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100 feminist phrases of great thinkers of History

100 feminist phrases of great thinkers of History

April 29, 2024

In this article you can find 100 famous feminist phrases by authors recognized worldwide as Gloria Steinem, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen or Naomi Wolf.

From this compilation of reflections we can intuit the motivations, concerns and intellectual objectives of this movement throughout different historical stages.

  • Related article: "Micromachismos: 4 subtle samples of everyday machismo"

Feminist activism

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, feminism is defined as: "ideology that defines that women should have the same opportunities as men".

Despite this shallow definition, the debate about what is and should be feminism is still very topical , and the different currents of this movement make it happen to talk about "feminisms" to reflect this plurality. For example, a part of this social and political movement defends gender equality as a common goal first, while another places the defense of a new femininity at the center of their demands.


Feminism is something more than the above and brings together a series of ideas, thoughts and historical facts that explain its essence much better than the meanings mentioned. To do this, we will expose the 100 feminist phrases of the great authors of modern and contemporary history.

  • Related article: "Types of feminism and its different currents of thought"

100 feminist phrases to remember

Below you can see an extensive compilation of blunt phrases about feminism from the mouths of different types of well-known personalities: artists, politicians, thinkers ... Which one do you think is the most appropriate?

1. Feminism is the ability to choose what you want to do (Nancy Reagan)

This famous phrase refers to feminism not only as a movement against the role of women, but also as their own integrity and ability to decide their own personality.


2. I am strong, I am ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a "bitch", it's okay (Madonna)

The famous queen of pop had some hard beginnings in the world of music. He was the singer when breaking all the feminine molds of the angelic singer, and opted for a brazen style.

4. A woman without a man, is like a fish without a bicycle (Gloria Steinem)

In the middle of the 20th century, this famous journalist was in the eye of the hurricane (for the tremendously macho society of the time) for its radical feminist comments. This phrase comes to say that man is totally dispensable.

5. Feminism is not only for women, it is allowing everyone to have a fuller life (Jane Fonda)

As has been said before, here is another author who does not overreach the feminist movement as something exclusive to women, but tries to reach people above gender.


6. "Feminism" is a radical notion that women are human beings (Cheris Chramarae)

Phrase extracted from the "Feminist Dictionary", wanted to emphasize that the movement fought so that the woman was seen as any other person and not as an object, sexual in most of the times.

7. I refuse to act in the way that men want me to act (Madonna)

The famous artist returned to surprise with these statements. Criticized severely by her image of "antiheroine", many began to question her professionalism, calling her a provocateur and symbol of sin.

8. I hate men who fear the force of women (Anaïs Nin)

This phrase explains the relationship between the rejection of feminism by men with their own fears to see in the woman an emancipated and powerful entity .

9. Anyone who hates something is feeling threatened by it (Neil Strauss)

Following the previous example, this time in the opinion of a man, reference is made to the fact that fear is the first cause of confrontation with the feminist movement.

10. The issue that women have not learned yet is that nobody has given them that power. They just take it (Roseanne Barr)

The women were subjected by the system, assembled by men, for centuries, and that explains why it cost them so much to fight for their rights. They had to use unconventional methods to make themselves heard.

11. The word feminism needs to be rescued. It needs to be claimed in a way that is inclusive for man (Annie Lennox)

Once again, another author stresses the importance of including men in the collective feminist consciousness. It should not be a fight of the ladies, but of them too.

12. No woman has an orgasm cleaning the kitchen floor. (Betty Friedan)

For centuries, attempts have been made to convince society that women are in their natural habitat when they occupy household chores.Betty did not agree very much and presented a very explicit analogy.

13. Feminism is not based on hating man, it is fighting against the absurd gender distinction (Robert Webb)

Another man who joins the feminist claim. Break the boundaries of gender in every way.

14. I know enough to understand that no woman should marry a man who hates his mother. (Martha Gellhorn)

Martha Gelhorn was a specialist in gender psychology , and established a nexus between the son-mother relationship. Sentenced that the relationship between the two would determine the sentimental partner of a woman.

15. Feminism is hated because women are hated (Andrea Dworkin)

Some thinkers and expert intellectuals compared the rejection of feminism with the hatred that the masculine society had with the opposite sex.

16. A feminist is anyone who recognizes equality and full humanity in women and men (Gloria Steinem)

This American journalist also emphasized a shared struggle between the two sexes, without any distinction or putting one gender above the other.

17. What? Do you think that feminism means to hate men? (Cindy Lauper)

Cindy Lauper harshly criticized the misconception that was held about feminism. Arguing with an anonymous man on the subject he observed how wrong he was with the values ​​of the movement.

18. Men fear that women laugh at them. Women fear that men will kill them (Margaret Atwood)

A very accurate report to explain the shortcomings of civil society, where women they receive degrading treatment against the male sex .

19. The freedom to be You and Me (Ruth Bader)

Luth Bader wanted to explain with this phrase that both man and woman should not give up their personality or dreams for one or the other. Being a couple does not exclude having personalities within the relationship.

20. I will not be a free woman while women are still subdued (Audre Lorde)

This American activist was in all the editorials and media reporting the poor conditions in which women lived around the world, regardless of whether she was directly affected or not.

21. When a man gives his opinion, he is a man. When a woman does it, she's a whore (Bette Davis)

This reflects the differential treatment that was given to women in the same case, and how the result was radically opposed.

22. If you pretend to be strong, better to have a pussy. This thing holds all the blows! (Sheng Wang)

An unorthodox way to claim the role of women in society. The female genitals represent the occasions in which the women resist the discriminatory treatment on the part of the man.

23. Nobody knows me or loves me completely. I only have myself (Simone de Beauvoir)

In this sentence reference is made to the dependence of women with men, something wrong and that the author Simone encourages women to know how to take care of themselves.

24. Man is from Earth, woman is from Earth. Live with it (George Carling)

Geroge Carling explained that women come from the same place as men, avoiding denigrations such as that the female sex is inferior or is conceived differently.

25. What is the worst thing that can be called a man? Slut, woman, fagot ... (Jessica Valenti)

Jessica Valenti was very clear with this phrase to show how badly the woman is treated even from an unconscious point of view , as is the insult to man.

26. Equality is like gravity, a necessity (Joss Whedon)

Another male author who advocated equality above all, without distinctions or palliatives.

27. Male opposition to female independence is perhaps more interesting than independence itself (Virginia Woolf)

Some characters like Virginia Wolf, did not leave their amazement to see how complex was the acceptance of feminism in the macho society.

28. I do not remember reading any book that does not talk about the instability of women. Maybe because they were written by men (Jane Austen)

In this sentence the elaborate and intentional image that male authors made for women is explained, always inventing a weak and unbalanced character.

29. A woman who has no control over her body, can not be a free woman (Margaret Sanger)

Above all, there was respect in the purely physical aspect of the woman, over the intellectual, Being considered an object of sexual desire , one had to know how to manage his body to take the next step.

30. Society will remain behind until we liberate women, praise them or educate them (Saddam Hussein)

As surprising as it may seem, the Iraqi leader recited this phrase in one of his public exhibitions. The president of Iraq universalized the studies and made his was one of the first Arab countries to educate women.

31. Do you really believe that everything that is said about men - and women - is true? All those stories were written by men, who only tell the truth by accident (Moderata Fonte)

Moderata Fonte put emphasis on what historians' books said, taking into account that most scholars were men.

32. Feminism is not sharing "the cake" between both sexes, is to make a new one (Gloria Steinem)

Gloria Steinem returned to give a new idea to feminism: to start from scratch, creating something totally different from the already preconceived.

33. Feminism also benefits men (Karin Slaughter)

This phrase explains the win-win situation that feminism entails, since men should not worry about having to take on all the economic responsibilities of the home, as long as they let their wife work.

34. If feminism were not so powerful, people would not try to belittle it (Jessica Valenti)

Jessica Valenti gave this approach to explain the fierce confrontation that feminism endured every time it manifested.

35. Being a woman is like being Irish. Everyone tells you that you are important and nice, but we are always in the background (Iris Murdoch)

This writer explained in this way the little seriousness with which the feminist struggle was treated. Even in theoretical acceptance , in reality there were still no significant changes.

36. Laws, customs and politics. Everything is set to remember that woman is made for man (Elizabeth Cady)

In this sentence it is again highlighted that men made the future and functioning of society, subjecting women in all areas.

37. There is no feminine thought. The brain is not a sexual organ (Charlotte Perkins)

Charlotte Perkins raised the argumentative level by giving as an example the biological condition of the organ that controls our thoughts.

38. Vaginas beat the penis constantly. The penises are defenseless before them (Emma Chase)

In this way he wanted to explain the weakness of man: sexual desire, the only time where man gives in to women.

39. When God created man she was practicing (Rita Mae Brown)

Nothing better than sarcasm to ridicule the divine arguments that put women below men.

40. Good girls go to heaven and bad girls everywhere! (Helen Gurley)

This famous phrase has become famous until today. This is how Helen Gurley claimed the emancipation of women, pushing her towards absolute freedom.

41. Beauty is not a rent you pay to be occupying a space in the women's market (Erin McKean)

Mckean, expert in lexicography, was another American intellectual reference in the struggle of feminism, belittling the importance of beauty in front of the thought.

42. If all men are born free, why are women born slaves? (Mary Astell)

Mary Atell was a pioneer in the movement. Writer and English rhetoric, already questioned in the seventeenth century religious bases that granted a degrading role to women.

43. Whiskey, bets and Ferraris are better than housework (Françoise Sagan)

French actress and writer, she wanted to explain how boring a woman's life was and that, in the end, she shared the same desires as a man.

44. Anyone who knows a bit of history knows that progress would be impossible without the female figure (Karl Marx)

The most influential socialist revolutionary in history, was one of the first to integrate the role of women in the political struggle to fight capitalism.

45. For most of the story, "Anonymous" was a woman (Virginia Woolf)

Considered one of the most influential figures of modernism, Virginia Woolf was a writer, editor, novelist and feminist of the twentieth century. He wrote in this way the invisibility of women in society.

46. ​​My silence did not protect me. Your silence will not protect you (Audre Lorde)

Audre Lorde was a writer and 20th-century African-American feminist activist . Declared lesbian publicly, it was the spearhead in all manifestations for women's rights.

47. It took me years to be able to sit more than two minutes in front of the table and the white paper (Erica Jong)

This famous writer and professor from the United States is one of the most influential feminists of modernity. With this phrase he explains his personal experience of becoming independent as a person through his university studies.

48. In the movies, female heroines need a friend, a partner, but not a savior (Hayao Miyazaki)

Producer of Japanese animation film, Hayao explains in this way the strength and independence that women had in their works.

49. Women are multi-orgasmic and men are not. Are we really inferior? (Mary Swift)

This Australian journalist He wanted to express his dissatisfaction with the idea that women were inferior to men.

50. I love being single, it's the closest thing to being a millionaire (Sue Grafton)

For the detective novelist Sue Grafton, economic independence was a determining factor to become totally emancipated from man.

51. That man who chooses a woman just for his beauty sabotages himself (Naomi Wolf)

Author of the work "The myth of beauty", Naomi Wolf is considered one of the famous representatives of the third wave of feminism, and explained in this way how absurd it was to characterize a woman by her image.

52. Equality will come when a foolish woman can go as far as a foolish man arrives today (Estelle Ramey)

Estelle Ramey was a psychologist and feminist internationally recognized for publicly rejecting the discourse of an American politician, who affirmed female hormonal disability so that they could occupy a position in politics.

53. Women have to be filled with courage to achieve their sleeping dreams (Alice Walker)

A reflection on the difficulties of reaching certain goals as a woman.

54. Capabilities are demonstrated only when they are carried out (Simone Parks)

Simone Parks was another nineteenth-century feminist thinker, and she emphasized giving more importance to actions than to words to fight against machismo.

55. Gold chains are still chains ... (Robert Tier)

A symbolic way to illustrate that a woman, no matter how well she lives materially, will not be free as a person. The material will never replace the emotional.

56. Sexuality is like languages, we can all learn one (Beatriz Preciado)

This representative of the movement queer He expresses his idea that sexuality is linked to social constructs.

57. Male and female roles are not fixed biologically but are socially constructed (Judith Butler)

One of the main drivers of the third wave of feminism it is Judith Butler, who here expresses her criticism of the belief that the sexes have biologically attributed certain styles of behavior and functions.

58. Economic independence is the first step, you will not have to ask for sustenance from the man in case of separation (Ayaan Hirsi)

In the line of other homologous women, this activist reflected the importance of the economic capacity to achieve the emancipation of women.

59. Man is capable of creating wars, woman only creates peace (Jessy Dillon)

Jessy Dillon, American singer, uttered this phrase in one of his Woodstock 69 concerts, when his country was mired in the Vietnam War.

60. Man's virility is the way to despise women (Simone de Beauvoir)

Writer and teacher by profession, Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century and a prominent feminist. This explained the cause of the submission of women as a lack of man with himself.

61. The myth of beauty always prescribes behavior, not appearance (Naomi Wolf)

We return to the famous Naomi, portraying again the absurdity of the image as something psychological, and not physical.

62. Men are oppressed, it is a tragedy. Women are oppressed, it is tradition (Letty Cottin)

Letty Cottin is a writer and activist still alive, and that highlighted with this phrase the treatment that was given to women in the same situation.

63. Feminism will never be understood if it is only understood by a few (Margin Hooks)

An African-American sportswoman, she joined the feminist marches coinciding with the claim of human rights for her black fellow citizens.

64. The Bible has been the largest concrete block in front of female independence (Elizabeth Cady)

Historically, the Church has confronted women with divine beliefs. Elizabeth Cady wanted to express in this way her frustration with the sacred scriptures.

65. The only way to meet is to know oneself (Betty Friedan)

Betty Friedan is another intellectual and feminist leader of the last century. With this famous phrase he conscientized millions of women who were trapped in the dependence of man.

66. The feeling of independence and security is better than sex (Susan Anthony)

Activist and fighter for women's suffrage In the USA during the nineteenth century, Susan Anthony expressed in this way the feeling that was experienced by obtaining freedom as an independent woman.

67. A woman reading the Playboy is like a Jew reading a Nazi magazine (Gloria Steinem)

This is how the journalist Gloria Steinem wanted to describe her discomfort with women who were not aware of the feminist movement.

68. He cried when I left him, which seemed normal to me coming from a man (Emilie Autum)

This American artist explained her personal experience in this way when she separated from her romantic partner.

69. The Vatican does not judge pedophilia, but a woman who does not want to have children is condemned? (Sonya Renee)

This is how Sonya Renee wanted to highlight the treatment that women received from the Holy See.

70. Only stupid men want stupid wives (Robert Tier)

Robert Tier again surprised us with these lucid declarations, where he ridiculed the men who preferred to have a docile woman against a clever woman.

71. Your body is yours to protect and enjoy (Jenny Han)

Writer of adolescent novels, Jenny Han defended the importance of the control that women should have on their own body.

72. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people (Virginia Woolf)

It is the pillar of the ideology of Virginia Woolf, whose phrase highlighted the categorization of women in people and not objects Nobody's property.

73. You can be an idiot, stupid and rude. But while you are a virgin, you will be "good" (Jessica Valenti)

Jessica Valenti went to the annals of feminism for this famous phrase that ridiculed the concept of "good" or "bad" woman.

74. I think housework is more stressful than hunting (Nancy Mitford)

Novelist and English writer, wanted to pay attention to household chores and not put over the work of man, putting as an example something as virile hunting.

75. If a man loves his job, he is a genius. If a woman does, she is a "geek" (Dorothy Sayers)

Here the paradox is again shown between the worker man and the woman who aspires to enter the labor market.

76. It is assumed that women should be temperate and patient. When they are not, they need treatment (Charlotte Brönte)

Charlotte Brönte described how conditioned women were, even emotionally and psychologically.

77. A prostitute is someone, usually a woman, who has left the lines marked by society (Jaclyn Friedman)

Strong statement by Jacly Friedman that once again revealed the guidelines that women should follow within society.

78. The female company has made me see the true sense of strength, determination and courage (Franz Kafka)

Confession of the illustrious German author that expressed in this way the value that the woman has before any circumstance, even in an adventurous expedition.

79. In all fields of the world of work, women continue to be second class citizens (Betty Friedan)

A problem that remains latent in our days. Betty again remarked the disdain of the female sex in the labor market.

80. Is the myth of female beauty good for man? (Naomi Woolf)

In this way Naomi Woolf questioned the repercussion of beauty even for the well-being of man.

81. I deserve something better, dangerous and crazy to entertain me (Meredith Duran)

A groundbreaking phrase mentioned by Meredith Duran, American romantic novelist.

82. No one cares about mothers except when they are poor or black. The issue is not moral, but economic (Toni Morrison)

Pulitzer Prize in 1988, Toni Morrison is an American writer who dealt with issues of people of color, especially poor women.

83. It's hard to be a fighter when you have your arms tied (Cassandra Duffy)

Cassandra Duffy denounced the few weapons and means that women had to develop and evolve within society.

84. Being born a woman is my greatest tragedy (Sylvia Path)

A statement of the most tragic, Sylvia Path wanted to convey in this way his frustration with injustices that women suffered. One of the most expressive feminist phrases.

85. There was a time when you walked alone, you wrote alone, you studied alone and you dressed alone. Remember that moment (Monique Wittig)

Monique Witting manifested in this brilliant way the moment where the woman was totally independent and able to be self-sufficient.

86. Love is the opium of women. While we loved, men ruled (Kate Millet)

For Millet, the meaning of love has distracted them from their struggle for emancipation.

87. The oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed themselves (Simone de Beauvoir)

Simone hits hard again, blaming the impassive women in the face of injustice.

88. All the misfortunes of the world come from the oblivion and contempt that until now has been made of the natural and essential rights of being a woman (Flora Tristán)

Another founder of modern feminism that insisted on collective consciousness.

89. Femininity is the art of being a slave. We can call it seduction and make it a matter of glamor. It is simply a matter of getting used to behaving like someone inferior (Virgine Despentes)

Because of false preconceptions , the woman was already born conditioned by the rules of man.

90. Being excluded from power gives women an incredible freedom of thought, accompanied by a painful fragility (Fátima Mernissi)

Every cloud has a silver lining. Fatima took advantage of gender discrimination.

91. The most common way for people to give you their power is to believe that they do not have it (Alice Walker)

Wanting is power. Self-belief will compromise your future.

92. The feminine in patriarchy would not be what women are, but what men have built for them (Luce Iragaray)

Luce Igaray again affects the male construction of the capabilities and role of women in society.

93. The gender is between the ears and not between the legs (Chaz Bono)

Son of the singer Cher, Chaz Bono is an important activist of the rights of women, gays and lesbians.

94. Before God, we are all equally wise and equally foolish (Albert Einstein)

Whoever was one of the best scientists of all time, broke a spear in favor of equality .

95If you think you are limited by your gender, race or origin, you will become even more limited (Carly Fiorina)

Politics and American business woman, Carly Fiorina has been an inspiration in 21st century feminism.

96. Privilege is the greatest enemy of law (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

This Austrian writer She was a notable influential feminist for her psychological novels as early as the nineteenth century.

97. Women with good behavior rarely make history (Eleanor Roosevelt)

The former first lady of the USA, was a reference for the feminist movement in the post-Second World War era.

98. I do not want women to have power over men, but over themselves (Mary Wollstonecraft)

English philosopher and writer of the eighteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft prioritized women's awareness above the male.

99. Male and female are not two sexes superior or inferior to each other. They are simply different (Gregorio Marañón)

A clear and direct appreciation of the famous Spanish doctor, thinker and writer.

100. When women have power, they decisively improve the lives of those around them (Prince Henry of England)

This is how the grandson of Elizabeth II of England wanted to express the importance of women in the development of modern civilizations.


Barbara Caine on first wave feminism | all about women 2018 (April 2024).


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