Sexism is any discrimination on the basis of sex, as with the long history of patriarchal dominance by men of women. Feminism seeks to end sexism. Find here some quotations about sexism and what to do about it.

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If the preservation of the home means the enslavement of women, economically or morally, then we had better break it.

— Agnes Macphail

I think I’ve always had a certain amount of skepticism of this whole ‘shut up and smile’ theory. I haven’t ever swallowed that pill so easily, although I tried.

— Amber Heard

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

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

Certainly there are very real differences between us of race, age, and sex. But it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions that result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation.

Racism, the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance. Sexism, the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over the other and thereby the right to dominance. Ageism. Heterosexism. Elitism. Classism.

It is a lifetime pursuit for each one of us to extract these distortions from our living at the same time as we recognize, reclaim, and define those differences upon which they are imposed. For we have all been raised in a society where those distortions were endemic within our living. Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all. This results in a voluntary isolation, or false and treacherous connections. Either way, we do not develop tools for using human difference as a springboard for creative change within our lives. We speak not of human difference, but of human deviance.

— Audre Lorde

Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago. It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.

— bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.

— bell hooks

Working to make those inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist.

— Beyoncé

In a society in which equality is a fact, not merely a word, words of racial or sexual assault and humiliation will be nonsense syllables.

— Catharine MacKinnon

What postmodernism gives us instead is a multicultural defense for male violence – a defense for it wherever it is, which in effect is a pretty universal defense.

— Catharine MacKinnon

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.

— Charlotte Whitten

Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism.

— Claude Pepper

Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

— Coretta Scott King

Wherever there was injustice, war, discrimination against women, gays and the disadvantaged, I did my best to show up and exert moral persuasion.

— Coretta Scott King

To abandon affirmative action is to say there is nothing more to be done about discrimination.

— Coretta Scott King

Racism and sexism, misogyny and homophobia, they’re so visible. They’re out in the open. When they’re visible, it’s a lot easier to deal with them.

— Dolores Huerta

One ought to be against racism and sexism because they are wrong, not because one is Black or one is female.

— Eleanor Holmes Norton

Countermovements among racists and sexists and nazifiers are just as relentless as dirt on a coffee table. . . . Every housewife knows that if you don’t sooner or later dust . . . the whole place will be dirty again

— Florynce Kennedy

We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity and society cannot trample on the weakest of its members without receiving a curse upon its soul.

— Frances Ellen Walkins Harper

I do not believe that white women are dewdrops just exhaled from the skies.

— Frances Ellen Walkins Harper

I say that justice is not fulfilled so long as woman is unequal before the law.

— Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.

— Franklin Thomas

The system of patriarchy can function only with the cooperation of women. This cooperation is secured by a variety of means: gender indoctrination; educational deprivation; the denial of women of knowledge of their history; the dividing of women, on from another, by defining “respectability” and “deviance” according to women’s sexual activities; by restraints and outright coercion; by discrimination in access to economic resources and political power; and by awarding class privileges to conforming women.

— Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

Women have been kept from contributing to History-making, that is, the ordering and interpretation of the past of humankind. Since this process of meaning-giving is essential to the creation and perpetuation of civilization, we can see at once that women’s marginality in this endeavor places us in a unique and segregate posi­tion. Women are the majority, yet we are structured into social in­stitutions as though we were a minority.

— Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

What women must do, what feminists are now doing is to point to that stage, its sets, its props, its director, and its scriptwriter, as did the child in the fairy tale who discovered that the emperor was naked, and say, the basic inequality between us lies within this framework. And then they must tear it down.

— Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

As long as both men and women regard the subordination of half the human race to the other as “natural,” it is impossible to envision a society in which differences do not connote either dominance or subordination. The feminist critique of the patriarchal edifice of knowledge is laying the groundwork for a correct analysis of reality, one which at the very least can distinguish the whole from a part.

— Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.

— Germaine Greer

This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour in which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.

— Gloria Steinem

Men build bridges and throw railroads across deserts, and yet they contend successfully that the job of sewing on a button is beyond them. Accordingly, they don’t have to sew buttons.

— Heywood Broun

As usual, women were highly vulnerable to economic threat, whether as wives or workers or both. Marriage, divorce, and birth rates all fell sharply in the early 1930s. It was often too expensive to get a divorce or to have children. There was evidently a decline in sexual relations owing to fear of pregnancy, psychological demoralization following loss of a job, and women fatigued by having to work both outside and inside the home. Married women were tempting targets for legislators and organizations. Of 1,500 school systems contacted in 1930–31, over three-quarters would not hire married women and almost two-thirds dismissed women teachers if they were married. Although the unemployment rate for women was 4.7 percent in 1930 compared to 7.1 percent for men, this was partly because many women held low-income jobs for which men could not or would not compete.

— James MacGregor Burns, The American Experiment

It seems most unlikely that so much effort would have been put into making women artificially dependent on men if they had been naturally so.

— Janet Radcliffe Richards

Men may have had their own very good reasons for bringing women up in servitude, but the soul of a servant is not an attractive thing, and one of the most infuriating aspects of women’s constricted upbringing is that it has made them less attractive, even in the eyes of their constrictors, than they should have been. Man has twisted and pruned women out of all recognition and then not liked the results.

— Janet Radcliffe Richards

Feminism isn’t simply about being a woman in a position of power. It’s battling systemic inequities; it’s a social justice movement that believes sexism, racism and classism exist and interconnect, and that they should be consistently challenged.

— Jessica Valenti

Suffice to say, many women find their first appearance on a comedy panel show to be their last. Second chances seem to be given less often to the female of the species.

— Jo Brand

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. Kinda now.

— Joss Whedon

Misogyny is the law-enforcement branch of patriarchy.

— Kate Manne

However muted its present appearance may be, sexual dominion obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power.

— Kate Millett

‘Separate but unequal’ didn’t work in respect to race, it doesn’t work in respect to gender, and it especially doesn’t work when looking at the intersection of race and gender.

— Kimberlé Crenshaw

Black women’s intersectional experiences of racism and sexism have been a central but forgotten dynamic in the unfolding of feminist and antiracist agendas.

— Kimberlé Crenshaw

While white women and men of color also experience discrimination, all too often their experiences are taken as the only point of departure for all conversations about discrimination. Being front and center in conversations about racism or sexism is a complicated privilege that is often hard to see.

— Kimberlé Crenshaw

The struggle against patriarchy and racism must be substantively robust and inextricably intertwined.

— Kimberlé Crenshaw

When women are the advisers, the lords of creation don’t take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do; then they act upon it, and if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it; if it fails, they generously give her the whole.

— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.

— Louisa May Alcott

Whether it’s racism, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, xenophobia, religious intolerance or other bias – we demand to live in a country where we can be safe to be who we are, believe what we want and love whomever we want.

— Lucy McBath

‘We, the people of the United States.’ Which ‘We, the people’? The women were not included.

— Lucy Stone

We want rights. The flour-merchant, the house-builder, and the postman charge us no less on account of our sex; but when we endeavor to earn money to pay all these, then, indeed, we find the difference.

— Lucy Stone

In education, in marriage, in religion, in everything disappointment is the lot of women. It shall be the business of my life to deepen that disappointment in every woman’s heart until she bows down to it no longer.

— Lucy Stone

The times when black women have been successful in confronting and overcoming the structural and institutional sexism and racism that persists in our society have been when we are thoughtful and strategic about speaking up. It’s when we’ve done what it takes to introduce and implement our ideas and our plans to make things better.

— Marcia Fudge

The fact is that we live in a profoundly anti-female society, a misogynistic “civilization” in which men collectively victimize women, attacking us as personifications of their own paranoid fears, as The Enemy. Within this society it is men who rape, who sap women’s energy, who deny women economic and political power.

— Mary Daly

The problem for the Enlightenment man, the European bourgeois male, is how to reconcile the exclusion of those who are not equal — all people with disabilities; lesbians, gays, and bisexuals; women; racial minorities; nonprotestants; and people who are poor — within a framework of the fundamental equality of all human beings.

Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.

— Mary Wollstonecraft

Simple peck-order bullying is only the beginning of the kind of hierarchical behavior that can lead to racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, classism, and all the other ‘isms’ that cause so much suffering in the world.

— Octavia E. Butler

For everyone of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out. The light doesn’t always necessarily have to be in your family; for me it was teachers and school.

— Oprah Winfrey

The division of labor by sex has not put a lighter physical burden on women, as we might believe, if we look only at the mythology of chivalry in Western ruling class history. Quite the contrary, what was restricted for women was not physical labor, but mobility.

— Roxanne Dunbar

We live under an international caste system, at the top of which is the Western white male ruling class, and at the very bottom of which is the female of the non-white colonized world. There is no simple order of ‘oppressions’ within this caste system. Within each culture, the female is exploited to some degree by the male.

— Roxanne Dunbar

For whatever reason, I didn’t succumb to the stereotype that science wasn’t for girls. I got encouragement from my parents. I never ran into a teacher or a counselor who told me that science was for boys. A lot of my friends did.

— Sally Ride

It didn’t matter how good I was. It was always, ‘You’re a girl. You can’t play with the guys.’ It’s always been motivation for me.

— Sheryl Swoopes

In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing — anti-humanism.

— Shirley Chisholm

Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female — whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.

— Simone de Beauvoir

This has always been a man’s world, and none of the reasons that have been offered in explanation have seemed adequate.

— Simone de Beauvoir
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