In 2016, it wasn't just the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that had the country split; it actually seemed as if women's rights were also dividing the nation. In fact, across the board, there were a lot of feminist quotes in 2016 that should inspire you going forward, even if the future seems like a bleak one for women. Feminism felt like it was on the ballot — not just because Clinton became the first woman to run for president of a major political party, but also because the president-elect had a serious woman problem that included mocking women's weight, bragging about sexual assaulting them, and saying that he would reverse Roe v. Wade. The latter may be why it felt like celebrities were speaking out about the need for feminism this year, at a time that really illustrated that women were not being treated with the respect they deserved.
These nasty women — and some men, too — wanted to let the world know that women's rights are human rights, something Clinton had told the world a decade before. Before the ball drops on this less than stellar year — seriously, just check out the memes — it's worth looking back at the most empowering soundbites that 2016 had offer. The words of wisdom that will make you want to fight for your right and the rights of all women in 2017 and beyond.
1. "To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams." — Hillary Clinton
In her concession speech, Clinton didn't waiver and instead left her young female supporters with these powerful words.
2. "The question is, do you want to be paid the same for the same work? The question is, do you want control of your body? Let's retire 'I'm a humanist.'" — Tina Fey
In an interview with Bustle earlier this year, Fey expressed her frustration with people saying they are a humanist when asked if they are a feminist. To her, there's a difference and it is an important one.
3. "Well, I prefer the words 'one of the greatest athletes of all time'" — Serena Williams
This was Williams' response when a reporter told her that she'd go down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time after winning Wimbledon for the seventh time. It was her 22nd grand slam title.
4. "I'm trying to change how women think about themselves. Some people just don't get it. I've been denied jobs because I was too big. I've also been denied jobs because I was too small. At the end of the day, I'm never going to conform to what anybody wants. This is my body; I'm happy in it." — Ashley Graham
5. “Being tolerant is the future. It’s not being segregated.” — M.I.A.
In an interview with Pitchfork, M.I.A. talked about finding peace and gave her take on how the world could also find its peace.
6. "Is it fat-shaming if you know you're not fat and have zero shame in your game? Where's the shame? ...It's an illusion." — Amy Schumer
After critics said she was too heavy to play Barbie in a new movie, Schumer made her feelings clear on Instagram.
7. "When you are a marginalized person or a woman of color and/or someone who's a part of the LGBTQ community, your acts become politicized, just by being yourself." — Amandla Stenberg
8. "I always say that it would be great to interview men about feminism and not women. They need to change; we know women are great." — Peaches
Peaches, the singer behind Full Frontal With Samantha Bee's killer theme song, made this bold statement in Lenny Letter back in March. She makes a good point.
9. "When they go low, we go high" — Michelle Obama
The First Lady's wise words at the Democratic National Convention became a mantra worth repeating in 2016 and beyond.
10. “There’s a palpable excitement when someone has the part of a lead actress on a sitcom [and] does not look how you would normally think she would look." — Mindy Kaling
At the Women in the World Summit in New York, Kaling talked about the importance of having her own TV show as an Indian-American woman.
11. "It's not trailblazing to write the world as it actually is. Women are smart and strong. They are not sex toys or damsels in distress. People of color are not sassy or dangerous or wise. And believe me, people of color are never anybody's sidekick in real life." — Shonda Rhimes
After receiving the Producers Guild's Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television, Rhimes told the crowd that her vision to make TV more inclusive shouldn't be considered revolutionary, it should just be the way it is. Always and forever.
12. "It's so funny how there are no designers wanting to help me with a premiere dress [for Ghostbusters]. That will change, and I remember everything." — Leslie Jones
Jones took to Twitter to take any designers to task who didn't think she was special enough to dress. Sure, it sounds like a threat, but, in actuality, Jones was letting the world know that no matter your size you deserve to be treated with respect. Christian Siriano heard Jones' call and had no problem dressing her on her big night.
13. "I also feel like we should stop calling feminists 'feminists' and just start calling people who aren’t feminist 'sexist' — and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they’re bad." — Maisie Williams
14. "I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing." — Alicia Keys
In an essay for Lenny Letter, Keys explained how she lost the makeup and found herself.
15. "[Patriarchy] assumes that because I'm the first black woman to do this, I was the first with the capacity to do so — which is insinuating to the artists who have been doing the work for this moment." — Ava DuVernay
DuVernay made her feelings about being the first female director of color to helm a film with a budget over $100 million clear at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
16. "I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I'm the first Simone Biles." — Simone Biles
The four-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast made it clear to NBC that being you is the best thing you can be, and don't let anyone tell you any different.
17. "I'm so sick of people shaming women for being sensitive or vulnerable." — Winona Ryder
The Stranger Things actress explained how there's no right way to be a woman in New York Magazine.
18. "I cannot separate the art and the artist, just as I cannot separate my blackness and my continuing desire for more representation of the black experience in film from my womanhood, my feminism, my own history of sexual violence, my humanity." — Roxane Gay
In an essay on The New York Times, Gay talked about her struggle to empathize with Birth Of A Nation director Nate Parker.
19. “I started putting things on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, because I realize that I have a following, and most of the people who watch our show, I would say, are girls and I didn’t want them ever going through that. I just started doing it because I couldn't bear it anymore.” — Rowan Blanchard
20. "We stand together. We stick up for the vulnerable. We challenge bigots. We don't let hate speech become normalized. We hold the line." — J.K. Rowling
Rowling tweeted this after a fan asked how we move forward when the bullies win.
21. "I'm done compromising; even more so, I'm done with being compromised." — Mila Kunis
Kunis gave her take on sexism in the workplace for aPlus, making it clear she's not going to stand for it.
22. "I think about young girls today — I don't want my future daughter, or your daughter, or any person to be afraid that they will be punished if they speak out about being abused. Especially if their abuser is in a position of power." — Kesha
In a Facebook post thanking her fans, Kesha got real about why she spoke out against her alleged abuser. She also encouraged others to speak out letting them know, "You are not alone."
23. “I’ve always been a feminist, and what I love in my work is being able to explore a full-sided woman and not patronize her.” — Felicity Jones
Jones talked to Glamour UK about playing a strong female character like Jyn Erso in Rogue One.
24. “There are plenty of people who won’t tune in because a woman’s voice bothers their eardrums. Their ear canals can’t handle the sound of my shrill voice talking at them about a subject. I guess I just don’t really care about those people.” — Samantha Bee
In an interview with The Cut, Bee made it clear she's not changing for anyone.
25. "You just know, you have to be twice as good. In a way, until girls don’t have that feeling, we will not have done our jobs. That’s almost the point: to not feel the pressure to be extraordinary." — Kerry Washington
Washington made this point about the high standards women are held to in an issue of Entertainment Weekly.
26. “In terms of feminist issues, my mom never told me, like, ‘It’s gonna be tough. You’ve got boobs.’ But I saw that there was no difference between my mom and my dad in terms of what they were capable of because of their genders.” — Emilia Clarke
Clarke let out her inner Khaleesi with this quote about gender equality in the May issue of Glamour.
27. "He has no choice. I'll have no man telling me to shave my f*ckin' legs. Shave yours." — Adele
28. "As women we don’t know we’re at a deficit because we have vaginas. It wasn’t until they had a headline like, 'Even though she’s a woman!' And I was like, 'Oh. I didn’t know to be looking out for that. How did this wittle vagina manage that? I carried a whooole movie. How did I do it, getting a period once a month?'" — Jennifer Lawrence
In Glamour, Lawrence had some fun mocking those who couldn't believe little ol' her was able to carry such a big movie like The Hunger Games. How J. Law of her.
29. "People ask where Mindy's baby is when I'm on a dating story. He's off playing w/the children on male-driven comedies no one ever asks about." — Mindy Kaling
Kaling clapped back at those on Twitter who have questioned her Mindy Project character's parenting and makes a point about how we judge mothers.
30. "See everyone get the hell out of your way, see your power, your thump, your move, your shock, your quake. See all the marks on the world mean nothing compared to the marks you’re about to make." — Amber Tamblyn
As Amy Poehler's Smart Girls' resident poet, Tamblyn wrote an essay encouraging young girls to find their power and never be afraid to wield it.
31. "To me, power is making things happen without asking for permission." — Beyoncé
32. “Let’s change the culture. We must and we can change the culture. So that no abused woman or man, like the survivors you will see tonight, ever feel they have to ask themselves, ‘What did I do?’ They did nothing wrong.” — Joe Biden
The Vice President gave this speech in honor of sexual assault victims before introducing Lady Gaga at the 2016 Oscars to sing her song "Til It Happens To You" from the documentary The Hunting Ground.
33. “When [Trump] said that a wife who works is a very dangerous thing, he not only insulted me, he insulted my mother who worked as a special education teacher for 30 years, raised four children while being a wife.” — Eva Longoria
Longoria called out Donald Trump in her speech at the Democratic National Convention, while also calling out the idea that women can only be one thing at a time.
34. "The [university] experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities — or anyone who might be vulnerable — is right not a privilege." — Emma Watson
35. "I finally got my answer to that question: Who do you think you are? I am whoever I say I am." — America Ferrera
This year Ferrera completed a triathlon and wrote a piece for the New York Times about how it helped her silence her inner critic.
36. “You know how people are always like, ‘I wonder why there aren’t more female comedians?’ Maybe it’s because every time a woman opens her mouth to tell a joke, someone tries to put their d*ck in it. It’s not a lot of guys — #NotAllMen, #PleaseDon’tLeaveMeMeanMessages — it’s just a few guys getting away with harassment and assault over and over and over again.” — Samantha Bee
Bee made this statement on Full Frontal during a segment that looked at the sexual harassment women face at work.
37. "It’s a culture that talks down to you. It’s a person, maybe a boss or a boyfriend, that wishes you would think more 'rationally' and less 'emotionally,' that wholly dismisses women’s emotional intelligence as something we shouldn’t think with." — Amber Tamblyn
In an essay for Glamour, Tamblyn made it clear misogyny still exists and it cannot be ignored.
38. "They say I changed / What a pity if I stayed the same" — Solange
Solange delivers these wise words on "Don't Wish Me Well," off her album, A Seat At The Table, which "is meant to provoke healing & [a] journey of self-empowerment." This line shows the need for self-improvement and change, even when others don't understand.
39. "How can we not be equal? ...Like women are half of the people on earth, and, yes, they should have been equal since birth. That means all day, every day, equal pay, every way, OK?" — Lin-Manuel Miranda
In a Facebook video clip of Miranda freestyling while Emma Watson beatboxed, he dropped this gem of a line.
40. "I’d been told: ‘Don’t say you’re something if you don’t know what it is.’ So I was like: ‘Well, I’m not a feminist,’ because I didn’t really understand it and then I was like ‘Oh, sh*t.’ Obviously, I am a feminist." — Meghan Trainor
In a March 2016 interview with The Sun UK, Trainor reversed her infamous position on feminism, showing that education is a key part of reclaiming the label.
41. "I don't like to sit and mope. I like to get up and make changes. We have to bring more equality for women into the workforce, and in our communities, and in culture. We have to raise better men. We have to be the creators of positions of power that will then in turn create better opportunities for women. I'm going to make better choices in my career, in choosing roles I want women to follow." — Zoe Saldana
In an interview with Bustle, Saldana opened up about sexism in Hollywood and doing our part as audiences and entertainers to correct it.
42. "The progress we've made in the past 100 years, and yes, even in the past eight years, has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President, but also as a feminist." — President Barack Obama
"This is what a feminist looks like," the president wrote in his essay and it's true of this list too. Everyone here is an example of what feminism looked like in 2016 and are the same people who will keep fighting for equal rights in the future. Be sure to keep an ear out for what they say in 2017. I bet it'll be inspiring.
Image: TBS; Giphy (27)