18 Literary Quotes Every Feminist Needs To Read Right Now

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Much of the language and policy coming out of Washington isn’t exactly female-friendly at the moment, (although, when has it typically been before?) leaving feminists everywhere angry, active, and on high-alert. If you attended one of the many women’s marches held around the country (and world) last month, then you no doubt know the power of collective action, community, raising your voice, and finding the exact right words to draw on your protest poster. But at some point, even the most avid of feminists needs to step out of the street and take a moment to attend to everything else going on her in busy, beautiful life: you know, those million tiny things you do that make you the badass women you are. After all, I’m betting even Gloria Steinem has to run a load of laundry every once in a while.

But just because you can’t march in the street all the time doesn’t mean that the feminist momentum you’ve been building needs to fade. It’s crucial to stay motivated, whether you’re at a protest or just watching news coverage of one on television (while you finally catch up on some other essential thing that you do.) These feminist book quotes will help keep you passionate, empowered, and inspired.

Here are 18 literary quotes that every feminist needs to read right now.

1“If one man can destroy everything, why can't one girl change it?”

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― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

2“...the consequences of militancy do not disappear when the need for militancy is over. Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.”

― Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch

3“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”

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― Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist: Essays

4“Like so many successful guerrillas in the war between the sexes, she seemed to have been equipped early with an immutable sense of who she was and a fairly clear understanding that she would be required to prove it.”

― Joan Didion, The White Album

5“the only thing / required / to be / a woman / is to / identify as one. / - period, end of story.”

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― Amanda Lovelace, The Princess Saves Herself in this One

6“[The] idea at play here is that of “morality.” When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens.”

― Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women

7“We lived loud and hard against a neighborhood built to contain us. We moved like the earth pushing its way through cement sidewalks.”

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― Gabby Rivera, Juliet Takes a Breath

8“We knew that there could be no real sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest of white supremacy, if feminist movements were not fundamentally anti-racist.”

― bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

9“I myself cried when I got angry, then became unable to explain why I was angry in the first place. Later I would discover this was endemic among female human beings. Anger is supposed to be "unfeminine" so we suppress it — until it overflows. I could see that not speaking up made my mother feel worse. This was my first hint of the truism that depression is anger turned inward; thus women are twice as likely to be depressed. My mother paid a high price for caring so much, yet being able to do so little about it. In this way, she led me toward an activist place where she herself could never go.”

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― Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

10"I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent's tongue — my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.”

― Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/LaFrontera: The New Mestiza

11“You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

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― Maya Angelou, Still I Rise

12“You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly inquiring: ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”

― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

13“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”

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― Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals

14“Now, at last, I know why I was brought here and what I have to do.”

― Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

15“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”

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― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

16“His name was privilege, but hers was possibility. His was the same old story, but hers was a new one about the possibility of changing a story that remains unfinished, that includes all of us, that matters so much, that we will watch but also make and tell in the weeks, months, years, decades to come.”

― Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me

17“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

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― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

18“I belong deeply to myself.”

― Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth