August 13, 2021
16 feminist quotes we’re vibing to this week
Happy Monday, Feministas. Hope you're staying cool out there in this mid-summer heat. This week we're excited to share with you the very best feminist quotes we've stumbled upon in the last year or so of reading and learning about the history of gender equality, women's rights, and the feminist agenda at large.
So whether you're new to calling yourself the F-word (for feminist!) or a long-time ride-or-die for the cause, these words from some of the most inspiring women of all time should put some girl power pep in your step. So start scrolling and get ready to get empowered, ladies, because these feminist words to live by are the kind that inspire advocacy, compel action, and make us feel seen and less alone.
1. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde
No list of ours would be complete without a quick mention of feminist heroine Audre Lorde, so we're just gonna start with her this time :) You can learn all about her and the famous speech this quote came from in our article on the lady legend herself (right here!), but in the meantime, let's just revel in these words.
This is one of our favorites because it's simple, it's intersectional, and it beautifully conveys an important reminder and truth: that our fight is for all women--everywhere--regardless of race, ethnicity, background, sexual orientation, etc.
2. “No woman should be told she can’t make decisions about her own body. When women’s rights are under attack, we fight back.” —Kamala Harris
Here’s something that shouldn’t need to be said, but unfortunately the fight for reproductive rights is far from won. Even today, there are state governments actively working to strip women of access to important health services and to criminalize the administration of certain kinds of health care (if you want to know more about the current state of affairs, you can check the deets here). Kamala Harris made history when she became the first female Vice President of the United States and is continues to make us proud by using her platform to center women's issues and fight for our rights.
3. “Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age.” —Carrie Fisher
Queen of the quick-witted and devastating quip, the outspoken actress and all around gem Carrie Fisher graced us with this too-true feminist quote that gives voice to something we all know but don’t hear enough. Agism is a pernicious facet of misogyny that can doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Thankfully that changes a little bit every day, and representation by women like Carrie Fisher, Dolly Parton, Elizabeth Warren, and others in the public eye who continue to do what they're best at, even beyond their youth, are making all the difference.
4. “Mentors of mine were under a big pressure to minimize their femininity to make it. I’m not going to do that. That takes away my power. I’m not going to compromise who I am. I wake up every day and I'm a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx. Every single day.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
On the other end of the spectrum, we have more and more young women stepping up and making their voices heard as well, making sure women are represented in positions of power and traditionally male dominated spaces like Congress.
We like this feminist quote because it acknowledges the circumstances of the women who came before her, who effectively had to blend in to stay in, and also continues to push the boundaries of what women can and should look like in different spheres of society. While her femininity may not always play to her favor, she's opening doors for the next generation by normalizing yet another way for successful women to dress, look, and speak. A fearless, flawless feminist :)
5. “The freedom I want is located in a world where we wouldn't need to love women, or even monitor our feelings about women as meaningful—in which we wouldn't need to parse the contours of female worth and liberation by paying meticulous personal attention to any of this at all.” —Jia Tolentino
This feminist quote comes journalist and writer Jia Tolentino’s book of essays called Trick Mirror (a recommendation from our summer reading list), which explores internet culture, self image, and feminism in the 21st century. And it makes sense coming off the heels of the AOC quote just above. Like all of us here at The Feminista, she’s dreaming of a world in which a person’s gender or the way they look doesn’t dictate our response to them--that a person wearing lipstick and hoop earrings garners just as much respect as a man in a suit and that we don't have to waste our valuable brain space thinking about or defending things like that at all.
6. “Alone, a woman is a root curling for change, but together, women are a forest alive with spirit: a riotous power, the most timeless pact, a call to act, to all those who hear it.” —Amanda Gorman
Remember when poet Amanda Gorman knocked our socks off with her recital of The Hill We Climb at Biden’s Inauguration back in January 2020? In it, she addresses women of the U.S. and around the world and reminds us that we're most pow-her-ful when we come together and fight for change. That’s why this blog and The Feminista brand exists--to build community around our shared goal of gender equality--and this feminist verse captures it beautifully.
7. “I think one of the most important things we can do as feminists is acknowledge that, even though we have womanhood in common, we have to start to think about the ways in which we're different, how those differences affect us, and what kinds of needs we have based on our differences.” —Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is one of the most influential and important feminist voices out there right now. If Amanda Gorman is telling us that we need to come together as, then in this quote, Gay agrees, but adds that it's important not think of ourselves as a monolith.
Our focus may be feminism, but discrimination happens outside of the spectrum of gender as well--across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and beyond. And Roxane Gay reminds us to acknowledge those diverse and varied experiences of oppression because our failure to do so results in the same kind of erasure we're fighting against.
8. “If feminism can understand the patriarchy, it’s important to question why so many feminists struggle to understand whiteness as a political structure in the very same way.” —Reni Eddo-Lodge
Reni Eddo-Lodge is an award-winning journalist, podcaster, and author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. This feminist quote comes from that 2017 bestseller, and offers some useful perspective on systems of oppression given our understanding of the way feminism acts as a response to the patriarchal structures in our lives. If we aim to be intersectional in our feminism, it's something we all need to recognize and understand.
9. “I think transwomen, and transpeople in general, show everyone that you can define what it means to be a man or woman on your own terms. A lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you're supposed to be to live a more authentic life.” —Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is an Emmy-nominated actress, film producer, and equal rights activist who has done so much to push feminism forward in our lifetimes. The fluidity of gender expression as it exists today is thanks in part to women like Cox, who has graciously shared her story with the world in order to give people a better sense of the trans experience.
And if you happen to be a cis-woman who doesn't think that has anything to do with you, just remember that it's always the people and ideas that seem most "out there" that move the needle for the rest of us.
10. “There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.” —Madeline Albright
We've all heard this one before, but do you know where it came from? None other than the first female Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, delivered this line back in 1991, but it resurfaced during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign a few years back. This feminist quote is not messing around and we're here for it, but the message is also important: empowered women empower women, not tear each other down.
11. “Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Speaking of feminism with a hint of shade, this one says it all. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is most famous for her book, We Should All Be Feminists, and her accompanying TED Talk, in which she shares this sentiment--that men of quality shouldn't fear equality and that she doesn't have time for the kind that do. We are with you.
12. “My mum said to me, 'You know, sweetheart one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.' I said, 'Mum, I am a rich man.' —Cher
This one comes from an iconic interview which you can watch here, in which Cher delivers this line a totally straight face because, well, she's famous and successful and she honestly does not need a man (aka: in this story, the princess saves herself).
But that sentiment doesn't just go for the wildly rich and famous. Every woman deserves to feel like she's enough--all on her own.
13. "The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued." —Michelle ObamaAnother First Lady quote because, well, we we can't help ourselves ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But we think it's justified because Michelle Obama is one of our feminist queens and over the years she's said so many noteworthy and inspiring things. This feminist quote comes from her speech at the State Department Women of Courage Awards back in 2009, and we couldn't agree more. Women are magic and it's time for the world to acknowledge their worth.
14. "She is free to do what she wants, and free not to do it" —Nawal El Saadawi
If you don’t know Nawal El Saadawi by now, it’s time to change that. She was an Egyptian feminist activist, writer, physician, and psychologist, known for confronting aggression against women’s bodies--especially female circumcision--and for founding the first independent feminist organization in Egypt, the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association.
This feminist quote comes from one of her novels, Woman at Point Zero, and we love it so much we put it on a t-shirt. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and rock it to remind the world that a woman is free to make her own decisions--regarding her reproductive rights, the kind of life she wants to live, etc. Preach.
15. “I love man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.” ―Mary Wollstonecraft
Always ahead of her time, first with The Vindication of the Rights of Women and then with this gem of a quote, feminist (s)hero Mary Wollstonecraft just wants to remind you in 18th century English that you're worth more than just your hand in a partnership and that we need not submit to men, ladies, but to reason instead :)
16. “Hope has bred change again and again. To be hopeless is to disregard history.” —Ava DuVernay
In an article for Time magazine, Ava DuVernay, Oscar nominee and the first African American woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival, wrote all about what gives her hope. In it, she talks about how far we've come in Hollywood and beyond--more voices are being heard, more diverse stories are being told, and there are more ways than ever to sidestep oppressive systems like the patriarchy and inherently racist power structures to tell those stories.
She continues, "...and so that's what gives me hope: to know that this present moment will be the past soon and the future is what we will make it." So what will we make of it? Let's get out there and do some feminist good :)
As always, thanks for reading. We'll see you next week for more of The F Word, our weekly newsletter and blog on all things feminist, from activism to fashion and beyond. Want it delivered? Scroll down, sign up, and we’ll send it straight to your inbox.