas women are said to fail because of low ability.

    • Bernice Lott,
    • "The Devalutaion of Women's Competence," in Janis S. Bohan, ed., Seldom Seen, Rarely Heard: Women's Place in Psychology ()
  • A woman's work, from the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed, is as hard as a day at war, worse than a man's working day. ... To men, women's work was like the rain-bringing clouds, or the rain itself. The task involved was carried out every day as regularly as sleep. So men were happy — men in the Middle Ages, men at the time of the Revolution, and men in 1986: everything in the garden was lovely.

  • [On the New Testament:] I ... must enter my protest against the false translation of some passages by the men who did that work, and against the perverted interpretation by the men who undertook to write commentaries thereon. I am inclined to think, when we [women] are admitted to the honor of studying Greek and Hebrew, we shall produce some various readings of the Bible a little different from those we now have.

  • No one can scan the shelves of teen-age reading matter without being struck with the fact that girls are evidently not expected to join in the fun. There are no heroines following the shining paths of romantic adventure, as do the heroes of boys' books. For instance, who ever heard of a girl — a pleasant one — shipping on an oil tanker, say, finding the crew about to mutiny and saving the captain's life (while quelling the mutiny) with a well-aimed disabling pistol shot at the leader of the gang! No, goings-on of this sort are left to masculine characters, to be lived over joyously by the boy readers.

  • It has always seemed to me that boys and girls are educated very differently. Even from the early grades, they take different subjects. For instance, boys are usually put into woodworking classes, and girls into sewing and cooking — willy-nilly. I know many boys who should, I am sure, be making pies and girls who are much better fitted for manual training than domestic science. Too often little attention is paid to individual talent. Instead, education goes on dividing people according to their sex, and putting them in little feminine or masculine pigeonholes.

  • ... there is nothing more irritating to a feminist than the average 'Woman's Page' of a newspaper, with its out-dated assumption that all women have a common trade interest in the household arts, and a common leisure interest in clothes and the doings of 'high society.' Women's interests to-day are as wide as the world. I doubt if there is anything from deep-sea fishing to high-altitude flying that is not of absorbing interest to some woman somewhere.

    • Cyrstal Eastman,
    • "What Shall We Do With the Woman's Page?" in Time and Tide ()
  • The figure of a handsome woman, blindfolded, holding a pair of scales in her outstretched, majestic hand, was used by Man to symbolize the Spirit of Justice long before he admitted any of her sex to the bar or jury duty ... Man has always liked to have some woman, especially one about eight feet high and of earnest aspect, to represent his ideas or inventions. At the same time, of course, he anxiously thwarted her attempts to utilize the inventions or pursue the theories he held. Thus, he wanted women to be illiterate, but to represent the Spirit of Education ... He wanted some smiling damsel to typify Architecture for him, but never to build his houses. And, much as he insisted on having his women folk meek and shy, he was always portraying them blowing trumpets and leading his armies to war.

    • Miriam Beard,
    • "Woman Springs from Allegory to Life," in The New York Times ()
  • The volumes which record the history of the human race are filled with the deeds and the words of great men ... [but] The Twentieth Century Woman ... questions the completeness of the story.

    • Mary Ritter Beard,
    • "The Twentieth-Century Woman Looking Around and Backward," Young Oxford ()
  • [On the ERA Equality March:] It's the funniest thing. I don't feel there's any discrimination. I know my husband feels that way.

    • Pat Nixon,
    • 1969, in Judith Paterson, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt ()
  • [On Aphra Behn:] Like all women who break out of the stereotype she was subjected to the process that begins with detraction and ends in oblivion.

  • I've been working for over 40 years and the worst curse I could put on any man is: 'In your next life may you be born a talented and creative woman.'

    • Ursula Nordstrom,
    • 1974, in Leonard S. Marcus, ed., Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom ()
  • 'She does her work better than a man,' said the elder Vorland. 'And as she is a woman, I pay her only half his salary,' he added to himself.

  • A woman's suffering is never above half known, for the fact of the publicity of her wrongs is counted to her for disgrace.

  • One ought to be against racism and sexism because they are wrong, not because one is black or one is female.

  • [On subtle gender discrimination:] Psychologists call these small but relentless I'm-not-even-sure-if-I'm-imagining-it-perhaps-I'm being-too-sensitive interactions 'micro-aggressions,' and they cite evidence that for women as well as other marginalized groups, these micro-aggressions take more of a psychological toll than overt, hate-filled attacks.

  • ... gender biases ... have, in our more enlightened spheres, retreated largely to an unconscious level, yet they are all the more powerful for that, making women hesitant to enter the fray and increasing the likelihood that, when they do, their temerity will be rewarded by their being dismissed, sidelined, sloppily and mockingly misconstrued, or — the most elegant of all obliterations — merely ignored. It's all so civilly done that you're never sure that it isn't your own shortcomings being justly evaluated.

  • When I was young, if a girl married poverty, she bcame a drudge; if she married wealth, she became a doll.

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • in Ida Husted Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony ()
  • I have often been asked whether I am a woman or an athlete. The question is absurd. Men are not asked that. I am an athlete. I am a woman.

  • [On golf's double standards:] When we complain about conditions, we're just bitches. But when the men complain, people think, 'Well, it really must be hard.'

  • [On being told a newspaper didn't have women on its foreign affairs staff:] I can't change my sex. But you can change your policy.

    • Helen Kirkpatrick,
    • 1940, in Julia Edwards, Women of the World: The Great Foreign Correspondents ()
  • I'm amazed by how many people I meet can't wrap their head around what I do. It's not disrespect to me. But it bothers me that they just can't imagine it — a girl who drives monster trucks.

    • Rosalee Ramer,
    • in Justin Berton, "Girl, 16, crushes competition in monster trucks and math," San Francisco Chronicle ()
  • Not too long ago we were referred to as dolls, tomatoes, chicks, babes, broads. We've graduated to being called tough cookies, foxes, bitches and witches. I guess that's progress.

    • Barbra Streisand,
    • 1992, in Sara Ann Friedman, Work Matters: Women Talk About Their Jobs and Their Lives ()
  • A man is commanding — a woman is demanding. A man is forceful — a woman is pushy. A man is uncompromising — a woman is a ball-breaker. A man is a perfectionist — a woman's a pain in the ass. He's assertive — she's aggressive. He strategizes — she manipulates. He shows leadership — she's controlling. He's committed — she's obsessed. He's persevering — she's relentless. He sticks to his guns — she's stubborn. If a man wants to get it right, he's looked up to and respected. If a woman wants to get it right, she's difficult and impossible.

    • Barbra Streisand,
    • speech at the Women in Film luncheon (1986), in Lynda Obst, Hello, He Lied--And Other Truths From the Hollywood Trenches ()
  • If a man wants to get it right, he's looked up to and respected. If a woman wants to get it right, she's difficult or impossible. If he acts, produces and directs, he's called multitalented. If she does the same thing, she's called vain and egotistical.

  • You don't ask a man, 'Do you want to be in control [of your job]?' You assume he wants control. Why would a woman be any different?

  • Why is it men are permitted to be obsessed about their work, but women are only permitted to be obsessed about men?

  • The flour-merchant, the house-builder, and the postman charge us no less on account of our sex; but when we endeavor to earn money to pay all these, then, indeed, we find the difference.

    • Lucy Stone,
    • 1855, in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. I ()
  • People are just not very ambitious for women still. Your son you want to be the best he can be. Your daughter you want to be happy.

  • When CBS sportscaster Ben Wright claimed women don't make good golfers because their 'boobs' get in the way of their swings, I thought, 'Two words, Ben. Beer. Gut.'

  • Legislation and case law still exist in some parts of the United States permitting the 'passion shooting' by a husband of a wife; the reverse, of course, is known as homicide.

    • Diane B. Schulder,
    • "Does the Law Oppress Women?" in Robin Morgan, Sisterhood Is Powerful ()
  • [After a speech proposing the ERA to the New Jersey State Assembly:] One of my colleagues rose and ... said, 'I just don't like this amendment; I've always thought of women as kissable and cuddly and smelling good!' It was the kind of thing you really don't believe. The only answer, of course, was, 'That's the way I've always felt about men and I hope, for your sake, that you haven't been disappointed as often as I have.

  • Nowhere have women been more excluded from decision-making than in the military and foreign affairs. When it comes to the military and questions of nuclear disarmament, the gender gap becomes the gender gulf.

  • ... how many times would a defendant's lawyer enter the courtroom before a session and ask each of the male clerks and paralegals around me, 'Are you the assistant in charge?' while I sat there invisible to him at the head of the table?

  • No book has yet been written in praise of a woman who let her husband and children starve or suffer while she invented even the most useful things, or wrote books, or expressed herself in art, or evolved philosophic systems.

  • It is an old error of man to forget to put quotation marks where he borrows from a woman's brain!

  • When I learnt, however, that in 1911 there had been twenty-one regular feminist periodicals in Britain, that there was a feminist book shop, a woman's press, and a woman's bank run by and for women, I could no longer accept that the reason I knew almost nothing about women of the past was because there were so few of them, and they had done so little.

  • Well into the 19th century there were pronouncements from just about every branch of science and medicine that reading, writing, and thinking were dangerous for women. Articles in the Lancet declared that women's brains would burst and their uteruses atrophy if they engaged in any form of rigorous thinking. The famous physician J.D. Kellogg insisted that novel reading was the greatest cause of uterine disease among young women and urged parents to protect their daughters from the dreaded consequences of print.

    • Dale Spender,
    • in H. Jeanie Taylor, Cheris Kramarae, and Maureen Ebben, eds., Women, Information Technology, and Scholarship ()
  • ... men have their cake and get to eat it too, for while they decree themselves as representative of humanity, women who argue that men are not, are simply showing how little they know! And when men's standards are defined as human standards, then women who assert that women are different, demonstrate how 'inhuman' they are. It is a real 'Catch 22.'

  • ... men have been in charge of according value to literature, and ... they have found the contributions of their own sex immeasurably superior.

  • For every man with a baseball story — a memory of a moment at the plate or in the field — there is a woman with a couldn't-play-baseball story.

  • Sport has been called the last bastion of male domination. Unfortunately, there are others — Congress, for instance.

  • One evening on reading aloud his daily pages he said, 'I steal from you, don't I?' He laughed and continued reading. ... I asked, 'When you quote me in The Treasure of the Humble why have you put each time, "an old philosopher said ..." or else "an old friend said ..." or "I do not know what sage has said ..." or merely quotation marks?' Astonished, he lifted his head. 'But don't you see it would be ridiculous to mention you. You're on the stage, a singer, nobody would believe me. It would be ridiculous.'

    • Georgette Leblanc,
    • 1898, on Maurice Maeterlinck, in Janet Flanner, trans., Souvenirs: My Life With Maeterlinck ()
  • If the man may preach, because the Savior died for him, why not the woman, seeing he died for her also? Is he not a whole Savior, instead of a half one, as those who hold it wrong for a woman to preach, would seem to make it appear?

    • Jarena Lee,
    • The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee
    • ()
  • I claim that every woman in this century and in our culture sphere who has ventured into male-dominated institutions — 'literature' and 'aesthetics' are such institutions — must have experienced the desire for self-destruction.

  • Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is madness or hysteria or your own unfeminine inadequacy. Women have learned to submit to pain by hearing authority figures — doctors, priests, psychiatrists — tell us that what we feel is not pain.

  • Unlike many of his contemporaries among the deities of the ancient Near East, the God of Israel shared his power with no female divinity, nor was he the divine Husband or Lover of any. He can scarcely be characterized in any but masculine epithets: king, lord, master, judge, and father. Indeed, the absence of feminine symbolism for God marks Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in striking contrast to the world's other religious traditions, whether in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Rome, or in Africa, India, and North America, which abound in female symbolism. Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theologians today are quick to point out that God is not to be considered in sexual terms at all. Yet the actual language they use in daily worship and prayer conveys a different message: who, growing up with Jewish or Christian tradition, has escaped the distinct impression that God is masculine? And while Catholics revere Mary as the mother of Jesus, they never identify her as divine in her own right: if she is 'mother of God,' she is not 'God the Mother' on an equal footing with God the Father!

  • Mammy and Jezebel and the welfare queen may be the most prominent roles for black women in American culture, but even these figures, as limited as is their range, inhabit the shadows of American imagination. ... silence and invisibility are the hallmarks of black women in the imagery of American life.

    • Nell Irvin Painter,
    • "Hill, Thomas, and the Use of Racial Stereotype," in Toni Morrison, ed., Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power ()
  • 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.

  • The church in many places is a sort of potter's field, where the gifts of woman, as so many strangers, are buried.

    • Phoebe Palmer,
    • in Mary Alice Warner and Dayna Beilenson, eds., Women of Faith and Spirit ()
  • There appears to be a disturbing trend in this nation to try to force single moms to choose between their children and their careers. If they take their careers seriously, they are labeled as bad mothers. If they spend time with their children, they are labeled as people who can't be serious about careers outside the home. This is a sexist double standard. No such guilt trip is imposed on men, who are generally not forced to choose between their children and their jobs.

  • ... Gov. [Jerry] Brown said to me, 'Why do you criticize me for not appointing enough women judges?' Then he named some he had appointed. And I said: 'Governor, you can't name all of the male judges you've appointed. When you can't name all of the women judges you've appointed, then you will have appointed enough.'

    • Gloria Allred,
    • in Patt Morrison, "Filner's Nemesis," The Los Angeles Times ()
  • [To the colonel who said the 'young lady' must leave the war front because there might be trouble:] I wouldn't be here if there were no trouble. Trouble is news, and the gathering of news is my job.

  • ... my stories had nothing to do with my banishment. I was being thrown out ... because I was a female and because 'there are no facilities for ladies at the front.'

  • Gentlemen prefer doormats.

  • ... claims about what's 'natural' have long been used to reinforce traditional gender roles and values. ... Even the notion that women should have children at all is based on the idea that a woman's inherent and most important role is that of mother. Shockingly, men's 'innate' roles are a lot more fun than the ones bestowed on women.

  • It's 2013 ... The Time's obituary for Yvonne Brill, renowned rocket scientist, winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovations, leads with, 'She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. "The world's best mom," her son Matthew said.'

  • This is what sexism does best: it makes you feel crazy for desiring parity and hopeless about ever achieving it.

  • ... the number of reviews of books by men is greater than the number of reviews of books by women; the number of male reviewers is greater than the number of female reviewers. Men, in other words, are still the arbiters of taste, the cultural gatekeepers, and the recipients of what little attention still gets paid to books.

  • Women occupy, in great masses, the 'household tasks' of industry. They are nurses but not doctors, secretaries but not executives, researchers but not writers, workers but not managers, bookkeepers but not promoters.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "The Next Great Moment in History Is Theirs," Essays in Feminism ()
  • The Conservative Establishment has always treated women as nannies, grannies and fannies.

  • A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold.

  • I remember praying about it, and begging God that if it were true that because I was a girl I could not successfully master Greek and go to college and understand things to kill me at once, as I could not bear to live in such an unjust world.

    • M. Carey Thomas,
    • in Barbara M. Cross, ed., The Educated Woman in America ()
  • It's hard to explain or believe how male-dominated, male-oriented, and generally misogynistic the world of elite sailing is. I've never experienced anything like it.

  • [Supporting the Sex Discrimination Act:] It's ridiculous to think that half the brains in the country are locked up in female heads and are not being used.

  • This whole society is like slow-dancing. Then men get to lead and the women get stepped on.

  • It's like if a young woman writes it, then it's chick lit. We don't care if she's slaying vampires or working as a nanny or living in Philadelphia. It's chick lit, so who cares? You know what we call what men write? Books.

    • Jennifer Weiner,
    • in Sara Vilkomerson, "Chick Lit to Chick Flicks: Women Flock to Weiner's World," Observer ()
  • I am obnoxious to each carping tongue / Who says my hand a needle better fits, / A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong, / For such despite they cast on female wits: / If what I do prove well, it won't advance, / They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance.

    • Anne Bradstreet,
    • prologue, "The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America" (1650), in John Harvard Ellis, ed, The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse ()
  • It is a man's world at the top, at the bottom, and in between. Men are in the catbird seat as far as income, opportunity, status, and power are concerned. This is the way it always has been and, as far as men are concerned, it is the way it always should be.

  • ... witch-hunting misogyny is fiercely recurrent in this nation, even if its forms vary with the ages.

  • Men always try to keep women out of business so they won't find out how much fun it really is.

    • Vivien Kellems,
    • in Alice Charlotte Goff, Women Can Be Engineers ()
  • [When her husband said her earnings as a married woman belonged to him:] I cannot persuade myself that that which I invent — create, in fact — can belong to anyone but myself! I wish that women could be dealt with, not mercifully, not compassionately, nor affectionately, but justly; it would be so much better — for the men.

    • Fanny Kemble,
    • in Margaret Armstrong, Fanny Kemble: A Passionate Victorian ()
  • 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. ()
  • Here I am a woman attorney being told I can't practice law in slacks by a judge dressed in drag.

  • He's sitting there in a long black dress gathered at the yoke, and I said, 'Judge, if you won't talk about what I'm wearing, I won't talk about what you're wearing,' because it occurred to me that a judge in a skirt telling me not to wear pants was just a little bit ludicrous. It's interesting to speculate how it developed that in two of the most anti-feminist institutions, the church and the law court, the men are wearing the dresses.

  • Men define intelligence, men define usefulness, men tell us what is beautiful, men even tell us what is womanly.

  • During the Renaissance, women were not allowed to attend art school. Everyone asks, where are the great women painters of the Renaissance?

  • Fie on the falsehood of men, whose minds go oft a madding, and whose tongues can not so soon be wagging, but straight they fall a railing.

  • Eve was framed.

  • What I'm working for is the day when a mediocre woman can get as far as a mediocre man.

  • How to tell a businessman from a businesswoman: A businessman is aggressive; a businesswoman is pushy. A businessman is good on details; she's picky. He loses his temper at times because he's so involved in his work; she's bitchy. He knows how to follow through; she doesn't know when to quit. He stands firm; she's hard. He's a man of the world; she's been around. He isn't afraid to say what he thinks; she's mouthy. He drinks martinis because of excessive job pressures; she's a lush. He exercises authority diligently; she's power mad. He's climbed the ladder of success; she's slept her way to the top. He's a stern taskmaster; she's hard to work for!

    • Anonymous,
    • in Marilyn Loden, Feminine Leadership ()
  • As women win more and more gains in the drive for equality and as the traditional roles begin to blur and fuse, the exclusivity of men's sports seems to become even more entrenched. In fact, in many ways sports seem to be a kind of last bastion of male supremacy.

  • [On Margaret Thatcher:] It is ironic that the wife who made Britain great again, and who is the leader of the Western World, has to get her husband to sign her tax form.

  • It's time to take the 'Men Only' sign off the White House door.

  • Nothing could be more grotesquely unjust than a code of morals, reinforced by laws, which relieves men from responsibility for irregular sexual acts, and for the same acts drives women to abortion, infanticide, prostitution, and self-destruction.

  • A woman president would be great because she would save the country money, because she would make half of what a man president makes.

    • Maureen Murphy,
    • in Mary Unterbrink, Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 ()
  • Affirmative action, welfare state, and welfare queen have become a mantra, evoked as single (albeit complicated) signs for and of everything wrong with the United States ...

    • Wahneema Lubiano,
    • "Black Ladies, Welfare Queens, and State Minstrels: Ideological War by Narrative Means," in Toni Morrison, ed., Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power ()
  • The welfare queen represents moral aberration and an economic drain, but the figure's problematic status becomes all the more threatening once responsibility for the destruction of the 'American way of life' is attributed to it.

    • Wahneema Lubiano,
    • "Black Ladies, Welfare Queens, and State Minstrels: Ideological War by Narrative Means," in Toni Morrison, ed., Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power ()
  • ... men, who merely for being men believe they are wise ...

    • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,
    • 1691, in Margaret Sayers Peden, trans., A Woman of Genius: The Intellectual Autobiography of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz ()
  • Anonymous: Prolific female author. Has written hundreds of thousands of books, articles, poems, essays, memos, broadsides, and treatises. Under this name many women for centuries have written, published, or produced art, either deliberately to avoid the problems and punishments awaiting the woman artist or by default because their names were lost or forgotten.

    • Paula A. Treichler,
    • in Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler, A Feminist Dictionary ()
  • [Sexism is] behavior, policy, language, or other action of men or women which expresses the institutionalized, systematic, comprehensive, or consistent view that women are inferior.

    • Cheris Kramarae,
    • in Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler, A Feminist Dictionary ()
  • That's the history of the world. His story is told, hers isn't.

  • Was there ever any so abused, so slandered, so railed upon, so wickedly handled undeservedly, as are we women.

  • [When her White Paper on Iraq was submitted to both houses of Parliament:] The general line taken by the press seems to be that it's most remarkable that a dog should be able to stand up on its hind legs — i.e. a female write a white paper. I hope they'll drop that source of wonder and pay attention to the report itself.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1921, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • The idea that a woman should be foolhardy or ignorant enough to dare to enter Africa from the east coast and attempt to penetrate interior as far as the Kilimanjaro district of the late Masai raids ... as the sole leader and commander of her own caravan, — the thing was preposterous, and the woman boldly denounced as mad, mad, principally because there was no precedent for such a venture; it was a thorough innovation of accepted proprieties. It never had been done, never even suggested, hence it must be impossible, or at least utterly impracticable, and certainly outside a woman's province.

  • I talked to so many men. I walked into room after room after room of men who got to sit around and discuss whether they thought this movie was something that would appeal to women.

  • The suppression of women's rights began with the suppression of women's rites.

  • How different the reasoning is that men adopt when they are discussing the cases of men and those of women.

  • If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women's names.

    • Elaine Gill,
    • in Editor and Publisher's e-newsletter ()
  • Most of the men I talk to ... ask me to play one-on-one. If you’ve ever had that impulse, let me stop you here. I’m not going to play you one-on-one. I’m never going to play you one-on-one. I have been playing basketball my entire life, and for just as long I have been challenged by men who think they are better than me.

  • There’s something about basketball that activates men’s egos. It’s almost as if they still consider it a sport that women should not be playing.

  • There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield ... that what women know about is a lesser category of knowledge.

  • Many men are behaving like we live in a zero-sum game, that if women get the respect, access, and value they deserve, men will lose theirs. But when you light someone else's torch with your own, you don't lose your fire, you just make more light and more heat. Light a woman's torch. The light will multiply and the heat will intensify for all of us.

    • Natalie Portman,
    • "Six Ways to Support Women in the Workplace," ACLU Magazine ()
  • ... nobody alive or dead deserves to be called a poetess.

  • 'Slut' used to mean a slovenly woman. Now it means a woman who will go to bed with everyone. This is considered a bad thing in a woman, although perfectly fabulous in a man. 'Bitch' means a woman who will go to bed with everyone but you.

  • Give us that grand word 'woman' once again, / And let's have done with 'lady'; one's a term / Full of fine force, strong, beautiful, and firm, / Fit for the noblest use of tongue or pen; / And one's a word for lackeys.

  • Sexist grammar burns into the brains of little girls and young woman a message that the male is the norm, the standard, the central figure beside which we are the deviants, the marginal, the dependent variables. It lays the foundation for androcentric thinking, and leaves men safe in their solipsistic tunnel-vision.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Taking Women Students Seriously," in Evelyn Ashton-Jones and Gary A. Olson, The Gender Reader ()
  • 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.'

  • [After being corrected by a grammarian for using the feminine pronoun instead of the pseudogeneric masculine:] As you please, but for my part, if I were to express myself so, I should fancy I had a beard.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • in M. Ph. A. Grouvelle, "Biographical Sketch" (1696), The Letters of Madame de Sévigné, vol. 1 ()
  • In many patriarchies, language, as well as cultural tradition, reserve the human condition for the male. With the Indo-European languages this is a nearly inescapable habit of mind, for despite all the customary pretense that 'man' and 'humanity' are terms which apply equally to both sexes, the fact is hardly obscured that in practice, general application favors the male far more often than the female as referent, or even sole referent, for such designations.

  • Language changes. If it does not change, like Latin it dies. But we need to be aware that as our language changes, so does our theology change, particularly if we are trying to manipulate language for a specific purpose. That is what is happening with our attempts at inclusive language, which thus far have been inconclusive and unsuccessful.

  • In reality, all communication that debilitates females also debilitates males, for if any system diminishes a part of the species, it diminishes all of it.

  • Interesting, isn't it, that even though more than two and a half decades have passed since the sexual revolution brought women a new measure of sexual freedom, there's still no word in the language that doesn't reek with pejorative connotation to describe a woman who has sex freely. Since language frames thought and sets its limits, this is not a trivial matter. For without a word that describes without condemning, it's hard to think about it neutrally as well. When we say the words 'promiscuous woman,' therefore, it's a statement about her character, not just her sexual behavior.

  • We need only look at the language we use about men, women and sex to understand the differences. Men score, they make it, they collect notches — language that connotes conquest and accomplishment. Women are seduced, they're taken, they give up their virginity — words that suggest submission and loss. He's the actor, she the acted-upon. He gains status; she loses it as she gives up this socially prized commodity. He's a stud; she's too easy, a slut.

  • 'When you say Man,' said Oedipus, 'you include women / too. Everyone knows that.' She said, 'That's what / you think.'

  • The dictionary is, however, only a rough draft.

    • Monique Wittig,
    • in Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig, Lesbian Peoples ()
  • They say that there is no reality before it has been given shape by words rules regulations. They say that in what concerns them everything has to be remade starting from basic principles. They say that in the first place the vocabulary of every language is to be examined, modified, turned upside down, that every word must be screened.

  • [On using 'seminal' for 'germinal/groundbreaking,' etc.:] If we believe what newspapers and magazines tell us, intellectual and literary prowess flows from Man's Most Cherished Protuberance. ... The apologist for biased language usage will, of course dismiss such matters as trivial. But I think they make a vas deferens.

  • In any social movement, when changes are effected, the language sooner or later reflects the change. Our approach is different. Instead of passively noting the change, we are changing language patterns to actively effect the changes.

  • Studies have shown that the terms girl and lady have pejorative connotations: They conjure images of someone weaker and lazier; someone more nervous, afraid, dependent, immature, and inconsiderate; someone less sexy, intelligent, and certainly less charismatic than 'woman.' Indeed, the term woman is overwhelmingly interpreted as more favorable and is most often used to describe adult females who deserve respect.

    • Pat Heim,
    • with Susan K. Golant, Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business ()
  • Absolute freedom doesn't exist and never did. Just as we don't spit on the floor at work, swear at customers, or send out letters full of misspellings, so too we might have to 'watch our language.' It is odd that the request for unbiased language in schools and workplaces is considered intolerable when other limits on our freedom to do whatever we want are not.

  • I believe the deeply rooted semantic confusion between 'man' as a male and 'man' as a species has been fed back into and vitiated a great deal of the speculation that goes on about the origins, development, and nature of the human race.

  • According to the dictionary: 'in modern apprehension man as thus used' [in the sense of 'person'] 'primarily denotes the male sex, though by implication referring also to women.' I am not sure that 'by implication' fully expresses the degree to which I wish to feel included in the human race.

  • It is no accident that the -ette form used to mean female in majorette is also used to mean small or diminutive in kitchenette and to mean imitated in leatherette.

  • If a woman is swept off a ship into the water, the cry is 'Man overboard!' If she is killed by a hit-and-run driver, the charge is 'manslaughter!' If she is injured on the job, the coverage is 'workman's compensation!' But if she arrives at a threshold marked 'Men Only,' she knows the admonition is not intended to bar animals or plants or inanimate objects. It is meant for her.

    • Alma Graham,
    • "The Making of a Nonsexist Dictionary," in B. Thorne and N. Henley, eds., Language and Sex: Difference and Dominance ()
  • For hundreds of years the use of the word 'man' has troubled critical scholars, careful translators, and lawyers. Difficulties occur whenever and wherever it is important for truth-seeking purposes to know what is being talked about and the context gives no intimation whether 'man' means just a human being irrespective of sex or means a masculine being and none other.

  • It is urged that the use of the masculine pronouns he, his, and him in all the constitutions and laws, is proof that only men were meant to be included in their provisions. If you insist on this version of the letter of the law, we shall insist that you be consistent and accept the other horn of the dilemma, which would compel you to exempt women from taxation for the support of the government and from penalties for the violation of laws. There is no she or her or hers in the tax laws, and this is equally true of all the criminal laws.

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • 1872, in Ida Husted Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony ()
  • Whether consciously or not, sexist God language undermines the human equality of women made in the divine image and likeness.

  • ... the way in which a faith community shapes language about God implicity represents what it takes to be the highest good, the profoundest truth, the most appealing beauty. ... While officially it is rightly and consistently said that God is spirit and so beyond identification with either male or female sex, yet the daily language of preaching, worship, catechesis, and instruction conveys a different message: God is male, or at least more like a man than a woman, or at least more fittingly addressed as male than as female.

  • Dear sirs, man to man, manpower, craftsman, working men, the thinking man, the man in the street, fellow countrymen, the history of mankind, one-man show, man in his wisdom, statesman, forefathers, masterful, masterpiece, old masters, the brotherhood of man, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, sons of free men, faith of our fathers, god the father, god the son, yours fraternally, amen. Words fail me.

  • [On men in public office 'womanizing':] There's no such word as 'man-izer.' You couldn't get away with it. Never!

  • This monopoly over language is one of the means by which males have ensured their own primacy, and consequently have ensured the invisibility or 'other' nature of females ...

  • ... what has been termed 'correct' English is nothing other than the blatant legitimation of the white middle-class code.

  • I identify myself as an actor, because I feel like you don't go to the doctress, you go to the doctor; it doesn't matter what the gender is. I think actresses worry about eyelashes and cellulite, and women who are actors worry about the characters we are playing. A separate category is another way of making us a special-interest group.

  • Unlike many of his contemporaries among the deities of the ancient Near East, the God of Israel shared his power with no female divinity, nor was he the divine Husband or Lover of any. He can scarcely be characterized in any but masculine epithets: king, lord, master, judge, and father. Indeed, the absence of feminine symbolism for God marks Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in striking contrast to the world's other religious traditions, whether in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Rome, or in Africa, India, and North America, which abound in female symbolism. Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theologians today are quick to point out that God is not to be considered in sexual terms at all. Yet the actual language they use in daily worship and prayer conveys a different message: who, growing up with Jewish or Christian tradition, has escaped the distinct impression that God is masculine? And while Catholics revere Mary as the mother of Jesus, they never identify her as divine in her own right: if she is 'mother of God,' she is not 'God the Mother' on an equal footing with God the Father!

  • I am an actor; I don't understand actress. You don't call doctors 'doctoresses' or 'doctorettes,' you call them 'doctors.'

  • An actress can only play a woman. I'm an actor. I can play anything.

  • ... conventional English usage, including the generic use of masculine-gender words, often obscures the actions, the contributions, and sometimes the very presence of women. Turning our backs on that insight is an option, of course, but it is an option like teaching children that the world is flat.

    • Casey Miller,
    • in Casey Miller and Kate Swift, The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing ()
  • Almost everything can be construed as sexual harassment depending upon the way it is said. One general rule of thumb is to think of your female co-workers as you would your sister. Yes, she is a woman. No, she is not a sexual object. Yes, your parents probably like her more than they like you.

  • The only women who don't believe that sexual harassment is a real problem in this country are women who have never been in the workplace.

  • ... all your fine officials debauch the young girls who are afraid to lose their jobs: that's as old as Washington.

  • Sexual harassment is complex, subtle, and highly subjective. But you know when it's happening.

  • ... I have been the victim of many of the injustices that women who are my clients have had. That is how I understand how this is impacting their lives economically, psychologically, often physically. It's all personal. For me, if one woman is denied her rights, we're all being denied our rights.

    • Gloria Allred,
    • in Patt Morrison, "Filner's Nemesis," The Los Angeles Times ()
  • ... we need to turn the question around to look at the harasser, not the target. We need to be sure that we can go out and look anyone who is a victim of harassment in the eye and say, 'You do not have to remain silent anymore.'

  • I did what my conscience told me to do, and you can't fail if you do that.

    • Anita Hill,
    • interview, "Sixty Minutes," CBS-TV ()
  • I am hopeful that others who have suffered sexual harassment will not become discouraged by my experience, but instead will find the strength to speak out about this serious problem.

  • He said that if I ever told anyone of his behavior it would ruin his career.

    • Anita Hill,
    • in Anna Quindlen, The New York Times ()
  • It would have been more comfortable to remain silent. I took no initiative to inform anyone. But when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent.

    • Anita Hill,
    • statement to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, alleging sexual harassment ()
  • Sexual harassment at work ... is it a problem for the self-employed?

  • The agenda in sexual activity, whether it's appropriate or not, has to do with lust, affection, passion, love, but the agenda in sexual harassment is not any of that. It is power, control, dominance. The tool is the same on both, but the agenda is completely different. That's what distinguishes the two.

  • ... albinos aren't reproached for having pink eyes and whitish hair, why should they hold it again me for being a lesbian? It's a question of nature: my queerness isn't a vice, isn't 'deliberate,' and harms no one.

  • ... if you removed all of the homosexuals and homosexual influence from what is generally regarded as American culture, you would be pretty much left with Let's Make a Deal.

  • I'm a heterosexual. I don't know why I'm like this. I was just born this way.

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • They say lesbians hate men. How can they? They don't have to fuck them.

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • ... being homosexual doesn't determine a man's whole character any more than being heterosexual does.

  • It is so true that a woman may be in love with a woman, and a man with a man. It is pleasant to be sure of it, because it is undoubtedly the same love that we shall feel when we are angels ...

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • in Mason Wade, Margaret Fuller, Whetstone of Genius ()
  • Oh, you mean I'm a homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual too, but what's that got to do with my headache?

    • Edna St. Vincent Millay,
    • replying to psychoanalyst who asked if she was aware of "an occasional impulse toward a person of your own sex," in Jean Gould, The Poet and Her Book ()
  • Once you know what women are like, men get kind of boring. I'm not trying to put them down, I mean I like them sometimes as people, but sexually they're dull.

  • ... sex has never been private and it never will be. We perform the act in private but we must be public about the connection. Sex is how we pass down worldly goods. It's how we create the primary unit of our society, the couple. ... This rule applies to gay people as well as straight people. ... The community absolutely must know who is straight, who is gay, who is married, and who is single. Without that information we make painful mistakes and lose time.

  • If Michaelangelo were a heterosexual, the Sistine Chapel would have been painted basic white and with a roller.

  • Martina was so far in the closet she was in danger of being a garment bag.

  • I became a lesbian out of devout Christian charity. All those women out there are praying for a man and I gave them my share.

  • ... many lesbians were so far in the closet they were in danger of being mistaken for garment bags.

  • The only people who are queer are the people who don't love anybody.

  • As a Black lesbian feminist comfortable with the many different ingredients of my identity, and a woman committed to racial and sexual freedom from oppression, I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. But this is a destructive and fragmenting way to live.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Age, Race, Class, and Sex," speech (1980), Sister Outsider ()
  • The love expressed between women is particular and powerful, because we have had to love in order to live: love has been our survival.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • in Joan Wylie Hall, ed., Conversations with Audre Lorde ()
  • The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Judy Oringer, "Anaïs Nin on Women," Ramparts Magazine ()
  • The suppressed lesbian I had been carrying in me since adolescence began to stretch her limbs ...

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Split at the Root," Blood, Bread, and Poetry ()
  • A woman / who loves a woman / is forever young.

  • [On gay men:] Let me say, a more artistic, appreciative group of people for the arts does not exist ... They are more knowledgeable, more loving of the arts. They make the average male look stupid.

  • The loves of women for each other grow more numerous each day, and I have pondered much why these things were. That so little should be said about them surprises me, for they are everywhere ... In these days, when any capable and careful woman can honorably earn her own support, there is no village that has not its examples of 'two hearts in counsel,' both of which are feminine.

  • Celibacy is not natural to men or to women; all bodily needs require their legitimate satisfaction, and celibacy is a disregard of natural law.

  • All coming-out stories are a continuing process. Strangers take a long time to become acquainted, particularly when they are from the same family.

    • M. E. Kerr,
    • "We Might As Well All Be Strangers," in Marion Dane Bauer, ed., Am I Blue? ()
  • Monogamous heterosexual love is probably one of the most difficult, complex and demanding of human relationships.

  • The time has come, I think, when we must recognize bisexuality as a normal form of human behavior.

  • Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality.

  • We're like the Evian water of the '90s. Everyone wants to know a lesbian or to be with a lesbian or just to dress like one.

  • Lesbianism has always seemed to me an extremely inventive response to the shortage of men but otherwise not worth the trouble.

  • ... she recently began contemplating celibacy ('Everybody's not doing it,' she told me last winter) ...

  • Georgeann, Rose-Johnny is a Lebanese. That's all I'm going to tell you. You'll understand better when you're older.

  • In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.

    • Simone de Beauvoir,
    • in John Gerassi, "The Second Sex 25 Years Later: An Interview With Simone de Beauvoir," Society ()
  • Nowadays there is movement that wants to liberate male homosexuals, but female homosexuals don't have to be liberated — they always have been.

  • Without homosexuals there'd be no Hollywood.

  • Lesbian is the word, the label, the condition that holds women in line. When a woman hears this word tossed her way, she knows she is stepping out of line.

    • Radicalesbians,
    • "The Woman Identified Woman," in Anne Koedt, Ellen Levine, and Anita Rapone, eds., Radical Feminism ()
  • A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion.

    • Radicalesbians,
    • "The Woman Identified Woman," in Anne Koedt, Ellen Levine, and Anita Rapone, eds., Radical Feminism ()
  • ... I believe the transsexual urge, at least as I have experienced it, to be far more than a social compulsion, but biological, imaginative, and essentially spiritual, too.

  • I felt the unordinary romance of / women who love women for the first time.

    • Dionne Brand,
    • "Hard Against the Soul," No Language Is Neutral ()
  • Historically, this culture has come to identify lesbians as women who over time, engage in a range and variety of sexual-emotional relationships with women. I, for one, identify a woman as a lesbian who says she is.

    • Cheryl Clarke,
    • "Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • For a woman to be a lesbian in a male-supremacist, capitalist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, imperialist culture, such as that of North America, is an act of resistance.

    • Cheryl Clarke,
    • "Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • I was so excited to be able to say that I was a lesbian that I would shake hands with strangers on the street and say, 'Hi! I'm Sally Gearhart and I'm a lesbian.' Once, appearing on a panel program, I began, 'I'm Sally Lesbian and I'm a gearhart!' I realized then that I had put too much of my identity into being lesbian.

    • Sally Gearhart,
    • in Leigh W. Rutledge, ed., Unnatural Quotations: A Compendium of Quotations by, for, or about Gay People ()
  • The bisexual experience calls into question traditional definitions of the nature of sexual identity development. Fluid, ambiguous, subversive, multifarious, bisexuality can no longer be denied.

    • Rebecca Shuster,
    • 1987, in Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, eds., Bi Any Other Name ()
  • I resent like hell that I was maybe eighteen before I ever heard the 'L' word. It would have made all the difference for me had I grown up knowing that the reason I didn't fit in was because they hadn't told me there were more categories to fit into.

  • What transsexuality emphatically is not is a 'lifestyle,' any more than being male or female is a lifestyle. Gender is many things, but one thing it is surely not is a hobby. What it is, more than anything else, is a fact.

  • ... the most grievous wrong of that day ... was to be found in the establishment of the celibacy of the clergy. ... This hideous doctrine of a celibate priesthood was maintained only by a constant struggle against the better and truer instincts of the heart.

    • Lillie Devereux Blake,
    • 1883, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • There is one thing new in sexual mores and that is today's bisexual chic. ... if you can't truthfully claim to be bisexual yourself, the next best thing is to reveal that one, or both, of your parents was.

  • Love between women is seen as a paradigm of love between equals, and that is perhaps its greatest attraction.

  • There's no gay way to brush your teeth, wash your clothes, or drive a car.

    • Judy Richard,
    • in Brandon Judell, ed., The Gay Quote Book ()
  • Women who love women, who choose women to nurture and support and to create a living environment in which to work creatively and independently, are lesbians.

  • Do you think a man is the only creature with whom one may fall in love?

  • Except two breeds — the stupid and the narrowly feline — all women have a touch of the Lesbian: an assertion all good non-analytic creatures refute with horror, but quite true: there is always the poignant intensive personal taste, the flair of inner-sex, in the tenderest friendships of women.

  • Are there many things in this cool-hearted world so utterly exquisite as the pure love of one woman for another woman?

  • I will be quiet, be still, and know that it is God who put the love for women in my heart.

    • Brigitte M. Roberts,
    • "Be Still and Know," in Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle, eds., Women on Women 2 ()
  • If you swing both ways, you really swing. I just figure you double your pleasure.

  • Closets stand for prisons, not privacy.

  • The Pope runs all over the world condemning homosexuality dressed in high drag. Now I ask you!

    • Robin Tyler,
    • speech at the march on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights ()
  • If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in queer to work. 'Hello, can't work today, still queer.'

    • Robin Tyler,
    • speech at the march on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights ()
  • If you're straight then I'm crooked, but if I'm gay then you're morose.

    • Robin Tyler,
    • on her album Always a bridesmaid, never a groom ()
  • One of the first things a typical lesbian learns is that there is no such thing as a typical lesbian.

  • I truly believe that bisexuality is the natural human condition.

  • In this country, lesbianism is a poverty — as is being brown, as is being a woman, as is being just plain poor. The danger lies in ranking the oppressions.

    • Cherríe Moraga,
    • "La Güera," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • I do believe deeply that all human beings, male and female, are sexual beings, most likely bisexual beings channeled this way and that by cultures terrified of boundary crossings without passports stamped gay or straight.

  • If anybody wants to engage in any kind of sexual activity with any consenting partner, that is their business. Anybody can do anything they damn well please, as long as the relationship isn't exploitive. And I don't feel that legality should have anything to do with it. There are certain bodily functions of mine which I will not allow to be supervised.

  • In the heterosexist imagination, everything that gay people do becomes sexualized. They think that's all we're doing, and unfortunately, it's not. I wish that being a lesbian were as juicy as I think Jesse Helms thinks it is.

  • Because our society is so polarized between homosexuals and heterosexuals, the bisexual closet has two doors.

    • Loraine Hutchins,
    • in Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, eds., Bi Any Other Name ()
  • The word [androgyny] is misbegotten — conveying something like 'John Travolta and Farrah Fawcett-Majors scotch-taped together.'

  • Where sexism and homophobia meet, you get a viciousness the likes of which you have never seen.

    • Sandra Lowe,
    • speech (1989), in Rosemary Silva, ed., Lesbian Quotations ()
  • I think it's interesting that when you play a lesbian, people ask you if you're a lesbian, but if you play a serial killer, nobody asks you if you're a serial killer.

    • Nora Dunn,
    • in Brandon Judell, ed., The Gay Quote Book ()
  • Heterosexuality is dangerous. It tempts you to aim at a perfect duality of desire.

  • We lavender folk spray up, spontaneously flowering in the color we had learned as an identifying mark of our culture when it was subterranean and secret.

  • The tribal attitude said, and continues to say, that Gay people are especially empowered because we are able to identify with both sexes and can see into more than one world at once, having the capacity to see from more than one point of view at a time. And that is also an Indian way of seeing.

  • The walls of the closet are guarded by the dogs of terror, and the inside of the closet is a house of mirrors.

  • Gay culture is far from 'marginal,' being rather 'intersectional,' the conduits between unlike beings.

  • I'm enormously less interested in whom you sleep with than I am in with whom you're prepared to die.

  • Since the beginning of the Movement, lesbianism has been a kind of code word for female resistance.

  • Feminism is the theory; lesbianism is the practice.

    • Ti-Grace Atkinson,
    • in Anne Koedt, Ellen Levine, and Anita Rapone, eds., Radical Feminism ()
  • I hate being called a homosexual because I don't feel that way. It really upsets me ... Being gay can happen in any walk of life, in any world. If you have one gay experience, does that mean you're gay? If you have one heterosexual experience, does that mean you're straight? Life doesn't work quite so cut and dried.

  • It's funny how heterosexuals have lives and the rest of us have 'lifestyles.'

  • All women are lesbians except those who don't know it ...

  • Bisexuality is not so much a cop-out as a fearful compromise.

  • We're here to talk today about everybodyexceptyou. We're working for the rights of everybodyexceptyou. The oppression of everybodyexceptyou has got to end.

    • Susan Carlton,
    • "This poem can be put off no longer," in Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, eds., Bi Any Other Name ()
  • Gays have always been in the military. Alexander the Great was originally Alexander the Fabulous. A gay man invented C-rations. He claims he could never talk anyone into the cilantro garnish. Obviously, gays were not allowed to design the outfits, because we never would have stayed with the earth tones for so long.

  • [On being lesbian:] One pointer: don't come out to your dad in a moving vehicle.

  • [On being asked 'Are you still a lesbian?':] Are you still the alternative?

  • I'm not a one-sex person, and yet I hate the term bisexual. It sounds creepy to me, and I don't think I'm creepy. There are times when I feel downright romantic.

  • Celibacy is exhausting.

  • I claim emphatically that the true invert is born and not made.

    • Radclyffe Hall,
    • in Michael Baker, Our Three Selves: The Life of Radclyffe Hall ()
  • [On homosexuality:] Our love may be faithful even unto death and beyond — yet the world will call it unclean.

  • [On homosexuality:] You're neither unnatural, nor abominable, nor mad; you're as much a part of what people call nature as anyone else; only you're unexplained as yet — you've not got your niche in creation.

  • Being queer is like being on a lifetime assignment as a secret agent in some foreign country.

  • Bisexuality invalidates either/or formulation, either/or analysis ... If you are free, you are not predictable and you are not controllable. To my mind, that is the keenly positive, politicizing significance of bisexual affirmation: To insist upon complexity, to insist upon the equal validity of all of the components of social/sexual complexity.

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • What tyranny could exceed a tyranny that dictates to the human heart?

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • I don't know what I am, dahling. I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic. And the others give me either stiff neck or lockjaw.

  • If homosexuality were the normal way, God would have made Adam and Bruce.

  • I don't hate homosexuals. I love homosexuals. It's the sin of homosexuality I hate.

  • [On homosexuality:] I'm more inclined [now] to say live and let live.

  • Our very strength as lesbians lies in the fact that we are outside of patriarchy; our existence challenges its life.

    • Charlotte Bunch,
    • "Not for Lesbians Only" (1975), Passionate Politics ()
  • Passionate love between women has always existed. In all parts of the world, through all periods of history, women have found ways to be together.

    • Becky Butler,
    • "A History of Lesbian Partnerships," in Becky Butler, ed., Ceremonies of the Heart ()
  • The lesbian is a mental energy which gives breath and meaning to the most positive of images a woman can have of herself.

  • Lesbians are the poets of the humanity of women ...

  • The lesbian is a threatening reality for reality.

  • A lesbian is a radical or she is not a lesbian.

  • A lesbian who does not reinvent the world is a lesbian in the process of disappearing.

  • What do I care if they love men, women or canaries!

    • Countess G.,
    • in Natalie Clifford Barney, Traits et Portraits ()
  • I don't consider my homosexuality a political thing. I consider it a sexual and spiritual thing. I only started going to political rallies to meet women.

    • k.d. lang,
    • in David Blanton, Queer Notions ()
  • There is nothing more engaging and amazing than a gay man or woman who is completely comfortable with his or her orientation and self. I've always loved being around queer people who refused to — saw no need to — feel ashamed or to apologize for what and who they are. Quite simply, they loved themselves. What a breath of fresh air that was after the dank, miserable odors of the closet!

  • [On gays in the military:] If we wanted to be part of an institution that is hostile to gays and women, we'd just stay home with our families.

  • If Lesbians were purple, none would be admitted to respected places. But if all Lesbians suddenly turned purple today, society would be surprised at the number of purple people in high places.

    • Barbara J. Love,
    • in Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-On Woman ()
  • Once a woman is known as a Lesbian, both she and society often feel that no other fact about her can rival the sexual identification. ... No matter what a Lesbian achieves, her sexuality will remain her primary identity.

    • Barbara J. Love,
    • in Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-On Woman ()
  • A Lesbian who consents to guilt for her sexual preference is her own worst oppressor. She accepts and internalizes prejudices and uses them against herself.

    • Sidney Abbott,
    • in Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-On Woman ()
  • The Lesbian is one of the least known members of our culture. Less is known about her — and less accurately — than about the Newfoundland dog.

    • Sidney Abbott,
    • in Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love, Sappho Was a Right-On Woman ()