Quotations about   sexism

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And power must ne’er be yielded to a woman.
For if we must succumb, ’twere better far
To crouch before a man; and thus at least
No one could taunt us with a woman’s rule.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 679ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
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Alternate translations:

And yield to title to a woman's will.
Better, if needs be, men should cast us out
Than hear it said, a woman proved his match.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

And not go down before a woman's will.
Else, if I fall, 'twere best a man should strike me;
Lest one should say, 'a woman worsted him.'
[tr. Storr (1859)]

And in no way can we let a woman defeat us. It is better to fall from power, if it is fated, by a man's hand, than that we be called weaker than women.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

We will not yield
To a weak woman; if we must submit,
At least we will be conquered by a man,
Nor by a female arm thus fall inglorious.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

In no wise suffer a woman to worst us. Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man's hand; then we should not be called weaker than a woman.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And no woman shall seduce us. If we must lose,
Let's lose to a man, at least! Is a woman stronger than we?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 539-40]

... not let myself be beaten by a woman.
Better, if it must happen, that a man
should overset me.
I won't be called weaker than womankind.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

We must not be
Defeated by a woman. Better far
Be overthrown, if need be, by a man
Than to be called the victim of a woman.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Never let some woman triumph over us.
Better to fall from power, if fall we must,
at the hands of a man -- never be rated
inferior to a woman, never.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

And there must be no surrender to a woman.
No! If we call, better a man should take us down.
Never say that a woman bested us!
[tr. Woodruff (2001), l. 669 ff]

Defeat by a woman must never happen.
It is better, if it is bound to happen, to be expelled by a man.
We could not be called "defeated by women" -- could not.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002), l. 678ff]

Under no circumstances must he allow a woman to defeat him. It would be best -- if needs be -- to be defeated by a man, rather then allow it to be said that women have taken over.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

And never let some woman beat us down.
If we must fall from power, let that come
at some man's hand -- at least, we won't be called
inferior to any woman.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 770ff]
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-21
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How then do you demand Chastity, while thou dost not yourself observe it? How do you demand that which thou dost not give? How, though you are equally a body, do you legislate unequally? If you enquire into the worse — the Woman sinned, and so did Adam. The serpent deceived them both; and one was not found to be the stronger and the other the weaker. But do you consider the better? Christ saves both by His Passion. Was He made flesh for the Man? So He was also for the woman. Did He die for the Man? The Woman also is saved by His death. He is called of the seed of David; and so perhaps you think the Man is honoured; but He is born of a Virgin, and this is on the Woman’s side. They two, He says, shall be one Flesh; so let the one flesh have equal honour.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) Byzantine prelate, Doctor of the Church, saint, rhetorician [Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός; Gregory the Theologian]
Oration 37, sec. 7 [tr. Browne & Swallow]
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Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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A critical, strong speech made by a man is “blunt” or “outspoken” or “pulls no punches.” A speech of similar force and candor made by a woman is “waspish,” “sarcastic,” or “cutting.” A man of strong opinions is defined as having “deep convictions.” A woman so constituted is merely “opinionated,” and always “aggressive.”

Marya Mannes (1904-1990) American author and critic [pen name "Sec"]
Out of My Time (1971)
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Added on 28-Oct-20 | Last updated 28-Oct-20
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How unhappy are women! Their own sex their most inveterate enemy. An husband tyrannizes; a lover dishonors and despises them. Watched on all sides, thwarted in all things; ever in fear and in constraint; without support or succour; with a number of lovers but not one friend. Is it then to be wondered at that they should become a compound of humor, dissimulation, and caprice?

Anne "Ninon" de l'Enclos (1620-1705) French author, courtesan, patron of the arts [Ninon de Lenclos, Ninon de Lanclos]
The Memoirs of Ninon de L’Enclos, Vol. 1, “Life and Character” (1761)
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Added on 25-Aug-20 | Last updated 25-Aug-20
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Lesbian: Any uppity woman, regardless of sexual preference. If they don’t call you a lesbian, you’re probably not accomplishing anything.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 14-May-20 | Last updated 14-May-20
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Male supremacy: Doctrine built upon three forms of superiority: the ability to grow a handlebar mustache, the ability to answer most of Nature’s calls efficiently, and the possession of pockets.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 7-May-20 | Last updated 7-May-20
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Ridicule: After rape, the second most powerful method of controlling women.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 30-Apr-20 | Last updated 30-Apr-20
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Lesbian: Any uppity woman, regardless of sexual preference. If they don’t call you a lesbian, you’re probably not accomplishing anything.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 10-Apr-20 | Last updated 10-Apr-20
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Pocket Envy: Women’s unfulfilled yearning for practical clothes

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 2-Apr-20 | Last updated 2-Apr-20
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Makeup: Western equivalent of the veil. A daily reminder that something is wrong with women’s normal looks. A public apology.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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Perhaps the condition of women affords, in all countries, the best criterion by which to judge the character of men.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
Views of Society and Manners in America, Letter 23, Mar. 1820 (1821)
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Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Ms. (Mar 1973). Also attributed to Gloria Steinem, though Steinem has attributed the quote to Kennedy.
Added on 1-May-17 | Last updated 1-May-17
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If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
Speech, Washington, DC (15 May 1971)

Quoted in Off Our Backs (24 Jun 1971). Gloria Steinem, who also used the phrase, later claimed it was said to her and Kennedy by an "old Irish woman taxi driver" in Boston, but she attributed it at other times to Kennedy herself. More info here.
Added on 24-Apr-17 | Last updated 24-Apr-17
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All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Preface (1848)
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Added on 2-Feb-17 | Last updated 2-Feb-17
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The oppression of women knows no ethnic nor racial boundaries, true, but that does not mean it is identical within those boundaries.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“An Open Letter to Mary Daly” (6 May 1979)
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Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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There is a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to the gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women … recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution, and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man.

Gustave LeBon (1841-1931) German psychologist
Revue d’Anthropologie (1879)
Added on 10-Feb-16 | Last updated 10-Feb-16
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Ought not every woman, like every man, to follow the bent of her own talents?

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 14, ch. 1 (1807)
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, ch. 9 (1978)
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Added on 30-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as Beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Adams (31 Mar 1776)
Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 5-Jun-15
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Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in and day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salvâ reverentiâ) as a virile member of society.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“The Human-Not-Quite-Human,” Unpopular Opinions (1947)
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Reprinted in her Are Women Human? (1971).
Added on 29-Sep-14 | Last updated 29-Sep-14
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In the old times, women did not get their lives written, though I don’t doubt many of them were much better worth writing than the men’s.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
The Pearl of Orr’s Island (1862)
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Added on 26-Feb-14 | Last updated 26-Feb-14
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Some will object, that a comparison cannot fairly be made between the government of the male sex and the forms of unjust power which I have adduced in illustration of it, since these are arbitrary, and the effect of mere usurpation, while it on the contrary is natural. But was there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it?

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
The Subjection of Women, ch. 1 (1869)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Jan-20
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