Pat Robertson once infamously said, “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
Rush Limbaugh routinely attacks any feminist as a “Feminazi,” despite once saying that his definition of “Feminazi” was very narrow and specific and didn’t apply to all feminists.
These white, male, conservative, misogynistic voices have successfully waged a fearmongering campaign about feminism that has put too many feminists on the defensive. Even I, a self-proclaimed feminist since adolescence, used to reassure friends and family with, “But I’m not a Feminazi–I’m an equal-opportunist.” I’m grateful to a fellow feminist and friend in my Furman days who pointed out that by using the language of misogynists, I was giving power to the caricature.
So today I want you to forget everything you’ve ever heard about feminism from those who criticize it. Ignore the sexist, insidious language from the wealthy white men who think it’s okay for men to cheat on their wives. Instead, consider the following collection of thoughts on feminism, from feminists ourselves.
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” -Marie Shear
“Does feminist mean large unpleasant person who’ll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings? To me it’s the latter, so I sign up.” -Margaret Atwood
“My spirituality has always been linked to my feminism. Feminism is about challenging unequal power structures.” -Starhawk
“I didn’t learn about patriarchy from the feminists. I learned about patriarchy from the Church… Just as it was the Church that introduced me to patriarchy; it was the Church that introduced me to equality.” -Rachel Held Evans
“We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people, including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong exclusively in the home.” -Rosalyn Sussman
“Men define intelligence, men define usefulness, men tell us what is beautiful, men even tell us what is womanly.” -Sally Kempton
“I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.” -Beyonce
Women, regardless of what you know about feminism, we need to stop letting misogynistic men define our conversations about it. If you know very little about feminism, give me a chance to introduce it to you through my Feminism 101 series. If you know a lot about feminism, don’t fall into the same defensive trap that I did. Own your feminism! Be proud that you support the radical notion that women are people too.
Misattributed quotations are a huge problem on the Internet, and I’ve done my best to avoid that. I checked each of these quotations on feminism with several sources, but it is still possible I got one of them wrong. If you believe I misquoted or misattributed a quotation, please let me know in the comments! Otherwise, feel free to share your favorite feminist quotations with me.