23 Empowering Quotes From Women In 2017 That Prove They Aren't Backing Down Anytime Soon
In 2017, Donald Trump took office, and his administration has already made dangerous decisions for women both in the United States and around the world. At the same time, 2017 also kicked off with the Women's March on Washington and similar marches worldwide, with millions taking to the streets to resist oppressive policies. This contrast speaks to 2017 as a whole: Politicians — both domestically and internationally — attempted to implement policies that would hurt women, and women rose again and again to challenge them. The empowering quotes from women in 2017 indicate that, despite being a difficult year for women, 2017 was also a year of resistance.
The Women's March was only the beginning. Later the same year, the Harvey Weinstein scandal led to a renewed #MeToo movement, and survivors of sexual violence around the world shared their stories (Weinstein has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sexual activities). In France, Kyrgyzstan, and Tunisia, officials launched new initiatives to target domestic violence and violence against women. In Pakistan, women took up mixed martial arts to challenge gender stereotypes and combat a culture of harassment. Honduras and El Salvador both passed legislation to outlaw marriages involving minors. Saudi Arabia announced that it would finally give women the right to drive.
But still, 2017 was a difficult year for women as Trump instituted restrictions on abortions overseas and targeted Planned Parenthood at home over and over again. Women — especially women of color and trans women — have nonetheless been leading the charge against various forms of oppression. As the following women have made clear, the policies attempting to restrict women's rights around the world will not go unchallenged.
1. California Rep. Maxine Waters, During A House Financial Services Committee Hearing
"I don't want to take my time over how great I am," Waters told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he both avoided her question and tried speaking over her. "Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time."
2. Gaylon B. Alcaraz, Activist And Candidate For Illinois' Cook County Board Of Commissioners, 4th District
"From all the women running and winning in political offices across the country, to women being vocal and standing up against sexual assault, to the organizing of various movements against the administration of this country, I am forever changed."
3. Sara Ahmed, Former Professor Of Feminist Studies At University Of London
“To be a feminist at work is or should be about how we challenge ordinary and everyday sexism, including academic sexism. This is not optional: it is what makes feminism feminist. A feminist project is to find ways in which women can exist in relation to women; how women can be in relation to each other. It is a project because we are not there yet.”
4. Tarana Burke, Founder Of The "Me Too" Movement
“[#MeToo] wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow. It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible. ... What’s happening now is powerful. And I salute it and the women who have disclosed but the power of using ‘me too’ has always been in the fact that it can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation ― but it was us talking to us.”
Burke released this statement to Ebony.com.
5. Activist And Author Angela Davis, During The Women's March On Washington
"This is a women's march and this women's march represents the promise of feminism against the pernicious powers of state violence. And inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.
"Yes, we salute the fight for 15. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color."
6. Writer And Trans Rights Activist Janet Mock, In An Essay For The New York Times
"When trans students are told that they cannot use public facilities, it doesn’t only block them from the toilet — it also blocks them from public life. It tells them with every sneer, every blocked door, that we do not want to see them, that they should go hide and that ultimately they do not belong. When schools become hostile environments, students cannot turn to them. Instead they are pushed out. And without an education, it makes it that much more difficult to find a job, support themselves and survive.
"That is the situation the Trump administration is creating. Despite the culture of fear, ignorance and intolerance that permeates our country right now, I am here to tell each and every student that you belong, and that nothing — absolutely nothing — is wrong with you."
7. Actress Yara Shahidi, At 2017 Black Girls Rock
“Our community of smart, powerful, insightful, fierce black girls is a community that exists without definition and, therefore, without restriction. Black girls rock.”
8. Actress Lupita Nyong'o, In An Op-Ed For The New York Times
"I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness. Though we may have endured powerlessness at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, by speaking up, speaking out and speaking together, we regain that power. And we hopefully ensure that this kind of rampant predatory behavior as an accepted feature of our industry dies here and now."
9. Master Of None Writer Lena Waithe, During An Emmys Acceptance Speech
“I love you all and last but certainly not least my LGBTQIA family. I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers — every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.
"And for everybody out there that showed so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago. We appreciate it more than you could ever know.”
10. Actress Rowan Blanchard, During The Women's March On Washington
“If women, if queer people, if people of color have survived this long in a world that refuses to represent them, that must amount to a force much greater than one man with nothing more to invest in but his ego.”
11. Chelsea Manning, In A November Tweet
"Visibility is not equality. We need each other. We are killed, erased, and smeared. We have a history of rebellion. Never forget our siblings who fight the hardest, and lost the most."
12. Serena Williams, In An Open Letter To Her Mom
"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don't belong in Women's sports -- that I belong in Men's -- because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).
"But mom, I'm not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman.
"I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!"
13. Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, After Being Held At U.S. Customs
"My human response is to cry because I was so sad and upset and disheartened — and just disappointed. At the same time, I'm one of those people who feels like I have to be strong for those people who may not be able to find that strength. I feel like I have to speak up for those people whose voices go unheard. It was a really hard two hours, but at the same time, I made it home. I try to remember to be positive and to try to leave all these situations, even if they may be very difficult, with love. I think that we will come out on top as women, as people of color, as Muslims, as transgender people, as people who are part of the disabled community — I think that we'll come out on top."
Muhammad made this statement during an interview with PopSugar.
14. Malala Yousafzai, In An Interview With UN News
"We have to believe in girls, we have to believe in our sisters, in our daughters and allow them to be who they want to be. As my father says, you do not have to do something, just do not clip their wings, just let them fly and let them achieve their dreams. So men have to come forward, they have to support women. It’s better for the whole economy, better for each and every one of us. It will help the economy to grow even faster, it will improve the standards of living of each and every one of us, it would improve health."
15. Actress Viola Davis, During Her Oscar Acceptance Speech
"People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist — and thank God I did — because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life."
16. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Maria
"I think that’s one of the good things to come out of this bad situation is that we will no longer be able to hide our political inequality, our social inequality, and our poverty behind palm trees and piña coladas. We’re gonna have to face it, and we’re gonna have to change it, because when you see injustice and you stare at it in the face of a child or the elderly, you need to respond if you’re going to call yourself a human."
17. Disability Rights Attorney Robyn Powell, In An Essay For Vox
"Perhaps naive, I — and many in the disability community — never expected we would be in this situation. Now that Trump has done the unimaginable by winning the election, we are left scrambling. What we anticipated to be four years of even greater access to services and rights is now quite the opposite.
"As we strategize on ways to combat changes to disability policy, we must work together with other marginalized communities. While the needs may be different at times, we must unite. Now, more than ever, we cannot give up!"
18. Workers World Party 2016 Presidential Candidate Monica Moorehead
"The #MeToo campaign has been liberating for so many women who have lived in silence and the deep-seated pain of being sexually assaulted but who now realize they are not alone. This campaign has brought widespread awareness of this war on women. There is no doubt about that.
"But how can any real change be made when the voices of millions of other women haven’t been heard because of who they are, due to being marginalized and disenfranchised under capitalism?
"They are migrant women who face rape and death daily by the U.S. Border Patrol when forced to flee their homeland due to imperialism. They are black and brown single mothers whose bosses threaten their low-wage jobs if they don’t succumb to sexual 'advances.' They are women prisoners, including trans prisoners, who are sexually assaulted daily by brutal guards, or homeless women who face similar fates in shelters. They are young women who are assaulted daily in high schools and on college campuses knowing they can’t get any justice because administrations and the police are complicit when these assaults take place."
Moorehead made this speech on Nov. 18 at the 2017 Workers World Party national conference.
19. Disability Rights Lawyer And Activist Stephanie Woodward
"For far too long, disability rights have been a white man’s game. And it’s time to take it forward and get a lot more people involved, including a lot of women’s voices and people of color and other marginalized communities [who] need to be a part of not only participating, but really planning the strategy of the disability rights movement.”
Woodward made this statement to Broadly.
20. Actress Danielle Brooks, On Diversity In The Fashion Industry
“When I first started, I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be so inclusive with my style and it was really hard. I haven’t been given an opportunity to wear these big-name designers, it has never been an option whether I had a stylist or didn’t. A lot of people won’t design for me, no matter how many SAG awards, Tony nominations, Grammy wins; it doesn’t matter.
"I remember my first SAG Awards I wore this dark blue dress by Christian Siriano and a girl recreated that entire look for her prom. I thought, Yes! It matters. I want women in huge numbers to feel motivated and feel like they are beautiful, but even if it’s just one [person], then my job is done.”
This excerpt comes from Brooks' interview with Vogue.
21. Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, In A Call For Mayor Ed Murray's Resignation
"Over a period of several months, the mayor’s response to the unfolding crisis has caused widespread public outcry as he has fundamentally failed to deal with the accusations of sexual abuse in a responsible manner required and deserved by the people of this city, as well as sexual assault survivors everywhere.
"In our community’s response during this difficult period we have seen enormous sympathy for survivors of sexual abuse, as well for those in our city struggling with homelessness and drug addiction. This public compassion demands a dramatic shift in the allocation of our city’s resources to make serious and concrete steps to alleviate these terrible and unnecessary social ills."
This excerpt comes from Sawant's guest editorial in The Stranger.
22. Actress Uzo Aduba
"I am an optimist, without being a Pollyanna. I see the world for what it is, but at the same time I choose to believe in its possibilities. I just always think everything’s going to work out. I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but it is. I’ve seen that time and time again in my life.
"I can still look in the rear-view mirror of my life and see myself waiting tables. I can remember having my mom come to visit me and having no food in my fridge. I remember it so wholeheartedly. I’m not so far removed from that experience that I can’t feel it still in my skin."
Aduba made these comments during an interview with The Guardian.
23. DACA Recipient Ms. Guzman, In An Essay For Fortune
"Many focus on the 800,000 DACA recipients who are often admired for their resilience, ignoring the fact that we stand on the shoulders of our parents. We are called Dreamers, but our parents dreamed long before we did of a better future. There are 11 million undocumented people who deserve to be acknowledged as people. Comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship needs to be passed, without Dreamers being used as pawns for either party for their temporary political convenience. Nothing has been handed to us nor have we taken anything. We have earned what we have. We want to be understood, and demand what we deserve."
2017 was a year full of challenges for women in so many different ways, but as the 23 quotes above illustrate, women did not back down — and it's clear that they're ready to keep fighting for intersectional feminist causes going into 2018.