Quotations about women and their place in the world. What men and women think about women: sometimes humorous, sometimes insightful, sometimes outrageous. (And no, I don’t agree with all of these!)

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If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

— Abigail Adams

Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. . . . Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.

— Abigail Adams

Life on the planet is born of woman.

— Adrienne Rich

There is a woman at the beginning of all great things.

— Alphonse de Lamartine

Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.

— Amelia Earhart

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

To understand how a society functions, you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.

— Angela Davis

A lot of guys think the larger a woman’s breasts are, the less intelligent she is. I don’t think it works like that. I think it’s the opposite. I think the larger a woman’s breasts are, the less intelligent the men become.

— Anita Wise

Slowly … the truth is dawning upon women, and still more slowly upon men, that woman is no stepchild of nature, no Cinderella of fate to be dowered only by fairies and the Prince; but that for her and in her, as truly as for and in man, life has wrought its great experiences, its master attainments, its supreme human revelations of the stuff of which worlds are made.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

Can a woman become a genius of the first class? Nobody can know unless women in general shall have equal opportunity with men in education, in vocational choice, and in social welcome of their best intellectual work for a number of generations.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

To the highest leadership among women it is given to hold steadily in one hand the sacred vessels that hold the ancient sanctities of life, and in the other a flaming torch to light the way for oncoming generations.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

It is not alone the fact that women have generally had to spend most of their strength in caring for others that has handicapped them in individual effort; but also that they have almost universally had to care wholly for themselves.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

It is fair to assume that when women in the past have achieved even a second or third place in the ranks of genius they have shown far more native ability than men have needed to reach the same eminence. Not excused from the more general duties that constitute the cement of society, most women of talent have had but one hand free with which to work out their ideal conceptions.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

Anyone can see that to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the knee in the kitchen, with constant calls to cooking and other details of housework to punctuate the paragraphs, was a more difficult achievement than to write it at leisure in a quiet room.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

It is an old error of man to forget to put quotation marks where he borrows from a woman’s brain!

— Anna Garlin Spencer

Of all the wastes of human ignorance perhaps the most extravagant and costly to human growth has been the waste of the distinctive powers of womanhood after the child-bearing age.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

The universal social pressure upon women to be all alike, and do all the same things, and to be content with identical restrictions, has resulted not only in terrible suffering in the lives of exceptional women, but also in the loss of unmeasured feminine values in special gifts. The Drama of the Woman of Genius has too often been a tragedy of misshapen and perverted power.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

At the outstart of discussions of women’s intellectual attainments, it is well to remember how few are the men of the first rank.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

A successful woman preacher was once asked “what special obstacles have you met as a woman in the ministry?” “Not one,” she answered, “except the lack of a minister’s wife.”

— Anna Garlin Spencer

The friendship between a man and a woman which does not lead to marriage or desire for marriage may be a life long experience of the greatest value to themselves and to all their circle of acquaintance and of activity; but for this type of friendship both a rare man and a rare woman are needed. Perhaps it should be added that either the man or the woman thus deeply bound in lifelong friendship who seeks marriage must find a still rarer man or woman to wed, to make such a three cornered comradeship a permanent success.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

No book has yet been written in praise of a woman who let her husband and children starve or suffer while she invented even the most useful things, or wrote books, or expressed herself in art, or evolved philosophic systems.

— Anna Garlin Spencer, Woman’s Share in Social Culture, 1912

The failure of women to produce genius of the first rank in most of the supreme forms of human effort has been used to block the way of all women of talent and ambition for intellectual achievement in a manner that would be amusingly absurd were it not so monstrously unjust and socially harmful.

— Anna Garlin Spencer, Woman’s Share in Social Culture, 1912

And when her biographer says of an Italian woman poet, ‘during some years her Muse was intermitted,’ we do not wonder at the fact when he casually mentions her ten children.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? ‘Keep her,’ I replied…. The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me.

— Anna Quindlen

A woman can say more in a sigh than a man can say in a sermon.

— Arnold Haultain

Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves — along with the renewed courage to try them out.

— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984

What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman’s face? What woman’s terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?

— Audre Lorde

Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. I wish him well!

— Barbara Bush

When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.

— Bette Davis

I would like it if men had to partake in the same hormonal cycles to which we’re subjected monthly. Maybe that’s why men declare war — because they have a need to bleed on a regular basis.

— Brett Butler
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