Category Archives: Words and Women

Words and Women: Adrienne Rich

The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.

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Adrienne Rich, image from: coldfrontmag

Adrienne Rich was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse” (Flood).

Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you…it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: “I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions–predigested books and ideas…marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short…and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be “different”…The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”

Read on

Flood, Alison. “Adrienne Rich, Award-winning poet and essayist, dies at 82.” The Guardian. 29th March 2012.


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Words and Women: Louisa May Alcott

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image from: womenshistory

The emerging woman … will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied … strength and beauty must go together.

― Louisa May Alcott, from her 1869 novel An Old-Fashioned Girl. Alcott is best-known for her novel Little Women, which was published in 1868. Some of Alcott’s works were published under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. If she were still alive, today would be her 184th birthday.


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Words and Women: Ursula K. Le Guin

“You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

Ursula Le Guin
image from: GooglePlay

“You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, from her 1974 novel The Dispossessed

Download The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and read for free


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Words and Women: Gloria Steinem

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image from: mogul

What would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties. Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts. Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free.

– Gloria Steinem, extracted from her 1978 essay If Men Could Menstruate, first published Ms. magazine.

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image from: gloriasteinem

“Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

– Gloria Steinem, in 1996 HBO film If These Walls Could Talk 

Read Steinem’s 1978 essay in full here: If Men Could Menstruate


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Words and Women: Jane Austen

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image: Rice Portrait of Jane Austen

“I hate to hear you talking as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth waters all our days.”

― British author Jane Austen; spoken by Mrs Croft in Austen’s sixth novel Persuasion, published posthumously in 1818. 


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Words and Women: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; from her essay We Should All Be Feminists


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.