What are your favorite feminist quotes or quotes about gender and/or feminism? What do they tell us about women, men, our society, misconceptions, and backlash feminism may still face?

Gender SymbolsIn thinking about these questions let’s reflect on the idea of a “feminist perspective” and the stigma that, believe it or not, still exists for many people studying and researching in the field of Women and Gender Studies (WGS)

We share several quotes from years ago that were filed away in a class materials folder from 1996. These were found though a random search using various search engines and pages devoted to the collection of quotes. At this point the sites and URLs are insignificant, but the quotes themselves are still meaningful.

How do the quotes below relate to what we know about gender? What we advocate for when it comes to gender equality? Why Feminism and Women and Gender Studies may be misunderstood and thus stigmatized? Or, as the last quotation suggests, whether this “gender thing” is history?

Defining Gender

“There is no original or primary gender …. gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.” ~Judith Butler

Gender Socialization

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.'”  ~Shirley Chisholm

“Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.”  ~Lois Wyse

Gender Identity for Women in Male Dominated Fields

“I appreciate the sentiment that I am a popular woman in computer gaming circles; but I prefer being thought of as a computer game designer rather than a woman computer game designer. I don’t put myself into gender mode when designing a game.” ~Roberta Williams

Feminism is not about Hating Men

“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.”  ~Jane Galvin Lewis

“Defining men as the perpetrators of all violence is a viciously immoral judgment of an entire gender. And defining women as inherently nonviolent condemns us to the equally restrictive role of sweet, meek, and weak.” ~Katherine Dunn

Does Gender Still Matter?

“But let me tell you, this gender thing is history. You’re looking at a guy who sat down with Margaret Thatcher across the table and talked about serious issues.” ~George H.W. Bush

A Reflection:

Many colleges and universities now offer courses, concentrations, majors, and minors in Women and Gender Studies. These courses may be part of core curricula or cross-listed with other departments. Yet some students interested in these courses have reservations about enrolling in them because of perceived stigma.

Feminist Reflections contributing editor Trina Smith was shocked when she attended a Women and Gender Studies meeting to learn that while many students take core and cross-listed WGS courses at her campus, they do not declare the WGS minor. A student involved in feminist activities told her that some of the students were afraid of what might happen to their career prospects if employers or graduate schools saw Women and Gender Studies on their transcripts.

Are these students’ fears warranted? Are they based on rumor or myth? If such concerns are realistic in a contemporary society in which a former U.S. president called “this gender thing history,” we might ask ourselves why social institutions would view the systematic study of gender as a deficit? Are such sentiments regionally based? Would I want to study or work in such environments?

One thing is certain, if we are still asking these kinds of questions in 2014 this “gender thing” is not yet history.