35 Feminist Quotes About Marriage Everyone Needs To Read


We're fortunate to live in a time when the institution of marriage is being challenged and reshaped. How our culture thinks of marriage is rapidly changing — in many senses, it's finally catching up to what we've known about it for quite some time — and these feminist quotes about marriage are proof that it isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all matter.

There is definitely still an impulse to think that all marriages should be what our culture thinks of as a "typical" marriage: It occurs between a man and woman, very often in a church, and before any children arrive. With each generation, however, we're better understanding that not only is that not always the case, but moreover, that it doesn't have to be the case. The participants might be of any gender; not everyone sees marriage and religion as forever intertwined; you can have babies without being a "legal" couple first — or choose not to have babies at all. Many may also resist the idea of marriage all together, understanding that a piece of paper doesn't have to define you or your relationship in any way, shape, or form. And there's nothing wrong with any of that.

The value of these feminist words comes from the message they send: That there is no "right" and "wrong" way of being in love (or not). Marriage is not about filling a predetermined role that you were given. It's about commitment and happiness, and it's a personal choice we all make in our own time.

Audre Lorde

"You have to learn to love yourself before you can love me or accept my loving."

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Yoko Ono

"Marriage is a difficult project. When seven years have passed and all your body's cells have been replaced, you're meant to experience that seven-year itch."

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bell hooks

"If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency."

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in."

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Rainer Maria Rilke

"Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person ... Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distance exists, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole before an immense sky."

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Mindy Kaling

"Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work you like."

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Gloria Steinem

"I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career."

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Helen Gurley Brown

"All love isn't romantic; you can love many people."

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bell hooks

"Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment."

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"Don't settle for a relationship that won't let you be yourself."

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Helen Gurley Brown

"Rich or poor, you have a better chance of keeping him — and keeping him interested — if you belong to something or someone besides him."

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Gloria Steinem

"Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it."

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Shonda Rimes

"Don't let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are."

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Erin McKean

"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner ... Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'"

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Emma Goldman

"If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and minus."

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Helen Gurley Brown

"Even the lovely stay-homes, with incredible homes to stay in, closets full of Adolfos, and garages full of Mercedes-Benzes get left out in the garage with the Mercedes because they don't have an identity aside from being somebody's wife and mother."

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Audre Lorde

"Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever."

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Toni Morrison

"You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Don't. It's a bad word, 'belong.' Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn't be like that."


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"'You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?' Aunty Ifeka said. 'Your life belongs to you and you alone.'"

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Mark Ruffalo

"My own mother fought to make herself more than a possession; she lived her life as a mother who chose when she would have children, and a wife who could earn a living if she so chose. I want my daughters to enjoy that same choice."


Gloria Steinem

"Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person."

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Sheryl Sandberg

"The most important career choice you'll make is who you marry. I have an awesome husband, and we're 50/50."


Joss Whedon

"[My mother] really was an extraordinary, inspirational, tough, cool, sexy, funny woman. And that's the kind of woman I've always surrounded myself with, my friends and particularly my wife, who is not only smarter than and stronger than I am, but occasionally taller too. I think it also goes back to my father and my stepfather, because they prized wit and resolve in the women they were with above all things and they were among the rare men who understood that recognizing someone else's power doesn't diminish your own."

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Will Smith

"[My wife and I] let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it's like, how can you teach her that you're in control of her body? If I teach her that I'm in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she's going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world ... We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives."


Ian Somerhalder

"Men have an important role to play in sending out the message that real men do not hurt or abuse their partners."

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Prince Harry

"Real men treat women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve."

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John Green

"There's only a few things in this world that turn me into a Giant Squid of Anger. And one of them begins, 'My boyfriend thinks I'm too smart for him.' I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The Venn diagram of boys who don't like smart girls and boys you don't wanna date is a circle."

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Greg Behrendt

"Remember men are never too busy to get what they want."

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"The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing — and then marry him."

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Mary Ann Shaffer

"I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with."

Mae West

"Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution."

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Elizabeth Gilbert

"You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words."

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Jane Austen

"'Oh, Lizzy! Do anything rather than marry without affection.'"

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Betty Friedan

"Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question: 'Is this all?'"

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Sylvia Plath

"So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state."

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