9 Of The Best Feminist Quotes From Celebs In The '90s
With every new year, it gets a little bit more depressing every time I think about how far away the '90s are getting. The '90s are a time that are near and dear to my heart, and even though I was in elementary school for much of the decade, I still rocked my scrunchie socks and blasted the Spice Girls like all of my older cousins. Looking back as an adult, I realize that the '90s were ahead of their time, in the feminist sense especially. We lived in a world of Lilith Fair and Sex and the City, where women were making huge strides and speaking their minds like never before, and the nine feminist quotes from celebs in the '90s below really show that.
I didn't notice back then how important it was that I was able to wear platform shoes and yell out "Girl Power!" in unison with thousands of other young women at a Spice Girls show. And even before that, women in music were speaking out about the industry and pay inequality in Hollywood, which is a battle that is still being fought today. In the '90s, women were embracing their sexuality and demanding respect, and many of these celebs are still fighting the feminist fight, all these years later.
1. Shannen Doherty
Doherty had a reputation as a bad girl on the set of 90210, but this strong lady shared her strong opinions in an interview with Us Magazine in 1993 when she spoke out about anyone policing a woman's body. "I've been asked [if I had] breast implants. I don't feel it's worth my time to even comment on it," she said. "Whether I did or not, it's absolutely nobody's business but my own. But I feel that if somebody wants to have [plastic surgery], more power to them."
2. Hilary Clinton
In 1995, while still First Lady, Hillary Clinton delivered a powerful speech at the U.N.'s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. While full of many wonderful quotes, one of her most powerful comments was on the banning of burqas in Europe:
We need to understand there is no one formula for how women should lead our lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her own God-given potential. But we must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected... If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all.
3. Jennifer Lopez
In 1998, Lopez was on her way to becoming a household name and in a very candid interview with Movieline, she shared her thoughts on everything from why she's a superstar ("I feel I can do anything — any kind of role. I'm fearless.") to fighting to have equal pay as her male counterparts. She said,
[Universal] thought they were going to get me cheap from the beginning, but I kept telling my agent, "No, no, no! Keep asking!" When my agent called me saying, "What should we say to them?" I said, "Say, who’s going to break their ass to promote this movie while George is on ER?" People don’t believe it yet, but right now I’m very underpaid.
One of TLC's most empowering songs is the 1999 hit "Unpretty," which T-Boz wrote as a poem. She shared in an MTV interview the journey of her poem to a hit song, which inspired millions of women around the world:
He thought it was a good concept and title... We put it in the format of a relationship, because men mostly make women feel like they're not good enough. TLC embraced it, we did a video, it went No. 1, and here I am now with a Grammy nomination and we'll see what happens after this.
5. Sarah McLachlan
In the early '90s, a concert promoter asked McLachlan if she thought it was smart to put two women on a concert bill when she wanted Paula Cole to open for her. After that, McLachlan was determined to prove that women could play side by side and be as successful as men, and eventually started the all-women festival Lilith Fair. In an nterview with Innerviews in 1997, she said of the festival,
There's so much media hype about women taking over the music industry, but really, we're just finally being heard and things are just becoming a bit more balanced... We're here to make a point, but it's not reactionary. We're simply saying "Let's celebrate this — that there are so many women making great music out there." I'd like to see these attitudes get far beyond the music industry too — especially with young girls who'll come away having seen so many role models doing such a positive thing. When I grew up there were so few role models like that.
6. Emma Bunton Aka Baby Spice
The Spice Girls don't often get the proper credit they deserve for being some of the first pop stars to fully embrace feminism and make it popular for the masses. Their brand of girl power embodied different styles and attitudes, which allowed many young women to identify with any one, or all, of the Spice Girls. Emma Bunton said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Just because you’ve got a short skirt and a pair of t*ts, you can still say what you want to say."
7. Lauren Graham
After the success of feminist television treasure trove Gilmore Girls , Graham openly shared her ideas of motherhood and how she related to single (and fabulous) mother, Lorelei Gilmore in a 2000 (it's close enough!) interview with E! News. She said, "One of the things I like about the show is it redefines the idea of what it is to be a mother, which at its most basic level is to take care of a child. It doesn't mean you have to look like the ladies in the Lysol commercials."
8. Lil' Kim
The Queen Bee owned her sexuality in a sea of men in hip hop in the '90s and she made some beautiful points in an epic 1997 interview for Paper magazine with feminist icon, bell hooks. She said of being a sexual woman entertainer and the double standards,
Because we have people like Too Short, Luke Skyywalker [of 2 Live Crew], Biggie [Smalls], Elvis Presley, Prince, who are very, very, very sexual, and they don't get trashed because they like to do it. But all of a sudden, we have a female who happens to be a rapper, like me, and my doin' it is wrong. And 'cause I like doin' it, it's even more wrong because we've fought for years as women to do the same things that men are doing.
9. Fiona Apple
After winning MTV VMAs Best New Artist in 1997, angst-ridden 19-year-old Apple cause fascination with her sullen music and views on sexuality and body image. In a time when speaking about assault was extremely taboo, she spoke to Interview magazine openly about how she turned her overcoming her rape into something to empower her. She said,
Rape is the most humiliating thing that can be done to you; it's the most vulnerable that you can be. But once I realized that, I became a stronger person and faced all my fears. Now it's like, Well, the worst has happened and I'm fine. Now I feel like whatever I can do, no one can hurt me. I cannot be violated, I cannot be humiliated, I cannot be disregarded. I cannot be disrespected. I respect myself and believe in what I'm doing, no one can touch me.
Although we as women are still overcoming the obstacles before us, it is inspiring to know that these women felt strong enough to lift their voices in a time when they were even more silenced. Whether it is about owning our sexuality or demanding equality in work and relationships, the opinions are all important and needed.