“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know that quote, which feminist icon Gloria Steinem popularized as part of the women’s lib movement in the 1970s. What you might not have heard are Steinem’s more recent, poignant statements about unity across gender lines, how gender discrimination intersects with other forms of discrimination, and the crucial role trans women and women of color play in the continuing struggle for equality. Trust us: It’s good stuff.
So, in honor of Steinem's 81st birthday, we give you our favorite five new quotes from Gloria Steinem!
But first, a little background: Steinem rose to prominence in the late 1960s as an anti-war and feminist activist, and she co-founded Ms. magazine in the ’70s. Ever since, Steinem has been calling for equality — including the idea that reproductive freedom is as basic a right as free speech.
Steinem is a legend who has, over the decades, remained true to her vision of making the world a better place for women. Her voice is at once optimistic and subversive. Still, at 81, she’s sharing the message that men and women should not be divided into two polarized boxes. And now, she’s making that message of unity even more inclusive.
Black Women Invented Feminism
"I thought [black women] invented the feminist movement…. I've learned feminism disproportionately from black women … I realize that things being what they are, the white middle-class part of the movement got reported more. But if you look at the numbers and the very first poll of women thinking about, responding on women’s issues, African American women were twice as likely to support feminism and feminist issues as white women."
Black Enterprise, 3/19/15
We Must Fight for Transgender Rights
“I believe that transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their health care decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make. And what I wrote decades ago does not reflect what we know today as we move away from only the binary boxes of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine,’ and begin to live along the full human continuum of identity and expression.”
The Advocate, 10/2/13
Feminism Is All About Dismantling the Gender Binary
"I would say that each of us has only one thing to gain from the feminist movement: Our whole humanity. Because gender has wrongly told us that some things are masculine and some things are feminine... which is bullshit."
Huffington Post, 3/6/15
Advanced Societies Are Tolerant Societies
"Anthropologists have known that the cultures with the most polarized gender roles have been the most violent, and flexible cultures with the most interchangeable roles have been the most peaceful."
Baltimore City Paper, 2/26/15
The Fights for Reproductive Freedom & LGBT Rights Are Linked
“We have to understand that the movements are all connected… Our enemies are the same.”
Express News, 10/22/14
Those are our top five favorite finds from Steinem. But we just had to add in this little nugget to pat ourselves on the back:
Planned Parenthood Rocks
“I believe that the work you are doing in taking back control of our individual bodies, of declaring reproductive freedom to be a fundamental human right, is at least as important as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”
The City Sentinel, 10/1/13