Inequality Is Still Alive and Kicking

March 30, 2012

The saying “what’s old is new again” popped into my mind as I reflected recently on the passing of yet another March honoring women in history. I love history in all forms, about all subjects, and one constant in our ever-changing world is the vicious cycle of history repeating itself. As I read the headlines on women’s issues today, my thoughts ranged from I thought women had obtained that right years ago to horror as I read examples of women’s rights abuses on such an extensive global scale. Type “women’s rights” into any online search engine, and you’ll see what I mean.

To show this cycle of repeating history, I found a few quotes that continue to resonate. Special thanks to the Women in World History curriculum for some of the older quotes. Laugh, frown, get inspired, or groan as you read, and then share one or more of your favorite quotes.

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” — Plato (427 B.C.–347 B.C.)

“My honor was not yielded, but conquered merely.” — Cleopatra (69 B.C.–30 B.C.)

“Who has forbidden women to engage in private and individual studies? Have they not a rational soul as men do? … I have this inclination to study, and if it is evil, I am not the one who formed me thus — I was born with it, and with it I shall die.” — Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651–1695)

“Women have the right to mount the scaffold; they should likewise have the right to mount the rostrum.” — Olympe de Gouges, (1748–1793)

“By the way, in the new code of laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors … 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 (1744–1818)

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness,” [said Captain Harville]. “But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall,” [said Anne Elliott]. “Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” — Jane Austen, Persuasion (1775–1817)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)

“When the true history of the anti-slavery cause shall be written, women will occupy a large space in its pages, for the cause of the slave has been peculiarly woman’s cause.” — Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

“Today, the two hundred million men in our country are entering into a civilized new world. But we, the two hundred million women, are still kept down in the dungeon.” — Qiu Jin, (1875–1907)

“Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation.” — Margaret Sanger (1879–1966)

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

“People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” — Cicely Isabel Fairfield, pen name Rebecca West (1892–1983)

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks (1913–2005)

“This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives.” — Bella Abzug (1920–1998)

“In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

“More countries have understood that women’s equality is a prerequisite for development.” — Kofi Annan, June 2000

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Rush Limbaugh, February 2012

“Society will not abide by such laws until we get rid of that which is our tradition and stems from our Christian mentality: Man is the higher being, as woman was made from Adam’s rib. Consequently, she is the lesser being.” — Volydymyr Lytvyn, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, March 2012

By:   |   March 30, 2012


  1. Christy Jones, CAE says:

    Thanks Ann, it’s not a painting I wanted to create! Equality would make a much more meaningful work…

  2. Bobbie Steele (@bobbiesteele) says:

    Fantastic collection! I have been and continue to be inspired by many of these great voices in my endeavors to level the playing field for women in the political arena. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ann Becker-Schutte (@DrBeckerSchutte) says:

    What a powerful collection of quotes. Thanks for taking the time to curate it. These words paint a picture that is hard to ignore.

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