Timeless quotes on women
The following is a list of quotes regarding the nature of women and the relations between the sexes from various eminent figures throughout history: political figures, sages, philosophers, scientists, artists, and writers.
1,000–600 BC: The Bible (Old Testament)[edit | edit source]
While I was still searching but not finding—I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,and her speech is smoother than oil;but in the end she is bitter as gall,sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death;her steps lead straight to the grave.
—Proverbs 5:3-5 
For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife preys on your very life.
—Proverbs 6:21 
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
—Proverbs 21:19 
Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.
—Isaiah 3:12 
In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, “We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes;only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!
—Isaiah 4:1 
570–510 BC: Pythagoras of Samos[edit | edit source]
There is a good principle which created order, light, and man, and an evil principle which created chaos, darkness, and woman.
800-700 BC: The Odyssey[edit | edit source]
"So true is it that there is nothing more dread or more shameless than a woman who puts into her heart such deeds [...]"
—Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Book XI.
"And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart: in secret and not openly do thou bring thy ship to the shore of thy dear native land; for no longer is there faith in women."
—Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Book XI.
fl. 6th century BC (disputed): Lao Tzu[edit | edit source]
"The female always uses stillness to conquer the male. By using stillness, she becomes lower-than (inferior)."
—The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 61
551–479 BC: Confucius[edit | edit source]
"Women and people of low birth are very hard to deal with. If you are friendly with them, they get out of hand, and if you keep your distance, they resent it."
fl. 5th century BC: Bhartṛhari[edit | edit source]
A firm bosom; sparkling eyes; a small mouth [...] are characteristics of a woman which are always praised. But when we neglect the surface we find that the internal characteristics corresponding to these are hardness of heart, shifty eyes, a deceitful face, insecurity and cunning. When we bear in mind both the superficial and inward characteristics of a woman, we must declare that the one who should possess them can be dear only to the beasts of the field.
—The Vairagya Sataka 
A woman talks to one man, looks at a second, and thinks of a third.
—The Sringa Sataka
Woman is the chain by which man is attached to the chariot of folly. Ibid
Circa 5th century BC: Acharanga Sutra[edit | edit source]
"The world is overpowered by women (it has become their slave). O man! They (the slaves of women) say—"woman is the source of pleasure." This concept is the cause of grief and is instrumental in his (man's) passage through fondness, death, hell and rebirth as animals (reincarnation)."
—Acharanga Sutra, Book I
470–399 BC: Socrates[edit | edit source]
"By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you will be happy. If you get a bad one, you will be a philosopher."
446–386 BC: Aristophanes[edit | edit source]
"[Choir of] Men: O botheration take you all! How you (women) cajole and flatter. A hell it is to live with you; to live without, a hell"
—Aristophanes, Lysistrata, Jack Lindsay translation, 1926 
[Choir of] Men: There is no beast, no rush of fire, like woman so untamed. She calmly goes her way where even panthers would be shamed.
—Aristophanes, Lysistrata, Jack Lindsay translation, 1926 
Woman is adept at getting money for herself and will not easily let herself be deceived; she understands deceit too well herself.
—Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae, line 236-238
There is but one thing in the world worse than a shameless woman, and that's another woman.
423–348 BC: Plato[edit | edit source]
Women are accustomed to creep into dark places, and when dragged out into the light they will exert their utmost powers of resistance ... therefore, as I said before, in most places they will not endure to have the truth spoken without raising a tremendous outcry.
—Plato, Laws VI
"Is there any natural activity in which men are not better in all these respects than women? We need not waste time over weaving and various cooking operations, at which women are thought to be experts, and get badly laughed at if a man does them better.' 'It's quite true', he replied, 'that in general the one sex is much better at everything than the other. A good many women, it is true, are better than a good many men at a good many things. But the general rule is as you stated it."
—The Republic, Book V
c. 408-334 BC: Antiphanes[edit | edit source]
One single thing I trust a woman saying. To other statements no attention paying : "When I am dead, I won't return to grieve you." Till death takes place, in naught else I'll believe you.
What ! When you court concealment, will you tell the matter to a woman? Just as well tell all the criers in the public squares! Tis hard to say which of them louder blares.
384–322 BC: Aristotle[edit | edit source]
"Woman may be said to be an inferior man."
"Females are weaker and colder in nature, and we must look upon the female character as being a sort of natural deficiency."
—On the Generation of Animals
"Again, as between the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject."
—Politics, Book I
"Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them; but the temperance of a man and of a woman, of the courage and justice of a man and of a woman, are not, as Socrates maintained, the same; the courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeying.
—Politics, Book I
"Again, the freedom in regard to women (referring to the customs of the Spartans) is detrimental both in regard to the purpose of the constitution and in regard to the happiness of the state. For just as man and wife are part of a household, it is clear that the state also is divided nearly in half into its male and female population, so that in all constitutions in which the position of the women is badly regulated one half of the state must be deemed to have been neglected in framing the law."
—Politics, Book II
"Hence this characteristic existed among the Spartans, and in the time of their empire many things were controlled by the women; what difference does it make whether women rule, or the rulers are ruled by women? The result is the same."
—Politics, Book II
Circa 300 BC-400 AD: The Jataka Tales[edit | edit source]
"Cursed be the dart of love that works men pain! Cursed be the land where women rule supreme! And cursed the fool that bows to woman’s sway!"
—Jataka 13 
"In lust unbridled, like devouring fire,
Are women,—frantic in their rage. The sex renouncing, fain would I retire
To find peace in a hermitage."
—Jataka 61 
"Such, we learn, is the wickedness of women. What crime will they not commit; and then, to deceive their husbands, what oaths will they not take--aye, in the light of day--that they did it not!
So false-hearted are they! Therefore has it been said:—A sex composed of wickedness and guile, Unknowable; uncertain as the path
Of fishes in the water,—womankind
Hold truth for falsehood, falsehood for the truth!
As greedily as cows seek pastures new,
Women, unsated, yearn for mate on mate.
As sand unstable, cruel as the snake,
Women know all things; naught from them is hid!
—Jataka 62 
"For in days to come, women shall lust after men and strong drink and finery and gadding abroad and after the joys of this world. In their wickedness and profligacy these women shall drink strong drink with their paramours; they shall flaunt in garlands and perfumes and unguents; and heedless of even the most pressing of their household duties, they shall keep watching for their paramours, even at crevices high up in the outer wall; aye, they shall pound up the very seed-corn that should be sown on the morrow so as to provide good cheer;--in all these ways shall they plunder the store won by the hard work of their husbands in field and byre, devouring the poor men’s substance even as the hungry jackal under the bench ate up the rope of the rope-maker as he wove it.
"Full of seductive wiles, deceitful all, They tempt the most pure-hearted to his fall.
Down--down they sink: a man should flee afar from women, when he knows what kind they are. Whomso they serve, for gold or for desire,
They burn him up like fuel in the fire."
—Jataka 263 
254-184 BC: Titus Maccius Plautus[edit | edit source]
There's no such thing as picking out the best woman: it's only a question of comparative badness. (Nam optuma nulla potest eligi; Alia alia pejor est.)
234–149 BC: Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder)[edit | edit source]
Give the reins to a headstrong nature, to a creature that has not been tamed, and then hope that they will themselves set bounds to their licence if you do not do it yourselves. This is the smallest of those restrictions which have been imposed upon women by ancestral custom or by laws, and which they submit to with such impatience. What they really want is unrestricted freedom, or to speak the truth, licence, and if they win on this occasion what is there that they will not attempt?
—Livy, The Early History of Rome 
Call to mind all the regulations respecting women by which our ancestors curbed their licence and made them obedient to their husbands, and yet in spite of all those restrictions you can scarcely hold them in ... From the moment that they become your fellows (equals) they will become your masters.
—Livy, The Early History of Rome 
c. 200 BC: Bhagavad Gita[edit | edit source]
“When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.”
c. 85–43 BC: Publilius Syrus[edit | edit source]
Woman is man's superior in cunning.
—Sententiae (The Moral Sayings of Pubilius Syrus)
A woman's solitary thoughts are her worst ones. ibid
Woman becomes good, when she is openly wicked. ibid
Woman loves or hates : she knows no middle course. ibid
It is easy for women to shed tears without salt. ibid
You may despair of quiet; if you manage the affairs of women. ibid
43 BC–18 AD: Ovid[edit | edit source]
"A chaste woman is one who has not been propositioned."
"[A woman] is constant only in her inconstancy."
"Thus neither with thee [woman] nor without thee, can I live."
"Many women long for what eludes them, and like not what is offered them."
"A virgin princess shared his room, but what escaped her, revealed itself at last as male: he raped her. So yes, it’s true that she was conquered by brute force, but that’s what she’d been wishing for, of course." (Ovid, The Art of Love)
"“Girls praise a poem, but go for expensive presents. Any illiterate oaf can catch their eye provided he’s rich. Today is truly the Golden Age: gold buys honor, gold procures love.”
Circa 80 AD: The Bible (New Testament)[edit | edit source]
"But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."
—1 Corinthians 11:3 
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
—1 Timothy 2:11
"I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
—1 Timothy 2:12 
"And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
—1 Timothy 2:14 
"I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes".
—1 Timothy 2:9 
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good."
—Titus 2:3 
fl. 1st-2nd Century AD: Juvenal[edit | edit source]
"For when danger comes in a right and honourable way, a woman's heart grows chill with fear; she cannot stand upon her trembling feet: but if she be doing a bold, bad thing, her courage fails not. For a husband to order his wife on board ship is cruelty: the bilge-water then sickens her, the heavens go round and round. But if she is running away with a lover, she feels no qualms: then she vomits over her husband; now she messes with the sailors, she roams about the deck, and delights in hauling at the hard ropes."
"Her dear Sergius had already begun to shave; a wounded arm gave promise of a discharge, and there were sundry deformities in his face: a scar caused by the helmet, a huge wen upon his nose, a nasty humour always trickling from his eye. But then he was a gladiator! It is this that transforms these fellows into Hyacinths! it was this that she preferred to children and to country, to sister and to husband. What these women love is the sword: had this same Sergius received his discharge, he would have been no better than a Veiento (likely referring a senator that the unfaithful woman alluded to in this passage cuckolded)."
"Do you really expect the mother to teach her daughter honest ways—ways different from her own? Nay, the vile old woman finds a profit in bringing up her daughter to be vile."
"I hear all this time the advice of my old friends—keep your women at home, and put them under lock and key. Yes, but who will watch the warders? Wives are crafty and will begin with them. High or low their passions are all the same."
155–240: Tertullian[edit | edit source]
"Woman is a temple built upon a sewer."
—De cultu feminarum (The Ornaments of Women)
"You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die ... Woman, you are the gateway to hell."
—De cultu feminarum (The Ornaments of Women)
349–407: St John Chrysostom[edit | edit source]
"Amongst all the savage beasts none is found so harmful as woman."
"It does not profit a man to marry. For what is a woman but an enemy of friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a domestic danger, delectable mischief, a fault in nature, painted with beautiful colors?"
"God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matter to the woman."
—Homily 9 on First Timothy 
"..the [female] sex is weak and fickle."
—The Kind of Women who ought to be taken as Wives 
354–440: St Augustine of Hippo[edit | edit source]
"I don’t see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation. If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?"
—De Genesi ad literam (The Literal Meaning of Genesis) 9.5.9 
" ... woman was given to man, woman who was of small intelligence and who perhaps still lives more in accordance with the promptings of the inferior flesh than by superior reason. Is this why the apostle Paul does not attribute the image of God to her?"
—De Genesi ad literam Book 11.42
"Watch out that she does not twist and turn you for the worse. What difference does it make whether it is in a wife or in a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman."
—Letter to Laetus (Letter 243.10)
570–632: Muhammad[edit | edit source]
"I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” It was said, “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1052).
"When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler." (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 7099).
1016–1041: Naropa[edit | edit source]
"Countless are woman's defects. My elephantine mind has fallen. Into the poisonous swamp of guile. So I must renounce the world."
1225–1274: Thomas Aquinas[edit | edit source]
"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power."
—Summa Theologica, Vol. I, Q. 92, Art. 1, Reply to Objection 1. 
"So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates.
—Summa Theologica, Volume 1, Q. 92, Art. 1, Reply to Objection 2.
c. 1340s-1400: Geoffrey Chaucer[edit | edit source]
"And now of my fifth husband will I tell.
God grant his soul may never get to Hell!
And yet he was to me most brutal, too;
My ribs yet feel as they were black and blue,
And ever shall, until my dying day.
But in our bed he was so fresh and gay,
And therewithal he could so well impose,
What time he wanted use of my belle chose,
That though he'd beaten me on every bone,
He could re-win my love, and that full soon.
I guess I loved him best of all, for he
Gave of his love most sparingly to me.
—Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 509-520
"We women have, if I am not to lie,
In this love matter, a quaint fantasy;
Look out a thing we may not lightly have,
And after that we'll cry all day and crave.
Forbid a thing, and that thing covet we;
Press hard upon us, then we turn and flee.
Sparingly offer we our goods, when fair;
Great crowds at market for dearer ware,
And what's too common brings but little price;
All this knows every woman who is wise.
—Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 521-530
"My liege lady, generally," said he,
"Women desire to have the sovereignty
As well upon their husband as their love,
And to have mastery their man above;
This thing you most desire, though me you kill
Do as you please, I am here at your will."
In all the court there was no wife or maid
Or widow that denied the thing he said ....
—Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale, lines 1043-1050
c. 1430-1505: Heinrich Kramer[edit | edit source]
"(Woman) is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives."
—Malleus Malificarum (The Hammer of the Witches)
"To this point is Ecclesiasticus xxxvii: Neither consult with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous. Meaning that it is useless to consult with her, since there is always jealousy, that is, envy, in a wicked woman. And if women behave thus to each other, how much more will they do so to men.
"And now let us examine the carnal desires of the body itself, whence has arise unconscionable harm to human life. Justly we may say with Cato of Utica: If the world could be rid of women, we should not be without God in our intercourse. For truly, without the wickedness of women, to say nothing of witchcraft, the world would still remain proof against innumerable dangers. Hear what Valerius said to Rufinus: You do not know that woman is the Chimaera, but it is good that you should know it; for that monster was of three forms; its face was that of a radiant and noble lion, it had the filthy belly of a goat, and it was armed with the virulent tail of a viper. And he means that a woman is beautiful to look upon, contaminating to the touch, and deadly to keep."
"If we inquire, we find that nearly all the kingdoms of the world have been overthrown by women. Troy, which was a prosperous kingdom, was, for the rape of one woman, Helen, destroyed, and many thousands of Greeks slain. The kingdom of the Jews suffered much misfortune and destruction through the accursed Jezebel, and her daughter Athaliah, queen of Judah, who caused her son's sons to be killed, that on their death she might reign herself; yet each of them was slain. The kingdom of the Romans endured much evil through Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, that worst of women. And so with others. Therefore it is no wonder if the world now suffers through the malice of women.
"Let us consider also her gait, posture, and habit, in which is vanity of vanities. There is no man in the world who studies so hard to please the good God as even an ordinary woman studies by her vanities to please men."
1469-1527: Niccolò Machiavelli[edit | edit source]
"For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her. "
"It makes him (the ideal ruler) hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways."
"And in the first place we see how women have been the occasion of many divisions and calamities in States, and have wrought great harm to rulers; as when, according to our historian, the violence done to Lucretia drove the Tarquins from their kingdom, and that done to Virginia broke the power of the decemvirs. And among the chief causes which Aristotle assigns for the downfall of tyrants are the wrongs done by them to their subjects in respect of their women, whether by adultery, rape, or other like injury to their honour."
—Discourses on Livy
1483–1546: Martin Luther[edit | edit source]
"The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes."
"No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise."
"What defects women have, we must check them for in private, gently by word of mouth, for woman is a frail vessel.
"“For woman seems to be a creature somewhat different from man, in that she has dissimilar members, a varied form and a mind weaker than man. Although Eve was a most excellent and beautiful creature [...] yet she was a woman. For as the sun is more glorious than the moon, though the moon is a most glorious body, so woman, though she was a most beautiful work of God, yet she did not equal the glory of the male creature.”
—Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 2, Part V, 27b. 
1509–1564: John Calvin[edit | edit source]
"But woman can never be the best governor, by reason that she being spoiled of the spirit, can never attain to that degree, to be called or judged a good governor. Because in the nature of all woman, lurketh such vices, as in good governors are not tolerable."
"Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude."
On the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to women rather than to men: "I consider this was done by way of reproach, because they [the men] had been so tardy and sluggish to believe. And indeed, they deserve not only to have women for their teachers, but even oxen and asses ... Yet it pleased the Lord, by means of those weak and contemptible vessels, to give display of his power."
—Commentary on the Gospel of John
1564-1616: William Shakespeare[edit | edit source]
"Frailty, the name is WOMAN!
—Hamlet Act I, sc. 2.
"Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am asham'd that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey."
—The Taming of the Shrew Act V, Sc. 2. 
"The wiles and guiles that women work,
Dissembled with an outward show,
The tricks and toys that in them lurk,
The cock that treads them shall not know.
Have you not heard it said full oft,
A woman's nay doth stand for nought?"
— The Passionate Pigrim, 340. 
"And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man’s cheeks! …
No, I’ll not weep.
I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I’ll weep."
"O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Out of my sight!"
— (Othello, 4.1.2685) 
1588-1679: Thomas Hobbes[edit | edit source]
"Forme (looks) is Power; because being a promise of Good, it recommendeth men to the favour of women and strangers."
"But the question lyeth now in the state of meer Nature; where there are supposed no lawes of Matrimony; no lawes for the education of children; but the Law of Nature, and the naturall inclination of the Sexes, one to another, and to their children. If there be no contract, the dominion is in the mother. For in the condition of Meer Nature, where there are no matrimoniall lawes, it cannot be known who is the father, unlesse it be declared by the mother: and therefore the right of dominion over the child dependeth on her will, and is consequently hers.
"By this it appears, that a great Family if it be not part of some Commonwealth, is of it self, as to the Rights of Soveraignty, a little Monarchy; whether that Family consist of a man and his children; or of a man and his servants; or of a man, and his children, and servants together: wherein the Father of Master is the Soveraign.
1608-1674: John Milton[edit | edit source]
"Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib
Crooked by nature, bent, as now appears,
More to the part sinister, from me drawn;
Well if thrown out, as supernumerary
To my just number found. Oh, why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven
With Spirits masculine, create at last
This novelty on earth, this fair defect
Of nature, and not fill the world at once
With men, as angels, without feminine;
Or find some other way to generate
Mankind? This mischief had not been befallen,
And more that shall befall;innumerable
Disturbances on earth through female snares."
—Paradise Lost, Chapter X: 864-878.
"But still I see the tenor of Man's woe
Holds on the same, from Woman to begin.
From Man's effeminate slackness it begins,
Said the angel, who should better hold his place
By wisdom, and superior gifts received."
—Paradise Lost, Chapter XI: 632-636.
1613–1680: François de La Rochefoucauld[edit | edit source]
"The intellect of the generality of women serves more to fortify their folly than their reason."
"All women are flirts, but some are restrained by shyness, and others by sense"
1652-1685: Thomas Otway[edit | edit source]
"Be a true woman, rail, protest my wrongs. Resolve to hate him, and yet love him still ..."
"Woman the fountain of all humane frailty ! What mighty ills have not been done by woman! Who was 't betray'd the Capitol? A woman.
Who lost Mark Anthony the world ? A woman.
Who was the cause of a long ten years war, And laid at last Old-Troy in ashes ? Woman.
Destructive, damnable, deceitful, woman..."
""Who trusts his heart with woman 's surely lost: You were made fair on purpose to undo us. Whilst greedily we snatch th' alluring bait, And ne're distrust the poyson that it hides ...
1688-1744: Alexander Pope[edit | edit source]
"NOTHING so true as what you once let fall, Most women have no characters at all."
—Moral Essays: EPISTLE II, of The Characters of Women
"See sin in state, majestically drunk;
Proud as a peeress, prouder as a punk;
Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside,
A teeming mistress, but a barren bride."
"Who breaks with her (woman), provokes revenge from hell,
But he's a bolder man who dares be well.
Her ev'ry turn with violence pursu'd,
Nor more a storm her hate than gratitude ... Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
Oblige her, and she'll hate you while you live ..."
"Men, some to bus'ness, some to pleasure take; But ev'ry woman is at heart a rake ..."
1724–1804: Immanuel Kant[edit | edit source]
"Women are more inclined to be miserly than men. This is in keeping with the nature of woman, for the women have to be more sparing since they are spending money which they do not earn themselves."
"Woman has a superior feeling for the beautiful, so far as it pertains to herself".
1744: Man Superior to Woman by 'A Gentleman'[edit | edit source]
"Hitherto, the women, conscious of their own inabilities, have cheerfully acknowledged the authority which wisdom gives to men over them, content with the soft dominion which love secures to them over the men ... But the case must necessarily alter from the minute that sex forgets its allegiance to us. Once the women presume to call in question the great duty of vassalage to us, it must be time to withdraw our hearts from their power. They can no longer be safe in the custody of such women as refuse to submit their heads to our authority."
—Man Superior to Woman;or, The Natural Right of the Men to Sovereign Authority Over the Women, Asserted and Defended.
"... unluckily for them (women), all the greatest sages of antiquity, as well as the wisest legislators of all ages, have been of the same mind. The greatest poets, the most eminent divines, the brightest orators, the ablest historians, the most skillful physicians, and the profoundest philosophers, in a word, all who have been famous for excelling in learning, wisdom, and arts, have condemned the women to perpetual subjection, and less noble, less perfect, and consequently inferior to men.... "
"What else do we find in women but the bane of friendship, an inevitable pain, a native temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic snare, a flattering mischief, the very essence of evil, under the semblance of good?"
"The man, who weds a beautiful woman, measures a mark for every libertine's lechery. But he who marries a plain one, marries lechery itself. The former will find it an arduous task to preserve inviolated his private property in the object of public lust. And how wretched must be the fate of the latter, to be confined to the society of one, whom none else would condescend to couple with! However upon the whole there may be, perhaps, much less misery annexed to the possession of a homely wife, than to the difficulty of keeping a handsome one chaste. But still it is plain there is misery in both.
"Man, created by Nature to rule, was endowed with a soul equal to the task. His body is strong, his mind vigorous, and his heart resolute; his understanding is fitted for the most sublime speculations, and his person for the most hardy and important exercises ... If there are a few degenerate creatures, who answer not this character, they are such only as by conversing with womankind, putting on their foibles, and affecting to be like them, degrade themselves of manhood, commence intellectual eunuchs, and, though they are, deserve no more to be reputed of the same sex with us.
"Let women then give up their claim to an equality with the men, and be content with the humble station which Nature has allotted them. And since neither their capacity for head nor their dispositions of heart can lift them to emulate, let them apply their little talents at least to imitate us: That pleased with the pretty mimics of ourselves, we may venture to place them in our bosoms without fear of cherishing a viper there."
1770-1831: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel[edit | edit source]
"Women are capable of education, but they are not made for activities which demand a universal faculty such as the more advanced sciences, philosophy, and certain forms of artistic production. Women may have happy ideas, taste, and elegance, but they cannot attain to the ideal.
—Elements of the Philosophy of Right
"The difference between men and women is like that between animals and plants. Men correspond to animals, while women correspond to plants because their development is more placid and the principle that underlies it is the rather vague unity of feeling. When women hold the helm of government, the state is at once in jeopardy, because women regulate their actions not by the demands of universality but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions.
—Elements of the Philosophy of Right
"While singular individuality is thus mingled into the woman’s relationship, her ethical life is not pure. However, insofar as she is ethical, singular individuality is a matter of indifference, and the wife dispenses with the moment of cognizing herself as this self in an other."
—Phenomenology of Spirit
1769–1821: Napoleon Bonaparte[edit | edit source]
"We treat women too well, and in this way have spoiled everything. We have done every wrong by raising them to our level. Truly the Oriental nations have more mind and sense than we in declaring the wife to be the actual property of the husband. In fact nature has made woman our slave ... Woman is given to man that she may bear children ... consequently she is his property."
"Women ... are mere machines to make children".
"Women ... are capable of committing the worst atrocities. . If war broke out between men and women, it would be quite a different business from the struggles we have seen between nobles and the people, or whites and blacks".
"Nothing is more imperious ... than weakness when it knows it is backed by strength; look at women".
1788–1860: Arthur Schopenhauer[edit | edit source]
"Taken as a whole, women are . . . thorough-going philistines, and quite incurable."
"It is certainly a revolting idea that widows should sacrifice themselves on their husband’s dead body (as was customary is parts of India at the time); but it is also revolting that the money which the husband has earned by working diligently for all his life, in the hope that he was working for his children, should be wasted on her paramours."
"The fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice."
"Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they themselves are childish, foolish, and short-sighted—in a word, are big children all their lives, something intermediate between the child and the man, who is a man in the strict sense of the word."
"That woman is by nature intended to obey is shown by the fact that every woman who is placed in the unnatural position of absolute independence at once attaches herself to some kind of man, by whom she is controlled and governed; this is because she requires a master. If she, is young, the man is a lover; if she is old, a priest."
"Because women in truth exist entirely for the propagation of the race, and their destiny ends here, they live more for the species than for the individual, and in their hearts take the affairs of the species more seriously than those of the individual."
"The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man reaches the maturity of his reasoning powers and mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight; a woman at eighteen. And then, too, in the case of woman, it is only reason of a sort — very niggard in its dimensions. That is why women remain children their whole life long; never seeing anything but what is quite close to them, cleaving to the present moment, taking appearance for reality, and preferring trifles to matters of the first importance."
1803-1873: Edward Bulwer-Lytton[edit | edit source]
" You women regard men just as you buy books—you never care about what is in them, but how they are bound and lettered."
—The Lady of Lyons
" ... they may talk of the devotion of the sex [women], but the most faithful attachment in life is a woman in love—with herself"
Oh, woman! woman! thou shouldst have few sins
Of thine own to answer for! Thou art the author
Of such a book of follies in a man,
That it would need the tears of all the angels
To blot the record out!
1812-1870: Charles Dickens[edit | edit source]
"A man is lucky if he is the first love of a woman. A woman is lucky if she is the last love of a man."
—The Mystery of Edward Drood
"Women can always put things in fewest words. Except when it's blowing up; and then they lengthens it out."
"One can't be troubled, you know; and WE know, Mr. Weller—we, who are men of the world—that a good uniform must work its way with the women, sooner or later."
—The Pickwick Papers
1813–1855: Søren Kierkegaard[edit | edit source]
"For my part, if I were a woman, I had rather be a woman in the orient where I would be a slave, for to be a slave, neither more nor less, is at any rate something definite, in comparison with being . . . nothing whatever."
"Man can never be so cruel as a woman. Consult mythologies, fables, folktakes, and you will find this view confirmed. If a natural principle is to be described, whose mercilessness knows no limits, it will always be a feminine nature."
"When God created Eve, He let a deep sleep fall over Adam; for woman is the dream of man."
"Woman is personified egotism. Her fervent, burning devotion to man is neither more nor less than her egotism."
1819–1901: Queen Victoria[edit | edit source]
"I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights,’ with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to ‘unsex’ themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection."
1839–1925: Nakahara Nantenbō (Tōjū)[edit | edit source]
"The outward manner and temper of women is rooted in the negative (yin) power, and so temperamentally women are apt to be sensitive, petty, narrow, and jaundiced ... among women compassion and honesty are rare indeed. That is why Buddhism says that women are particularly sinful and have the greatest difficulty in attaining Buddhahood."
1844–1900: Friedrich Nietzsche[edit | edit source]
"From the beginning, nothing has been more alien, repugnant, and hostile to woman than truth—her great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance and beauty"
"Everything about woman has one solution: that is pregnancy."
"Woman! One-half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, inconstant... she needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and being humble as divine"
"From a woman you can learn nothing of women"
"Are you a slave? If so, you cannot be a friend. Are you a tyrant? If so, you cannot have friends. In woman, a slave and a tyrant have all too long been concealed. For that reason, woman is not yet capable of friendship: she knows only love. In a woman's love is injustice and blindness towards all that she does not love."
"But the man who is not superficial, who has depth of thought as well as of purpose, the depth which not only makes him desire right but endows him with determination and strength to do right, must always look on woman from the oriental standpoint:—as a possession, as private property, as something born to serve and be dependent on him ... What a necessary, logical, desirable growth for mankind! if we could only attain to it ourselves!
"While she thus appropriates new rights, aspires to be 'master', and inscribes the 'progress' of woman on her flags and banners, the very opposite reveals itself with terrible obviousness: woman retrogrades."
—Beyond Good and Evil
"Every relation that does not lift pulls down, and vice versa; therefore men usually sink a little when they take women, while women are lifted a little. Men who are too spiritual need marriage as much as they resist it like an adverse medicine."
—Human, All Too Human
"Inexperienced girls flatter themselves with the idea that it is in their power to make a man happy; later they learn that it means 'to look down on a man if one assumes that it only takes one girl to make him happy.' The vanity of women demands that a man to be more than a happy husband."
—Human, All Too Human
"In the state of hatred, women are more perilous than men; first of all, by no consideration of fairness, they can be inhibited in their once-aroused hostility, but allow their hatred to grow undisturbed to its final consequences, then because they are trained to find wounds (which every person, every party has), they stick to it: for which their sharp intellect provides them excellent services (whereas men are reserved at the sight of wounds, often generous and forgiving in their tune)."
—Human, All Too Human
"If the discontented, bitter and grumbling-heads were denied reproduction, the earth could be enchanted into a garden of happiness. -This one rule belongs in a practical philosophy for the female sex."
—Human, All Too Human
"Reflect on the whole history of women: do they not have to be
first of all and above all else actresses? Listen to physicians who
have hypnotized women; finally, love them—let yourself be
“hypnotized by them”! What is always the end result? That
they “put on something” even when they take off everything.
Woman is so artistic."
—The Gay Science
1849–1912: August Strindberg[edit | edit source]
"Every healthy man is a woman hater—yet he cannot survive if he does not ally himself with his enemy."
"All deviates and effeminate perverts among men have an adoration for women."
"To love is an active verb, and woman is a passive noun. He loves—she is loved."
"Women amount to nothing by themselves but mean everything to us, and are everything for us. They are our honor and our shame; our greatest joy, and our deepest pain and distress; our redemption and our fall; our reward and our punishment; our strength and our weakness."
1854-1925: E. Belfort Bax[edit | edit source]
"And while male man has ceased to represent a sex, in developing into the human personality complete up to date; woman still represents a sexual principle; her personality centres in sex, in fact she still remains for the most part, an amplified, beautified, embellished sexual organ."
—Some Heterodox Notes on the Women Question
"[the idea that] women are, and have been in the past, grievously oppressed by men, is, on one side of it wholly false, and on the other true only to a very limited extent ... Now, as a matter of fact, at no period of the world’s history has the female sex constituted a disinherited or oppressed class. Women may have been liable to certain disabilities. But these have been always compensated and often more than compensated by exemptions and special privileges. Economically, although dependent on men, women have for the most part had the “lion’s share at the banquet of life.”
"As a friend intimately acquainted with current political life recently observed to me, what these people want to get the suffrage for is not to further any broad social views whatever, but simply to get infamous laws passed against men as men. This I believe to be true. What they really want is the erection of a sex domination.
1854-1900: Oscar Wilde[edit | edit source]
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction."
"Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat."
"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being”
"Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects."
"Men always want to be a woman's first love—women like to be a man's last romance.
"Every woman is a rebel."
"A man’s love is like that. It is wider, larger, more human than a woman’s. Women think that they
are making ideals of men. What they are making of us are false idols merely. You made your false idol of me, and I had not the courage to
come down, show you my wounds, tell you my weaknesses. I was afraid that I might lose your love, as I have lost it now."
—The Ideal Husband
"The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain."
—The Importance of Being Earnest
"A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her."
—The Portrait of Dorian Grey
"My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."
1856-1939: Sigmund Freud[edit | edit source]
"Women oppose change, receive passively, and add nothing of their own."
"Girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis and do not forgive her for their being thus put at a disadvantage."
(When asked why he had no explanations for female mental development by a woman):"Well it's clear to me that you all are the problem."
"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?"
1856–1950: George Bernard Shaw[edit | edit source]
"You sometimes have to answer a woman according to her womanishness, just as you have to answer a fool according to his folly."
"It is a great advantage to women to be regarded as a race apart, an advantage, which, as usual, they abuse unscrupulously."
"Give women the vote and in five years there will be a crushing tax on bachelors".
"Women are supposed to have no political power; but clever women put stupid husbands into parliament and into ministerial offices quite easily."
1874-1936 G.K Chesterton[edit | edit source]
"It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands."
"Ten thousand English women marched through the streets shouting, 'We will not be dictated to,' and went off and became stenographers."
"A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition."
"All women dress to be noticed—gross and vulgar women to be grossly and vulgarly noticed, wise and modest women to be wisely and modestly noticed."
"Most of the women were of the kind vaguely called emancipated, and professed some protest against male supremacy. Yet these new women would always pay to a man the extravagant compliment which no ordinary woman ever pays to him, that of listening while he is talking."
—The Man Who Was Thursday
1875–1961: Carl Gustav Jung[edit | edit source]
"The animus of women is an answer to the spirit which rules the man. It has its origin in father's mind and shows what the girl has received from the lovely, kind, and incompetent father. His family weakness on the other hand he owes to the animus of his mother and thus the evil is handed on from generation to generation."
"No one can evade the fact, that in taking up a masculine calling, studying and working in a man's way, woman is doing something not wholly in agreement with, if not directly injurious to, her feminine nature."
1880–1903: Otto Weininger[edit | edit source]
"A superior woman is still infinitely inferior to that which, at least potentially, exists in the lowest of men."
"No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them."
"The well-known phrase, “Women have no character,” really means the same thing. Personality and individuality (intelligible), ego and soul, will and (intelligible) character, all these are different expressions of the same actuality, an actuality the male of mankind attains, the female lacks."
"How can I accuse woman after all, for serving man? Man wants nothing other than her. There is no man who would not be happy when he exercises sexual effect upon a woman. Hatred against woman is always only the not yet overcome hatred of one's own sexuality".
1880-1936: Oswald Spengler[edit | edit source]
"The male livingly experiences Destiny, and he comprehends Causality, the causal logic of the become. The female, on the contrary, is herself Destiny and Time and the organic logic of the Becoming, and for that very reason the principle of Causality is for ever alien to her.
—The Decline of The West
"Woman is strong and wholly what she is, and she experiences the Man and the sons only in relation to herself and her ordained role. In the masculine being, on the contrary, there is a certain contradiction; he is this man, and he is something else besides, which woman neither understands nor admits, which she feels as robbery and violence upon that which to her is holiest. This secret and fundamental war of the sexes has gone on ever since there were sexes, and will continue - silent, bitter, unforgiving, pitiless - while they continue."
"The man climbs up in his history until he has the future of a country in his hands - and then woman comes and forces him to his knees. Peoples and states may go down in ruin over it, but she in her history has conquered. This, in the last analysis, is always the aim of political ambition in a woman of race."
"And not until women cease to have race enough to have or to want children, not until they cease to be history, does it become possible for them to make or to copy the history of men."
"Man as peasant or noble turns towards, man as priest turns away from, woman [...] But for the true priest media vita in morte sumus (in the midst of life we be in death); what he shall bequeath is intellectual, and rejected woman bears no part in it."
"The woman is world-history. By conceiving and giving birth she cares for the perpetuation of the blood. The mother with the child at her breast is the grand emblem of cosmic life."
"Quite animal still is the trickery of woman towards man, and equally so the peasant's shrewdness in obtaining small advantages - both differing in no wise from the slyness of the fox, both consisting in the ability to see into the secret of the victim at one glance."
1880–1956: H. L. Mencken[edit | edit source]
"The first-rate woman is a realist. She sees clearly that, in a world dominated by second-rate men, the special capacities of the second-rate man are esteemed above all other capacities and given the highest rewards, and she endeavors to get her share of those rewards by marrying a second-rate man at the top of his class".
"[Women] are quite without that dog-like fidelity to duty which is one of the shining marks of men. They never summon up a high pride in doing what is inherently disagreeable; they always go to the galleys under protest, and with vows of sabotage".
"Women do not like timid men. Cats do not like prudent rats".
"Misogynist: a man who hates women as much as women hate one another."
1935–: Esther Vilar[edit | edit source]
"Men have been trained and conditioned by women, not unlike the way Pavlov conditioned his dogs, into becoming their slaves. As compensation for their labours men are given periodic use of a woman's vagina."
"Someday it will dawn on man that woman does not read the wonderful books with which he has filled his libraries, and though she may well admire his marvelous works of art in museums she herself will rarely create, only copy."
"By the age of twelve at the latest, most women have decided to become prostitutes. Or to put it another way, they have chosen a future for themselves that consists of choosing a man and letting him to do all the work."
"A man who would cry only if a real catastrophe occurred (perhaps the death of his wife) must assume that when his wife breaks into floods of tears because of cancelled holiday plans, for example, her emotions are equally strong ... What an advantage a man would have if only he realized the cold, clear thoughts running through a woman's head while her eyes are brimming with tears."
1947–: Camille Paglia[edit | edit source]
"If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."
"Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist."
"A woman simply is, but a man must become."
"Men are run ragged by female sexuality all their lives. From the beginning of his life to the end, no man ever fully commands any woman. It's an illusion. Men are pussy-whipped. And they know it. That's what the strip clubs are about; not woman as victim, not woman as slave, but woman as goddess."
References[edit | edit source]
- De Genesi ad literam (The Literal Meaning of Genesis) 9.5.9
[edit | edit source]
- The Pocket Book Of Quotations
- The Home Book Of Quotations - 8th ed.
- Carleton's hand-book of popular quotations