The word feminist gets thrown around a lot. Sometimes it's used as a war cry, sometimes as an insult, sometimes as an honorary label to be worn with pride. But what does it really mean to be a feminist, and should everyone consider themselves one? We'll let you be the judge. Read on for 18 important quotes about feminism we think everyone should hear.
(We've interspersed these quotes with some fabulous feminist artwork by bored-dentist-turned-viral-Instagram-artist Sara Shakeel for an extra boost of #BossBabe power.)
Are you a feminist?
“Here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants. (a) Do you have a vagina? and (b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.” ― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ― Cheris Kramarae
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” – Rebecca West
“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.” ― Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist (Follow her on Instagram!)
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” ― Joan of Arc
“If you educate a man; you educate a man. If you educate a woman; you educate a generation.” ― Brigham Young
“Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” ― Sheng Wang
“It's not my responsibility to be beautiful. I'm not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.” ― Warsan Shire
“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” ― Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ― Gloria Steinem
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” ― Audre Lorde
“The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
“When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch.” ― Bette Davis
“Equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who's confronted with it. We need equality.”
― Joss Whedon
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion
“I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” ― Madonna
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” ― Margaret Atwood
Finally, I'd like to leave you with this passage from Doris Lessing:
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” ― Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Which feminist quote is your favorite?
Tell us in the comments, and drop any of your other favorite quotes about feminism below.
P.S. Want to be super inspired to slay your goals this season? Check out our Expert Advice for Female Entrepreneurs and Ambitious Women!
👋Hi, I'm 👑Ellen Coule, former Head of Sales at BossBabe! ☕️ I'm a Sales & Marketing Consultant for 7 & 8-figure brands, public speaker, event host, and professional optimist living in South Florida. ☀️🌴 At this very moment, I'm likely helping a client create a 7-figure content strategy, hosting a virtual meetup, plotting global takeover, or cuddling with my kitties and bae. 😍😻 I'm a major grammar queen & word nerd who'll gladly spend all day exchanging insights on politics, social responsibility, digital marketing, events, and creating a stellar customer experience… 💥✨🚀 so if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to slide into my DMs @EllenCoule on Instagram.