In this article you can find 100 famous feminist phrases by authors recognized worldwide such as Gloria Steinem, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen or Naomi Wolf.
From this compilation of reflections one can intuit the motivations, concerns and intellectual objectives of this movement throughout different historical stages.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy, feminism is defined as: “an ideology that defines that women should have the same opportunities as men”.
In spite of this brief definition, the debate on what feminism is and should be continues to be totally topical , and the different currents of this movement have led to talk about “feminisms” to reflect this plurality. For example, one part of this social and political movement defends first of all gender equality as a common objective, while another places the defence of a new femininity in the centre of its 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 this end, we will present the 100 feminist phrases of the great authors of modern and contemporary history.
105 feminist phrases to remember
Below you can see an extensive compilation of powerful phrases about feminism from the mouths of different types of well-known personalities: artists, politicians, thinkers… Which one do you think is the most accurate?
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 of their own integrity and capacity 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,” that’s fine. (Madonna)
The famous queen of pop had a rough start in the music world. She was the leading voice in breaking all the female moulds of the angelic singer, and she 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 storm (for the tremendously macho society of the time) for her radical feminist comments. This phrase comes to say that man is totally expendable.
5. Feminism is not just for women, it is about allowing everyone to have a fuller life (Jane Fonda)
As previously mentioned, here is another author who does not overreach the feminist movement as something exclusive to women, but rather tries to reach people above the gender.
Feminism” is a radical notion that women are human beings (Cheris Chramarae)
A phrase taken from the “Feminist Dictionary”, he wanted to emphasize that the movement fought so that women would be seen as any other person and not as an object, sexual in most cases.
7. I refuse to act the way men want me to act (Madonna)
The famous artist surprised us again with these statements. Severely criticized for her image as an “anti-hero”, many began to question her professionalism, calling her a provocateur and a symbol of sin.
8. I hate men who fear women’s strength (Anaïs Nin)
This sentence explains the relationship between men’s rejection of feminism and their own fears when they see in women an emancipated and powerful entity .
9. Anyone who hates something is threatened by it (Neil Strauss)
Following the previous example, this time in one man’s opinion, reference is made to fear as the first cause of the confrontation with the feminist movement.
10. The point that women have not yet learned is that no one has given them that power. They just take it (Roseanne Barr)
Women were subjugated by the system, set up by men, for centuries, and this explains why they found it so hard 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 reclaimed in a way that is inclusive of men (Annie Lennox)
Once again, another author stresses the importance of including men in the collective feminist consciousness. It should not be a struggle of the ladies, but of them as well.
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 are engaged in household chores. Betty disagreed and made a very explicit analogy.
13. Feminism is not based on hating men, it is fighting against the absurd distinction between genders (Robert Webb)
Another man who joins the feminist demand. He breaks gender boundaries 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 link between the son-mother relationship. She ruled that the relationship between the two would determine a woman’s partner.
15. Feminism is hated because women are hated (Andrea Dworkin)
Some expert thinkers and intellectuals compared the rejection of feminism with the hatred that male society had for the opposite sex.
16. A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men (Gloria Steinem)
This American journalist also emphasized a shared struggle between the two sexes, without distinction or putting one gender above the other.
17. What? You think feminism means hating men? (Cindy Lauper)
Cindy Lauper strongly criticized the bad concept of feminism. Discussing with an anonymous man on the subject, she observed how wrong he was about the movement’s values.
18. Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women fear that men will kill them (Margaret Atwood)
This is a very accurate denunciation to explain the shortcomings of civil society, where women are treated in a denigrating way compared to men .
19. The Freedom to be You and Me (Ruth Bader)
Luth Bader wanted to explain with this phrase that both men and women should not give up their personality or dreams for one or the other. Being a couple does not exclude having personalities of one’s own within the relationship.
20. I will not be a free woman as long as there are still submissive women (Audre Lorde)
This American activist was in all the editorials and media denouncing the bad conditions in which women lived all over the world, regardless of whether she was directly affected or not.
21. When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman does, she is a whore (Bette Davis)
This reflects the differential treatment given to women in the same case, and how the result was radically opposed.
22. If you want to be strong, you better have a pussy. This thing can take all the hits! (Sheng Wang)
An unorthodox way of claiming the role of women in society. Female genitalia represent the occasions when women resist discriminatory treatment by men.
23. No one knows me or loves me completely. I only have myself (Simone de Beauvoir)
This sentence refers to women’s dependence on men, something that is wrong and that the author Simone encourages women to know how to take care of themselves.
24. Man is of the Earth, woman is of the Earth. Live with it (George Carling)
Geroge Carling thus explained that women come from the same place as men, avoiding denigrations such as that the female sex is inferior or conceived differently.
25. What’s the worst thing you can call a man? Whore, woman, faggot… (Jessica Valenti)
Jessica Valenti was very clear with this sentence when she showed how badly treated women are even from an unconscious point of view , as is the insult to men.
26. Equality is like gravity, a necessity (Joss Whedon)
Another male author who advocated equality above all else, without distinction or palliation.
27. Male opposition to female independence is perhaps more interesting than independence itself (Virginia Woolf)
Some characters, such as Virginia Wolf, were amazed at how complex the acceptance of feminism was in a macho society.
28. I don’t remember reading any book that doesn’t talk about women’s instability. Perhaps because they were written by men (Jane Austen)
This sentence explains the elaborate and intentional image that male authors made of women, always inventing a weak and unbalanced character.
29. A woman who has no control over her body cannot be a free woman (Margaret Sanger)
Above all there was respect for the purely physical aspect of the woman, above the intellectual, as she was considered an object of sexual desire , one had to know how to manage her body to take the next step.
30. Society will continue to be backward until we free women, praise them and educate them (Saddam Hussein)
Surprising as it may seem, the Iraqi leader recited this phrase in one of his public exhibitions. The president of Iraq made studies universal and made his country one of the first Arab countries to provide education for women.
31. Do you really believe that everything that is said about men – and women – is true? All these stories were written by men, who only tell the truth by accident (Moderata Fonte)
Moderata Fonte emphasized what the books of historians said, taking into account that most scholars were men.
32. Feminism is not dividing “the cake” between both sexes, it is making a new one (Gloria Steinem)
Gloria Steinem gave a new idea to feminism: to start from scratch, creating something totally different from what was already preconceived.
33. Feminism also benefits men (Karin Slaughter)
This phrase explains the win-win situation that feminism brings with it, since men should not have to worry about taking on all the financial responsibilities of the household either, as long as they let their wife work.
34. If feminism were not so powerful, people would not strive to belittle it (Jessica Valenti)
Jessica Valenti gave this approach to explain the fierce confrontation that feminism endured every time it manifested itself.
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 lack of seriousness with which the feminist struggle was treated. Even in the theoretical acceptance , in reality there were still no significant changes.
36. The laws, customs and politics. Everything is set up to remember that woman is made for man (Elizabeth Cady)
In this sentence, it is once again stressed that men have made the future and functioning of society their own, subordinating women in all areas.
37. There is no feminine thought. The brain is not a sexual organ (Charlotte Perkins)
Charlotte Perkins raised the level of argument by giving the example of the biological condition of the organ that controls our thoughts.
38. Vaginas beat the penis constantly. Penises are defenseless against them (Emma Chase)
This is how they wanted to explain man’s weakness: sexual desire, the only moment when man gives in to woman.
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 go everywhere! (Helen Gurley)
This famous phrase has become famous to this day. This is how Helen Gurley claimed the emancipation of women, pushing them towards absolute freedom.
41. Beauty is not a rent that you pay to be occupying a space in the women’s market (Erin McKean)
Mckean, an expert in lexicography, was another American intellectual reference in the struggle of feminism, underestimating the importance of beauty in the face of thought.
42. If all men are born free, why are women born slaves? (Mary Astell)
Mary Atell pioneered the movement. An English writer and rhetorician, she questioned as early as the 17th century the religious basis for giving women a degrading role.
43. Whiskey, gambling and Ferraris are better than housework (Françoise Sagan)
A French actress and writer, she wanted to explain how boring the life of a woman was and that, ultimately, 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 into the political struggle against 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 20th century. She wrote about 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 African-American feminist activist of the 20th century . Declared a lesbian in public, she was the spearhead of all demonstrations 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 American writer and professor is one of the most influential feminists of modernity. With this sentence she explains her personal experience of becoming independent as a person through her university studies.
48. In movies, women heroines need a friend, a partner, but not a savior (Hayao Miyazaki)
A Japanese animated film producer, Hayao thus explains the strength and independence that women had in their work.
49. Women are multi-orgasmic and men are not. Are we really inferior? (Mary Swift)
This Australian journalist wanted to express her disagreement 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 crime novelist Sue Grafton, economic independence was a determining factor in becoming totally emancipated from man.
51. The man who chooses a woman only for her 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 thus explained the absurdity of characterizing a woman by her image.
52. Equality will come when a foolish woman can go as far as a foolish man can go today (Estelle Ramey)
Estelle Ramey was a psychologist and feminist internationally recognized for publicly rejecting the speech of an American politician, who claimed female hormonal disability so that they could take up a position in politics.
53. Women have to be brave to achieve their dreams in their sleep (Alice Walker)
A reflection on the difficulties of achieving certain goals as a woman.
54. Capacities are demonstrated only when they are realized (Simone Parks)
Simone Parks was another 19th-century feminist thinker, and she emphasized giving more importance to actions than words to fight machismo.
55. Gold chains are still chains… (Robert Tier)
A symbolic way of illustrating 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 queer movement thus expresses her idea that sexuality is linked to social constructs.
57. Male and female roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed (Judith Butler)
One of the main drivers of the third wave of feminism is Judith Butler, who here expresses her criticism of the belief that the sexes have certain behavioural styles and functions attributed to them biologically.
58. Economic independence is the first step, you don’t have to ask the man for support in case of separation (Ayaan Hirsi)
In line with her other counterparts, this activist reflected the importance of economic capacity in achieving the emancipation of women.
59. Man is capable of creating war, woman only creates peace (Jessy Dillon)
Jessy Dillon, an American singer, uttered this phrase at one of her Woodstock 69 concerts, when her country was in the throes of the Vietnam War.
60. Man’s virility is the way to despise woman (Simone de Beauvoir)
Writer and teacher by profession, Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century and an outstanding feminist. This is how she explained the cause of women’s subjugation as a lack of man’s self-respect.
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. Oppressed men, it’s a tragedy. Oppressed women, it is tradition (Letty Cottin)
Letty Cottin is a writer and activist still alive, and who highlighted with this phrase the treatment of 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 demand for human rights for her black fellow citizens.
64. The Bible has been the biggest concrete block against female independence (Elizabeth Cady)
Historically, the Church has confronted women with divine beliefs. Elizabeth Cady wanted to express her frustration with the sacred scriptures in this way.
65. The only way to meet is to know yourself (Betty Friedan)
Betty Friedan is another intellectual and feminist leader of the last century. With this famous phrase she raised the awareness of millions of women who were trapped in dependence on men.
66. The feeling of independence and security is better than sex (Susan Anthony)
Activist and fighter for women’s suffrage in the United States during the 19th century, Susan Anthony expressed in this way the sensation that was experienced when 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 journalist Gloria Steinem described 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 in this way her personal experience when she separated from her romantic partner.
69. The Vatican does not judge pedophilia, but is a woman who does not want to have children reprehensible? (Sonya Renee)
This is how Sonya Renee wanted to emphasize the treatment that women received from the Holy See.
70. Only stupid men want stupid wives (Robert Tier)
Robert Tier surprised again with these lucid statements, where he ridiculed men who preferred to have a docile woman against a shrewd one.
71. Your body is yours to protect and enjoy (Jenny Han)
Teenage novelist Jenny Han championed the importance of the control women should have over their own bodies.
72. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people (Virginia Woolf)
It is the pillar of Virginia Woolf’s ideology, whose phrase highlighted the categorization of women into people and not objects owned by anyone.
73. You can be stupid and rude. But as long as you’re a virgin, you’ll be “good” (Jessica Valenti)
Jessica Valenti went down in the annals of feminism for this famous phrase that ridiculed the concept of “good” or “bad” women.
74. I think housework is more stressful than hunting (Nancy Mitford)
An English novelist and writer, she wanted to pay attention to household chores and not put man’s work above it, using as an example something as virile as hunting.
75. If a man loves his job, he’s a genius. If a woman does, she is a “geek” (Dorothy Sayers)
Here again the paradox between the working man and the woman who aspires to enter the labour market is shown.
76. Women are supposed to be temperate and patient. When they are not, they need treatment (Charlotte Brönte)
Charlotte Brönte thus described how conditioned the women were even on an emotional and psychological level.
77. A prostitute is someone, usually a woman, who has stepped outside the lines marked by society (Jaclyn Friedman)
Jacly Friedman’s forceful sentence that once again highlighted the guidelines that women must 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 who expressed in this way the value that women have in any circumstance, even in an adventurous expedition.
79. In all areas of the world of work, women remain second-class citizens (Betty Friedan)
A problem that is still latent today. Betty was once again pointing out the disdain of the female sex in the labour market.
80. Is the myth of female beauty good for men? (Naomi Woolf)
In this way Naomi Woolf questioned the impact of beauty even on the well-being of men.
81. I deserve something better, dangerous and crazy to entertain me (Meredith Duran)
A groundbreaking phrase mentioned by Meredith Duran, American romance novelist.
82. No one cares about mothers except when they are poor or black. The issue is not moral, but economic (Toni Morrison)
A 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner, Toni Morrison is an American writer who addressed issues of color, especially poor women.
83. It’s hard to be a fighter when your arms are tied (Cassandra Duffy)
Cassandra Duffy denounced the few weapons and means that women had to be able to develop and evolve within society.
84. Being born a woman is my greatest tragedy (Sylvia Path)
A most tragic statement, Sylvia Path wanted to convey in this way her frustration with the injustices suffered by women. One of the most expressive feminist phrases.
85. There was a time when you walked alone, wrote alone, studied alone and dressed alone. Remember that moment (Monique Wittig)
Monique Witting expressed in this brilliant way the moment when the woman was totally independent and capable of being 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 strikes back, blaming the women who are impassive in the face of injustice.
88. All the misfortunes of the world come from the forgetfulness and the contempt that has been made until today of the natural and indispensable rights of being a woman (Flora Tristan)
Another of the founders of modern feminism who insisted on collective consciousness.
89. Femininity is the art of being a slave. We can call it seduction and make it a matter of glamour. It is simply a matter of getting used to behaving like someone inferior (Virgine Despentes)
Because of false preconceptions , women were already born conditioned by the rules of men.
90. Being excluded from power gives women an incredible freedom of thought, accompanied by a painful fragility (Fátima Mernissi)
There’s no harm that doesn’t come from good. Fatima took advantage of gender discrimination.
91. The most common way that people give you their power is for them to believe that they don’t have it (Alice Walker)
Love is power. Convincing oneself will compromise one’s future.
92. The feminine in the patriarchy would not be what women are, but what men have built for them (Luce Iragaray)
Luce Igaray once again focuses on the male construction of the capacities and role of women in society.
93. The gender is between the ears and not between the legs (Chaz Bono)
Son of singer Cher, Chaz Bono is a leading activist for women’s, gay and lesbian rights.
94. Before God, we are all equally wise and equally foolish (Albert Einstein)
The one who was one of the best scientists of all times, broke a lance in favor of equality .
95. If you think you are limited by your gender, race, or origin, you will become even more limited (Carly Fiorina)
An American politician and businesswoman, Carly Fiorina has been an inspiration to 21st century feminism.
96. Privilege is the greatest enemy of law (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)
This Austrian writer was a notable feminist influence for her psychological novels as early as the 19th century.
97. Women with good behavior rarely make history (Eleanor Roosevelt)
The former first lady of the United States was a reference for the feminist movement in the post-World War II era.
98. I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves (Mary Wollstonecraft)
English philosopher and writer of the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecraft prioritized female awareness over male awareness.
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.
101. The bravest act is to think for yourself, out loud (Coco Chanel)
Famous phrase of the great fashion designer.
102. We ignore our true stature until we stand (Emily Dickinson)
It is when we fight for our rights that we can see our true moral greatness.
103. They teach us to hide / To lower our gaze and feel ashamed / To depend on the eyes of others to see us shine (Albanta San Román)
An extract from a poem that tells us about the first glimpses of machismo in a woman’s life.
104. Some women choose to follow men, others decide to follow their dreams (Lady Gaga)
Each one has to choose.
105. Go out and do something. It’s not your room that’s a prison, it’s you (Sylvia Plath)
In many cases, limitations are self-imposed.