Top Quotes: “The Truth Will Set You Free…But First It Will Piss You Off!” — Gloria Steinem
“As we human beings grow up, our time of dependency lasts far longer than that of any other animal. That’s because our very complex brains continue to add countless synapses over the years.
The good news is that this long process gives our brains the power to adapt to almost any environment, so our species survives. The bad news is that this same process makes us vulnerable to everything around us, from the absence of touch to the presence of disapproval. We are hypersensitive to whatever is normalized or enforced while we’re young.
Imagine how vulnerable we are to our treatment and surroundings as we grow up. Whether we’re born into a family or adopted, whether we live in poverty or in a mansion, with a single mom or two dads, what children absorb is: Who speaks and who listens? Who argues and who gives in? Who is at the computer and who is in the kitchen? Who is the family proud of, and who isn’t mentioned? Who brings worry, and who brings hope? Families that preach gender and race equality but don’t practice it cannot achieve equality. They just teach us to separate our words from our deeds.”
“There are links of cause and effect between birth families and chosen families, and also between movement change and global change.
For instance, in Sex and World Peace, Valerie Hudson and other scholars conducted a study of violence in 100 nations around the world. The single biggest determinant of whether a nation would be violent, both in its own streets and in military violence against another country, was domestic violence in the home. More than poverty, access to natural resources, religion, or even degree of democracy, they found that violence against females was the indicator and normalizer of all other violence.
This starts with male control of reproduction, and therefore the bodies of women. Since half the population cannot control the other half without violence or the threat of violence, male-dominant cultures lead us to believe that such control and violence are inevitable and even natural.
Yet long ago and still, there are examples to the contrary. For instance, think of the difference between the extreme gender polarization of terrorist groups and the porous and flexible gender roles of more peaceful and democratic groups and nations, from Sweden to Kerala in southern India. The less gender-polarized the culture, the lower the degree of violence and the greater the degree of democracy.
As usual, everything grows like a tree: from the bottom up.”
“In many languages, even the world for human being is ‘one who goes on migrations.’”
“Perhaps our need to escape through media is a misplaced desire for the journey.”
“So many of us are living out the unlived lives of our mothers.”
“I have very little faith in heredity, and a lot of faith in the power of who raises us.”
“In most societies, a woman is encouraged to give birth to another person more than she’s encouraged to give birth to herself.”
“As a noun, mother may be good or bad, willing or unwilling, on welfare or rich, worshipped or blamed, dominating or nurturing, accidental or chosen.
Perhaps that’s why the word mother is so much used in profanity, as in motherfucking; in war, as in the mother of all bombs; or by warmakers who honor hero mothers who give birth to soldiers.
But when mother is a verb — as in to be mothered and to mother — ah, then the very best of human possibilities come into our imaginations.
To mother is to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own.
To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring.
To mother creates the only pairing in which the older and the younger, the strong and the weak are perfectly matched.
Mothering is also about free will. One can be forced to become a mother, but one cannot be forced to mother.
What Julia Ward Howe had in mind in 1870 when she invented Mother’s Day For Peace was a day on which we oppose war and advance peace. In other words, it wasn’t Mother’s Day but Mothering Day. It reminds us all, whether we’re young or old, male or female, of the possibilities that lie within us as human beings.”
“Women can’t have it all if that means doing it all.”
“If a woman spends a year bearing and nursing a child, why isn’t a man responsible for spending half the time plus another year raising a child? Logic is in the eye of the logician.”
“It’s not only that we live in a patriarchy. It’s that patriarchy lives within us. It’s not only that racism is all around us, it’s that racism is in us.”
“Because of racism, the white middle-class part of the movement gets reported more, but look at the numbers. In 1972, in the very first national poll of women responding to feminist issues, black women were twice as likely to support feminism and feminist issues as were white women.”
“Each of us has only thing to gain from the feminist movement: our whole humanity.”
“Gender has wrongly told us that some things are masculine and some things are feminine…which is bullshit.”
“The Golden Rule was written by a smart guy for guys, but women need to reverse it: Treat ourselves as we treat others.”
“The feminization of poverty equals the masculinization of wealth.”
“What happens to men is called politics. What happens to women is called culture.”
“Women have been trained to measure our effectiveness in love and approval. That makes it tough to be personally independent or to advocate basic change.”
“Women are becoming the men we wanted to marry. (But too few men are becoming the women they wanted to marry.)”
“Untangling sex from aggression and violence is going to take a very long time. It’s a challenge to the very heart of male dominance.”
“All the qualities that are wrongly called ‘feminine’ are really only qualities necessary to raise children: patience, nurturing, attention to detail, empathy. When men raise children, they develop these qualities too.”
“There are two reasons why people don’t support the word feminist: The first is they don’t know what it means. The second is they do know what it means.”
“Every child has the right to be born loved and wanted. This has been one of the most important argument for letting women decide when and whether to give birth.”
“For women, home is more dangerous than the road. Whether by dowry murders in India, honor killings in Egypt, or domestic violence in the U.S., stats show that women are more likely to be beaten or killed at home by men they know.”
“For 95% of human history, women decided when and whether to have children, and understood the use of herbs, abortifacients, and timing.”
“It took centuries of patriarchy, including the murder of six million ‘witches,’ healthcare wise women, to impose this control of women’s bodies that is the first step in every hierarchy.”
“Whenever women have been valued for our heads and hearts as well as our wombs, and allowed to decide when and whether to give birth, population has settled at just a little over replacement level.”
“If women can’t control our lives from the skin in, we can’t control our lives from the skin out.”
“Invading bodies is still less punished than invading property.”
“Your daughters are watching you. Every time a woman looks in a mirror and criticizes her body, a girl is watching.”
“When people say to me, ‘What should I tell my daughter?’ I always say: The most important thing is to listen. This is how she learns she has something to say.”
“Many people have begun to raise daughters more like sons, but too few people raise sons more like daughters.”
“If in our earliest, most intimate world we grow callous to a power difference among our own family members, how much easier will it be for us to accept all other hierarchies?”
“Only after I saw women who were attracted to distant, condescending, even violent men did I begin to understand that having a distant, condescending, even violent father could make those qualities seem inevitable, even like home. Because of my father, only kind men felt like home.”
“We don’t grow better or worse with age, just more like the unique selves we were born to be before made-up gender roles took over our central years.”
“Sometimes I flip off the ‘how I’m supposed to look and be’ signs as I fly past them on the way to my chosen dreams.” — Kathy Najimy
“Even work we love needs to be acknowledged, and for generations, women who work at home have been called women who don’t work. In fact, they perform about a third of all productive work in the U.S. and many other countries. In less developed parts of the world where women grow much of the food their families eat, this work at home is an even bigger part of the economy. Yet this indispensable work just doesn’t show up in the GDP. If it did, $513 billion more would be added to our national economy, and we would have more realistic facts on which to plan.
On top of that, even paid work is often valued more by who does it than by the work itself. For instance, white doctors earn more than black doctors, black female doctors earn less than black male doctors, and female childcare attendants often earn less than male parking lot attendants.
So while we’re fighting for better measures of work and how it’s rewarded, we can also focus on what work means.”
“My best job for learning was as a swimming instructor and lifeguard at a public city pool over a college summer. As the only white staff member on my shift at this pool in a black neighborhood, I learned from my patient coworkers who just waited for my self-consciousness to go away, then taught me how to play Bones with the kids, and, on rainy days, the card game Bid Whist with the staff. They also showed me how to survive with humor the white teen boys who shouted racist insults as they raced past on their bikes. When one of my male colleagues yelled back that I was just a ‘recessive gene,’ he was rewarded by their confusion. Since those boys made us laugh rather than fear, they finally stopped shouting.
Altogether, I probably learned more useful knowledge in my high school and college jobs than in the classroom.”
“At lectures, I often say:
Promise me that in the next 24 hours, you will commit one outrageous act in the cause of justice. It could be as simple as saying ‘Pick it up yourself,’ or as radical as telling each other our salaries. And if you do, I promise you two things: First, the world will be better by the very next day. Second, you’ll have such a good time that you’ll never again wake up saying, ‘Will I do an outrageous act?’ Only, ‘Which outrageous act will I do today!”
“Women are always saying, ‘We can do anything that men can do.’ But men aren’t saying, ‘We can do anything that women can do.’”
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.”
“There are really not many jobs that actually require a penis or a vagina, and all other occupations should be open to everyone.”
“Once, sexual harassment was just called life. Once, domestic violence was just called life. We could insert many words in here, all thanks to the women’s movement, which invented terms to make the invisible visible. For something to become distinct, it has to have a name. As Susanne K. Langer, the great American philosopher said, ‘The notion of giving something a name is the vastest generative idea that was ever conceived.’ No wonder patriarchal marriage took women’s names away, and egalitarian marriage is giving them back.”
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word gender does not exist, where everyone can be a unique self.”
“You can tell what your values are by looking at how you spend your extra money.”
“The world is divided into two kinds of people. Those who divide everything in two, and those who don’t.”
“Feminism starts out being the instinct of the little child who says, ‘It’s not fair.’ It ends up being a worldview that questions hierarchy altogether.”
“A pedestal is as much a prison as any other small space. (This was said to be a warning by black suffragists to white wives of plantation owners in the South.)”
“Not one study has proved that women talk more than men, but numerous studies indicate that men talk more than women. Women are thought to be more talkative than men because they’re being measured against the expectation of female silence.”
“Audiences turn into partners if you listen to them as much as you talk.”
“If you tell me a stat, I’ll make up a story to explain why it’s true. Our brains are organized by narrative and image, not facts and numbers.”
“It’s truly amazing how long we can go on accepting myths that oppose our own lives.”
“It’s not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” — Audre Lorde
“When men are oppressed, it’s tragedy. When women are oppressed, it’s tradition.” — Bernadette Mosala
“Laughter arrives when two opposites collide and suddenly create a third, when we have a flash of understanding, when a punch line changes everything that has gone before, when we glimpse a new possibility. Albert Einstein once famously said that he had to be very careful while shaving because if he had a new idea, he laughed and cut himself.
Laughter is the most contagious of all emotions. Our pulse and blood pressure go up. We breathe faster and send more oxygen to our brains. A doctor found that a minute of laughter stimulated his heart as much as ten minutes of rowing. It’s a full-on collaboration between mind and body.
Because the power to say things that create laughter really is a power, women are not supposed to have it. Female comics are relatively rare and new. This may also be because studies show that what women fear most in men is violence, but what men fear most in women is ridicule.”
“Often asked why you’re not married? Explain: I can’t mate in captivity!”
“Whatever you want to do, just do it. Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential.”
“Consider the Women’s March of 2017. There were so many people in DC that there was no room to march. On the same day, there were also Women’s Marches in 400+ cities and towns across this country. It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. And there were Women’s Marches of support in 81 countries on all seven continents.
Yet in all these marches — in this country and as far as is known, around the world — there was not one reported case of violence.
Now that we know how to take back the streets, words and votes are following.”
“For women, the only alternative to being a feminist is being a masochist.”
“The ends don’t justify the means — the means we use dictate the end we get.”
“If everyone has a full circle of human qualities to complete, progress lies in the direction we haven’t been. It’s progress for men to develop so-called feminine qualities and for women to develop so-called masculine qualities. We are all becoming full human beings.”