6 Feminist Quotes From The 1980s That Are Still Relevant Today

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: Maya Angelou speaks during the AARP Magazine's 2011 Inspire Awards at Ronald Reagan Building on December 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Source: Kris Connor/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

With second-wave feminism well underway and the sex wars drawing national attention, the 1980s were an interesting time for women's rights. That's why it's so informative to go through the most famous feminist quotes from the 1980s. From Gloria Steinem to Maya Angelou, a lot of the feminist icons we still hear about now were prominent voices in the movement, and a lot of the things they had to say are still extremely relevant to today's biggest debates. 

While the first-wave feminism of the 1800s and early 1900s focused on the right to vote, the second-wave feminism that lasted from the '60s until the early '80s touched on a lot of issues that are still being debated, like reproductive rights, sexual autonomy, and workplace equality. Here are some quotes from the 1980s feminist movement that should sound very familiar to us even if we weren't around then, because they express a lot of sentiments that are still important to hear right now. 

1. “The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist, and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.” 

bell hooks, Author and Feminist Theorist


2. “Now, we are becoming the men we wanted to marry. Once, women were trained to marry a doctor, not be one.” 

Gloria Steinem, Feminist Activist


3. "One does not have to sleep with, or even touch, someone who has paid for your meal. All those obligations are hereby rendered null and void, and any man who doesn't think so needs a quick jab in the kidney." 

4. “The most pernicious message relayed by pornography is that women are natural sexual prey to men and love it; that sexuality and violence are congruent; and that for women sex is essentially masochistic, humiliation pleasurable, physical abuse erotic. But along with this message comes another, not always recognized: that enforced submission and the use of cruelty, if played out in heterosexual pairing, is sexually 'normal,' while sensuality between women, including erotic mutuality and respect, is 'queer,' 'sick,' and either pornographic in itself or not very exciting compared with the sexuality of whips and bondage."

Adrienne Rich, Writer

5. “Like all people, we perceive the version of reality that our culture communicates. Like others having or living in more than one culture, we get multiple, often opposing messages. The coming together of two self-consistent but habitually incomparable frames of reference causes un choque, a cultural collision.” 

— Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Author and Cultural Theorist


6. "Why did she want to go to sea and live the rough unglamorous life of a seaman? ‘Because they told me Negro women couldn’t get in the union. You know what I told them?’ I shook my head, although I nearly knew. I told them, 'You want to bet?' I’ll put my foot in that door up to my hip until women of every color can walk over my foot, get in that union, get aboard a ship, and go to sea.'” 

Maya Angelou, Poet

Images: Wikimedia Commons; Amazon; K. Kendal (1,2)/Flickr 

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