60 Gloria Steinem Quotes About Activism and Feminism

Get a feel for the popular feminism leader through these Gloria Steinem quotes.

The call for equality has long been a valiant and worthwhile effort.

As with any effort, you need some people to be the leaders.

You need some people to go that extra mile and to be an example for others.

For Feminism, Gloria Steinem is one of those leaders.

Born in Toledo, OH in 1934, Gloria was a big force in the feminine movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a one-time columnist for New York Magazine and a co-founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria carved out a profession that allowed her to be a voice for feminine issues and she has used that platform.

Don’t forget to also check out these feminism quotes about empowerment and equality for women.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

If you enjoy this collection, check out our inspirational quotes category page.

Clever Gloria Steinem quotes

1. “Decisions are best made by the people affected by them.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Don’t be afraid to make your own decisions. The opinions and words of others can sometimes be helpful, but not always. Don’t let someone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do if you feel strongly something is the right decision.

2. “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: You don’t have to change who you are to fit into a certain job or relationship. Be your true and authentic self, and if it doesn’t work for other people then change your “shoe” and leave your foot the way it is!

3. “Self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Self-esteem impacts almost all the areas of our lives. It helps us feel secure and worthwhile. Self-esteem also helps us cultivate positive relationships. It leads to confidence, a willingness to accept feedback, and a desire to learn. Check out this article about how to build your self-esteem.

4. “Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Be your best self. Put in the work and effort to become who you want to be. Become someone that you would want to be in a relationship with, and the right person will come along.

5. “Also, one of the simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Meaningful change happens when people are willing to listen to others, speak up, and take action. Every voice matters if you are speaking up, especially if you join voices with others. You might not be in the position to make the changes, but you can be a catalyst. If you are in a position to make much changes, then listen to what people really want, and take action!

6 “If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn’t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Her logic here seems sound! However, it might be interesting to note the differences in communication between men and women. Hopefully, we can understand one another better and realize that we all behave like ourselves. We are all going to have differences, but we also have common ground, regardless of our genders.

7. “I’m also now immune to politicians who say, “I’ve traveled the length and breadth of this great land, and I know…” I’ve traveled more than any of them, and I don’t know.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Sure, traveling is a great way to expand your knowledge. It means you meet people who likely have a different culture, viewpoint, or beliefs than yours. However, there is much more required for actual learning: you must listen, experience things, and empathize with the people you meet.

8. “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Women are expected to work like they don’t have kids or a family, while also being expected to run a home like they do not work. The expectation itself seems ridiculous, but many women shoulder both responsibilities…and do it well. There does not seem to be the same expectation placed on men. When they are at work, they are at work. Couples need to communicate and listen to one another in order to avoid conflicts on this issue!

9. “Men should think twice before making widowhood women’s only path to power.” – Gloria Steinem

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Everyday Application: There are wise words in this quote! Aside, from the sound logic of her statement, there is a lesson for everyday life. Are you aware what it is you really want? Have you thought twice about the ramifications of your current actions? Be honest with yourself about why you want something, and how your method of getting it could play out!

Wise Gloria Steinem quotes

10. “A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Being held to such a high (nearly impossible) standard, or being “put on pedestal” can feel stifling. You are not free to make mistakes or mess up because people are watching and depending on you. The pedestal is also only so big, and staying on it can be hard. What happens if you fall? All of these things can make you feel trapped, just like being imprisoned. Remember even our heroes are people, too!

11. “Rich People plan for three generations. Poor people plan for Saturday night.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Rich people have a different attitude about money. They view it, spend it, and plan for it differently. If you truly want to improve your financial situation start thinking about money differently. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a great book to help you get started.

12. “If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Listening and being empathetic will improve communication immensely. Once we improve our communication with one another, we can work on improving our understanding. As we learn to understand one another we can change the world.

13. “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: We have been learning since infancy. The problem is that some of the lessons you learned might not work well now. Especially if you had a traumatic childhood. You learned lessons about survival, and now you need to learn how to thrive. We also start forming key beliefs when we are young, and those might not be how you want to be now. Don’t be scared to unlearn things!

14. “Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: You do not need the approval of anyone to live your life as you see fit (as long as you are obeying the law). People will respect you for being brave and taking chances, especially as they start to pay off. Respect is much more satisfying than approval.

15. “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Dreaming is a form of planning for the future. It motivates you by giving you a glimpse of what your future could like. Imagination can improve your problem solving skills and help grow your creativity. Don’t just stay in the comfort of your dreams though, you have to do the work to get there!

16. “So whatever you want to do, just do it… Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: The idea that we like look stupid, will fail, or make a fool out of ourselves holds far too many of us back from achieving our potential. Free yourself from the stifling weight of other people’s opinions. Who cares if they think you are foolish? Lot’s of people thought Walt Disney was foolish. People thought the Wright brothers were absolutely bonkers. What would the world look like if they hadn’t been foolish?

17. “We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.” – Gloria Steinem

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18. “Laughter is a rescue.” – Gloria Steinem

19. “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.” – Gloria Steinem

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20. “America is an enormous frosted cupcake in the middle of millions of starving people.” – Gloria Steinem

21. “Dying seems less sad than having lived too little.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Every single one of us is dying. It might not happen today or tomorrow (or it might). The truth is none of us know when our final moments will be. What is more sad is that most of us are not really living to our full potential. There are people who live to be 90 and don’t live as much as someone who dies in their 50s. Live your life fighting for your dreams, being your true self, and having fun.

Gloria Steinem quotes about feminism

22. “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” – Gloria Steinem

23. “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry.” – Gloria Steinem

24. “Women have two choices: Either she’s a feminist or a masochist.” – Gloria Steinem

25. “Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.” – Gloria Steinem

26. “No man can call himself liberal, or radical, or even a conservative advocate of fair play, if his work depends in any way on the unpaid or underpaid labor of women at home, or in the office.” – Gloria Steinem

27. “We are the women our parents warned us against, and we are proud.” – Gloria Steinem

28. “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke… she will need her sisterhood.” – Gloria Steinem
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29. “Racism and sexism are intertwined […] and cannot be uprooted separately.” – Gloria Steinem

30. “One day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the Earth!” – Gloria Steinem

31. “You should write about take no-shit women like me. Girls need to know they can break the rules.” – Gloria Steinem

32. “Don’t think about making women fit the world — think about making the world fit women.” – Gloria Steinem

33. “A lot of my generation are living out the un-lived lives of our mothers.” – Gloria Steinem

34. “Having someone who looks like us but thinks like them is worse than having no one at all.” – Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem quotes about writing

35. “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

36. “I do not like to write – I like to have written.” – Gloria Steinem

37. “Wherever I go, bookstores are still the closest thing to a town square.” – Gloria Steinem

38. “As Robin Morgan wrote so wisely, “Hate generalizes, love specifies”. That’s what makes going on the road so important. It definitely specifies.” – Gloria Steinem

39. “I began to understand with a terrible sureness that we teach what we need to learn and write what we need to know.” – Gloria Steinem

Enlightening Gloria Steinem quotes

40. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: The truth is often uncomfortable and makes us angry. However, it is important to face the truth. That knowledge will help you forge the best pathway forward. That initial anger can motivate you to test your previously assumed limitations. Don’t get stuck too long in that anger from learning the truth. Embrace it and use it instead!

41. “Empathy is the most radical of human emotions.” – Gloria Steinem

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42. “Each others’ lives are our best textbooks.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: There is a plethora of information that we can learn from simply observing the lives of others. People have come before us and faced similar challenges, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we can learn from their mistakes and successes. Want to be a writer? Then study the lives of writers. Want to succeed at your start-up business? Look at what has worked (and what hasn’t) for the entrepreneurs who came before you.

43. “Needing approval is a female cultural disease, and often a sign of doing the wrong thing.” – Gloria Steinem

Everyday Application: Women are taught that it matters what other people think. We learn early that being liked is important. Being pretty (something that is based on the subjective opinions of others) will get us noticed more. Stop feeding the madness. What someone else thinks of you is not your problem. You need love yourself for the unique person you are, not fit some societal mold of a likeable female.

44. “I worshipped dead men for their strength, forgetting I was strong.” – Gloria Steinem

45. “Sometimes I think the only real division into two is between people who divide everything into two and those who don’t.” – Gloria Steinem

46. “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” – Gloria Steinem

47. “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” – Gloria Steinem

48. “Perhaps our need to escape into media is a misplaced desire for the journey.” – Gloria Steinem

49. “We are so different, yet so much the same.” – Gloria Steinem

50. “The art of life is not controlling what happens to us, but using what happens to us.” – Gloria Steinem

More Gloria Steinem quotes

51. “The purpose of feminism is to free the uniqueness of the individual and to understand that inside each of us is a unique human being who is a combination of heredity and environment.” – Gloria Steinem

52. “At my age, in this still hierarchical time, people often ask me if I’m “passing the torch.” I explain that I’m keeping my torch, thank you very much – and I’m using it to light the torches of others.” – Gloria Steinem

53. “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” – Gloria Steinem

54. “You are the leader you’ve been waiting for.” – Gloria Steinem

55. “Clinging to the past is the problem. Embracing change is the answer.” – Gloria Steinem

56. “Whenever one person stands up and says, “Wait a minute, this is wrong,” it helps other people do the same.” – Gloria Steinem

57. “Imagining anything is the first step toward creating it. Believing in a true self is what allows a true self to be born.” – Gloria Steinem

58. “A good friendship is a conversation that never ends.” – Gloria Steinem

59. “The origins of violence against women by men are not biological. If that were the case, it would exist in every culture. And it doesn’t exist in every culture.” – Gloria Steinem

60. “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” – Gloria Steinem

What did you learn from these Gloria Steinem quotes?

I hope the quotes above have given you a small peek into Gloria’s life and the impact she made for feminism.

I think that one of the most inspirational things about people being leaders and using their platform is that it encourages others to do the same.

Are there things that you have wanted to stand up for or make a difference in?

When they write your story what will they say and how many people will you have impacted over your lifetime?

If you are like Gloria Steinem then you will impact and make a big difference for others.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Gloria Steinem quotes and sayings?

Do you have any other favorite quotes to add?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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