Emma Watson, in her recent UN speech on feminism, stated there is not one country in the world which can proudly claim to have total gender equality. There is still a long way to go. Once full equality is achieved in every sphere of life, the word ‘feminism’ will become obsolete. In the meantime, here are 25 quotes to help us in the process of empowerment so that we do not become discouraged or lose sight of our goal.
1. “We all fight over what the label ‘feminism’ means but for me it’s about empowerment. It’s not about being more powerful than men – it’s about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It’s about very basic things. It’s not a badge like a fashion item.” – Annie Lennox.
Once feminism is no longer a badge, women will have full empowerment.
2. “What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy, and smug they might be.” – Caitlin Moran
Women will no longer be slaves to traditional views regarding their looks, beauty and health.
3. “The glass ceiling is not simply a barrier for an individual, based on the person’s inability to handle a higher-level job. Rather, the glass ceiling applies to women as a group who are kept from advancing higher because they are women.” – Ann Morrison
Despite progress in women gaining top positions, they are still blocked by the glass ceiling, as mentioned above. The fact that there is still a 23% pay gap between the sexes speaks volumes.
4. “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” – Cheris Kramarae
This still needs to be said when we read that women are sold for marriage and murdered when the dowry money is not enough. Inhuman acts against women are still rife. Just one of the things mentioned in Catharine MacKinnon’s book, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law.
5. “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” – Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem always had doubts about the institution of marriage and to everyone’s surprise, became a first time bride at the age of 66. She said that this was proof that ‘feminism is about the ability to choose what’s right at each time of our lives.’ Sadly, her husband, David Bale, died three years later.
6. “I would [call myself a feminist], yes, I believe in the unadulterated advancement of women. And we have so far to go still.” – Rashida Jones
Rashida makes it clear that women are so talented in many ways that the reduction of them as sex symbols is wrong and must be challenged.
7. “I think that unfortunately people who are maybe threatened by feminism think that it’s about setting your bra on fire and being aggressive, and I think that’s really wrong and really dangerous.” – Jenny Slate
Many men feel that feminism is a threat rather than an opportunity.
8. “I don’t think we are the same, women and men. We’re different. But I don’t think we are less than men. There are more women than men in the world – ask any single woman! So, it is shocking that men are in more positions of power.” – Salma Hayek
Many women do not have to wait for marriage to realize their full potential. Marriage is not necessarily a requirement for a happy life. Many single women are perfectly happy.
9. “The legal subordination of one sex to another — is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a system of perfect equality, admitting no power and privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.” – John Stuart Mill
It may come as a surprise but this is an extract from a book written by John Stuart Mill in 1869! He felt strongly that female inequality was a hindrance to human development.
10. “In Pakistan, when we were stopped from going to school, at that time I realized that education…is the power for women, and that’s why the terrorists are afraid of education.” – Malala Yousafzai
Malala was shot in the head by religious extremists because she stood up for girls’ rights to education in the Swat valley in Pakistan. She survived the attack and 10 men have been arrested in connection with the shooting.
11. “Gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation.” — Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan is convinced that gender equality is not just a goal towards human development but must first be a precondition.
12. “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they’re out there and it really bothers me.” ― Kurt Cobain
One of the few famous men who really believed that there was nothing wrong with a man who was an unadulterated feminist.
13. “Beating women is not cultural, it is criminal and it needs to be treated as such.” Hillary Clinton
In the USA, FBI figures show there are about 2 million men who regularly beat their female partners.
14. “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.” – Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain got to the heart of the matter. Society still tries to lay most of the blame on the victims.
15. “Know what? Bitches get stuff done.” – Tina Fey
Tina Fey’s satirical and comic acts often stress the need for women to take responsibility for their part in our sexist society.
16. “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practised no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centres, women’s refuges, reforms in the law. If someone says, ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist’, I ask ‘Why? What’s your problem?’” – Dale Spender
Feminism has been a huge challenge due to ingrained views about women’s role in society. Enormous progress has been gained but much more needs to be done.
17. “Has feminism made us all more conscious? I think it has. Feminist critiques of anthropological masculine bias have been quite important, and they have increased my sensitivity to that kind of issue.” – Clifford Geertz
Geertz was an anthropologist who wrote a lot about ethnic diversity and how it shaped our modern world.
18. “Feminism is sort of like God. Many people profess to believe in it, but no one seems to be able to define it to everyone’s satisfaction.” – Aaron Allston
It has been difficult to define feminism due to the myriad views on beliefs, theories and activism surrounding the movement.
19. “Our mothers’ generation fought so hard to change things and we’re the first generation to benefit. And now you get girls in their twenties who say they’re not feminists.”- Kristin Davis
From over-romantic prude in Sex and the City to the bitch-goddess in the soap opera Melrose Place, Kristin knows something about playing female roles. Her upbringing encouraged her to be active in feminist issues. Her mother set the example by setting up a pregnancy advisory clinic in the Deep South, when this was frowned on.
20. “I wanted to focus on creating a…new 21st century woman, someone who is not defined by her skin color or hair texture but by what she does for the community.” – Janelle Monae
21. “The stereotypes of feminists as ugly, or man-haters, or hairy, or whatever it is – that’s really strategic. That’s a really smart way to keep young women away from feminism, is to kind of put out this idea that all feminists hate men, or all feminists are ugly; and that they really come from a place of fear.” – Jessica Valenti
The extreme reaction to this stereotype has been taken up by the Women Against Feminism which seems like a total waste of time and energy.
22. “Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.” – Andrea Dworkin
Time to stop the gender hatred war.
23. “The word feminism needs to be taken back. It needs to be reclaimed in a way that is inclusive of men.” – Annie Lennox
When and this happens, real progress will be made.
24. “The word, and the concept of feminism, was a gift because it gave me a sense of identity and a way of defining how I wished to live my life.” – Betty Buckley
Feminism has given millions of women a voice and a better chance of making progress in a male dominated society.
25. “You cannot have a full career and a full life at home with your children if you are also doing all of the housework and child care.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Sharing domestic and household work must still be an important piece of the feminist agenda. For it to be viewed as simply a feminine task is extremely limiting for women and reduces their status.
As we have seen, feminism is a campaign which has had mixed results but progress has definitely been made. Let us know in the comments below what direction feminism should now be taking.
Featured photo credit: Emma Watson/Marco Bond via flickr.com