40 Feminist Quotes That Inspire and Provoke Thoughts Among Women

Who Run the World? Girls!

FT Crew

FT Crew

Dec 30, 2020|8 min read


Feminism and feminist quotes are words that get thrown around a lot. So, what is feminism? There seem to be a number of definitions and jargon surrounding the term. Feminism like all movements is an evolving ideology that encapsulates a number of theories and subsets that boils down to equality. 

While it started out as a movement that fought for basic rights for women it has evolved into a more complex ideology with nuanced arguments that includes gender, caste, class, sexuality, race and religion. There have been a number of individuals who have paved the way for women and marginalised communities to have basic rights. 

Feminists across the globe, pose questions and constantly fight for equality in all spheres of public and private life for people belonging to all genders. Here are some powerful and inspirational feminist quotes that will satisfy your feminist soul.

1.“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

2.“You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female’.”  - Erin McKean

3.“The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” - Emma Watson

4.“Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power.” - Shonda Rhimes

5.“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”   -Beyoncé

6.“Women must learn to play the game as men do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

7.“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” - Maya Angelou

8.“Teach her that the idea of 'gender roles' is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should or should not do something because she is a girl. 'Because you are a girl' is never reason for anything. Ever.”  - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

9.“The emerging woman ... will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied ... strength and beauty must go together.” - Louisa May Alcott

10.“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” - Margaret Atwood

11.“Feminism is for everybody.” - Bell Hooks

12.“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.” - Simone de Beauvoir

Intersectional Feminists

Feminism has evolved into being more inclusive and intersectional feminism embodies that inclusivity. Oppression comes in many forms, patriarchy being just one of the many oppressive structures that govern our society. 

Intersectional Feminism includes caste, race, class, sexuality, gender identity and religion in its discourse and looks at oppression in its entirety. Listed below are some intersectional feminist quotes.

13.“They cannot stand that a refugee, a black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, shows up in Congress thinking she's equal to them. But I say to them, 'How else did you expect me to show up?” - Ilhan Omar

14.“I don't want to be included. Instead, I want to question who created the standard in the first place. After a lifetime of embodying difference, I have no desire to be equal. I want to deconstruct the structural power of a system that marked me out as different. I don't wish to be assimilated into the status quo. I want to be liberated from all the negative assumptions that my characteristics bring.” - Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

15.“I will keep writing about these intersections as a writer and a teacher, as a black woman, as a bad feminist, until I no longer feel like what I want is impossible. I no longer want to believe that these problems are too complex for us to make sense of them.” - Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

16.“The feminism that has mattered to the media and made magazine headlines in recent years has been the feminism most useful to heterosexual, high-earning middle- and upper-middle-class white women. Public ‘career feminists’ have been more concerned with getting more women into 'boardrooms’, when the problem is that there are altogether too many boardrooms, and none of them are on fire.” -Laurie Penny, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution

17.“As a child of immigrant parents, as a woman of color in a white society and as a woman in a patriarchal society, what is personal to me IS political.” - Mitsuye Yamada

18.“In a world where positive expressions of sexual longing connect us, we will all be free to choose those sexual practices which affirm and nurture our growth. Those practices may range from choosing promiscuity or celibacy, from embracing one specific sexual identity and preference or choosing a roaming uncharted desire that is kindled only by interaction and engagement with specific individuals with whom we feel the spark of erotic recognition no matter their sex, race, class, or even their sexual preference. Radical feminist dialogues about sexuality must surface so that the movement towards sexual freedom can begin again.” - Bell Hooks

19.“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.” - Audre Lorde

20.“If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”  - Zora Neale Hurston

21.“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class — it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.” - Anna Julia Cooper

22.“Our beliefs about bodies disproportionately impact those whose race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and age deviate from our default notions. The further from the default, the greater the impact. We are all affected - but not equally.” - Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

23.“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” - Virginia Woolf

24.“The key theoretical and political question is not, therefore, how class (in the Marxist sense) ‘intersects’ with the various identities where individuals are presumably located, but how to differentiate between the effects of capitalist class power upon large and heterogeneous (in terms of identity) sectors of the working class, and the effects of identity-based interactions and conflicts within those sectors.” - Martha A. Gimenez

25.“The feminine section of the proletarian army is of particularly great significance... the success of a revolution depends on the extent to which women take part in it.” - Vladimir Lenin

26.“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” - Dolores Huerta

Queer Feminism

Often feminism is heteronormative and does not include queer individuals. It is integral to empower marginalised sections of society and queer feminism illustrates the need to include LGBTQIA+ individuals within mainstream feminism. Here are some queer feminist quotes that bring in colour and pride to the feminist discourse.

27.“Why do we even need to vote on things like gay and women’s rights, like why are we even voting on whether or not someone gets rights or not.” - Myles

28.“Find out who you are and be that person. That's what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come.” - Ellen DeGeneres

29.“Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power - not because they don't see it, but because they see it and they don't want it to exist.” - Janet Mock

30.“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain. I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.” - Elliot Page

31.“I think trans women, and trans people 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

32.“So many people are concerned with being the perfect 'something.' Whether it's the perfect singer, the perfect sexy girl, or the perfect feminist. I don't want to be the perfect anything.” - Halsey

33.“When I use the enemy's language to hold onto my strength as a Mohawk lesbian writer, I use it as my own instrument of power in this long, long battle against racism.” Beth Brant

Indian Feminists

Given the current political and social climate the Indian demographic is in dire need of strong feminists. The feminist ideology is growing popular within the country and several inspirational individuals ranging from authors and film stars to politicians and social activists have participated in this movement. Listed below are some of the most prominent feminist quotes by Indian feminists.

34.“A political struggle that does not have women at the heart of it, above it, below it, and within it is no struggle at all.” - Arundhati Roy

35.“My struggle is my message to the people.” - Irom Chanu Sharmila, ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’

36.“We are threatened every day, our voices crushed; but we will continue to fight.” - Soni Sori, Adivasi activist, politician 

37.“We shall overcome and success will be ours in the future. The future belongs to us.” - Savitribai Phule

38.“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on it and the perseverance to follow it.”– Kalpana Chawla

39.“Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their value system leads to the development of a good family, society and ultimately a good nation.”- APJ Abdul Kalam

40.“I think we are so deeply entrenched in a patriarchal mindset, that men are as much victims of patriarchy as women are. When we can shake that off, that is what a feminist would be, whether a man or a woman.” – Shabana Azmi

An unequal society is an unproductive society, feminism as a movement and an ideology seek to highlight the oppression that continues to exist in the 21st century and feminists fight for marginalised communities to have the same opportunities as the elite do. 

The pen is more powerful than the sword and I hope that the words of these powerful and inspirational feminists have illustrated why feminism is important and is required now more than ever before. Hope these feminist quotes will enlighten you and help you emerge as a winner.

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