Gender Norms Quotes

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I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.
Jane Austen (Persuasion)
As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)
Do you really believe ... that everything historians tell us about men – or about women – is actually true? You ought to consider the fact that these histories have been written by men, who never tell the truth except by accident.
Moderata Fonte (The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe))
Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.
Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)
I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men." "Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.
Jane Austen (Persuasion)
It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)
When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)
The rule seemed to be that a great woman must either die unwed ... or find a still greater man to marry her. ... The great man, on the other hand, could marry where he liked, not being restricted to great women; indeed, it was often found sweet and commendable in him to choose a woman of no sort of greatness at all.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10))
When you grow up as a girl, the world tells you the things that you are supposed to be: emotional, loving, beautiful, wanted. And then when you are those things, the world tells you they are inferior: illogical, weak, vain, empty.
Stevie Nicks
In fact, there is perhaps only one human being in a thousand who is passionately interested in his job for the job's sake. The difference is that if that one person in a thousand is a man, we say, simply, that he is passionately keen on his job; if she is a woman, we say she is a freak.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society)
[W]hen I see men callously and cheerfully denying women the full use of their bodies, while insisting with sobs and howls on the satisfaction of their own, I simply can't find it heroic, or kind, or anything but pretty rotten and feeble.
Dorothy L. Sayers (The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist)
I am anchored on a resolve you cannot shake. My heart, my conscience shall dispose of my hand -- they only. Know this at last.
Charlotte Brontë (Shirley)
Does a rake deserve to possess anything of worth, since he chases everything in skirts and then imagines he can successfully hide his shame by slandering [women in general]?
Christine de Pizan (Der Sendbrief vom Liebesgott / The Letter of the God of Love (L'Epistre au Dieu d'Amours))
It is time to effect a revolution in female manners - time to restore to them their lost dignity - and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)
In reaction against the age-old slogan, "woman is the weaker vessel," or the still more offensive, "woman is a divine creature," we have, I think, allowed ourselves to drift into asserting that "a woman is as good as a man," without always pausing to think what exactly we mean by that. What, I feel, we ought to mean is something so obvious that it is apt to escape attention altogether, viz: (...) that a woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual. What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society)
There is no deception on the part of the woman, where a man bewilders himself: if he deludes his own wits, I can certainly acquit the women. Whatever man allows his mind to dwell upon the imprint his imagination has foolishly taken of women, is fanning the flames within himself -- and, since the woman knows nothing about it, she is not to blame. For if a man incites himself to drown, and will not restrain himself, it is not the water's fault.
John Gower (Confessio Amantis, Volume 1)
The man or the woman in whom resides greater virtue is the higher; neither the loftiness nor the lowliness of a person lies in the body according to the sex, but in the perfection of conduct and virtues.
Christine de Pizan (The Book of the City of Ladies)
When you hear men talking," said Cornelia, "all they ever do is speak ill of women. ... And I don't quite know how they managed to make this law in their favour, or who exactly it was who gave them a greater license to sin than is allowed to us; and if the fault is common to both sexes (as they can hardly deny), why should the blame not be as well? What makes them think they can boast of the same thing that in women brings only shame?
Moderata Fonte (The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe))
I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.
Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)
No: I shall not marry Samuel Fawthrop Wynne." "I ask why? I must have a reason. In all respects he is more than worthy of you." She stood on the hearth; she was pale as the white marble slab and cornice behind her; her eyes flashed large, dilated, unsmiling. "And I ask in what sense that young man is worthy of me?
Charlotte Brontë (Shirley)
Chastity ... has, even now, a religious importance in a woman's life, and has so wrapped itself round with nerves and instincts that to cut it free and bring it to the light of day demands courage of the rarest.
Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)
When a woman shows anger in institutional, political, and professional settings, she automatically violates gender norms.
Soraya Chemaly (Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger)
Gender-neutral language isn’t about replacing an old norm with a new one. People have the right to self-determine their gender whether it be a man, woman, or a nonbinary gender. The goal of gender-neutral language is to get rid of gender normativity, not everyone’s gender.
Alok Vaid-Menon (Beyond the Gender Binary)
Wine and women make wise men dote and forsake God's law and do wrong." However, the fault is not in the wine, and often not in the woman. The fault is in the one who misuses the wine or the woman or other of God's crations. Even if you get drunk on the wine and through this greed you lapse into lechery, the wine is not to blame but you are, in being unable or unwilling to discipline yourself. And even if you look at a woman and become caught up in her beauty and assent to sin [= adultery; extramarital sex], the woman is not to blame nor is the beauty given her by God to be disparaged: rather, you are to blame for not keeping your heart more clear of wicked thoughts. ... If you feel yourself tempted by the sight of a woman, control your gaze better ... You are free to leave her. Nothing constrains you to commit lechery but your own lecherous heart.
Anonymous (Dives and Pauper)
Gender norms are disgusting. Why aren't boys allowed to fucking cry or show any emotion other than anger and possessiveness? It's almost like our society is designed to create sociopaths so they can oppress anyone who tries to say anything they don't agree with. Oh wait. And obviously women are supposed to be pretty but not overdone, and smart but not nerdy or unattractively intelligent, and good at chores but not a slave, and strong but not overbearing, and flirty without being a tease, and sexy without being a slut, and pure enough so that their man doesn't think they're a whore. Because obviously all girls want a man.
Firelily
[Y]ou are not ashamed of your sin [in committing adultery] because so many men commit it. Man's wickedness is now such that men are more ashamed of chastity than of lechery. Murderers, thieves, perjurers, false witnesses, plunderers and fraudsters are detested and hated by people generally, but whoever will sleep with his servant girl in brazen lechery is liked and admired for it, and people make light of the damage to his soul. And if any man has the nerve to say that he is chaste and faithful to his wife and this gets known, he is ashamed to mix with other men, whose behaviour is not like his, for they will mock him and despise him and say he's not a real man; for man's wickedness is now of such proportions that no one is considered a man unless he is overcome by lechery, while one who overcomes lechery and stays chaste is considered unmanly.
Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 1-19 (Vol. III/1) (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
Dads. It’s time to show our sons how to properly treat a woman. It’s time to show our daughters how a girl should expect be treated. It’s time to show forgiveness and compassion. It’s time to show our children empathy. It’s time to break social norms and teach a healthier way of life! It’s time to teach good gender roles and to ditch the unnecessary ones. Does it really matter if your son likes the color pink? Is it going to hurt anybody? Do you not see the damage it inflicts to tell a boy that there is something wrong with him because he likes a certain color? Do we not see the damage we do in labeling our girls “tom boys” or our boys “feminine” just because they have their own likes and opinions on things? Things that really don’t matter?
Dan Pearce (Single Dad Laughing: The Best of Year One)
[In 16th century European society] Marriage was the triumphal arch through which women, almost without exception, had to pass in order to reach the public eye. And after marriage followed, in theory, the total self-abnegation of the woman.
Antonia Fraser (The Wives of Henry VIII)
It really is something ... that men disapprove even of our doing things that are patently good. Wouldn't it be possible for us just to banish these men from our lives, and escape their carping and jeering once and for all? Couldn't we live without them? Couldn't we earn our living and manage our affairs without help from them? Come on, let's wake up, and claim back our freedom, and the honour and dignity that they have usurped from us for so long. Do you think that if we really put our minds to it, we would be lacking the courage to defend ourselves, the strength to fend for ourselves, or the talents to earn our own living? Let's take our courage into our hands and do it, and then we can leave it up to them to mend their ways as much as they can: we shan't really care what the outcome is, just as long as we are no longer subjugated to them.
Moderata Fonte (The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe))
Causing any damage or harm to one party in order to help another party is not justice, and likewise, attacking all feminine conduct [in order to warn men away from individual women who are deceitful] is contrary to the truth, just as I will show you with a hypothetical case. Let us suppose they did this intending to draw fools away from foolishness. It would be as if I attacked fire -- a very good and necessary element nevertheless -- because some people burnt themselves, or water because someone drowned. The same can be said of all good things which can be used well or used badly. But one must not attack them if fools abuse them.
Christine de Pizan (The Book of the City of Ladies)
Yet if women are so flighty, fickle, changeable, susceptible, and inconstant (as some clerks would have us believe), why is it that their suitors have to resort to such trickery to have their way with them? And why don't women quickly succumb to them, without the need for all this skill and ingenuity in conquering them? For there is no need to go to war for a castle that is already captured. (...) Therefore, since it is necessary to call on such skill, ingenuity, and effort in order to seduce a woman, whether of high or humble birth, the logical conclusion to draw is that women are by no means as fickle as some men claim, or as easily influenced in their behaviour. And if anyone tells me that books are full of women like these, it is this very reply, frequently given, which causes me to complain. My response is that women did not write these books nor include the material which attacks them and their morals. Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart's content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence. But if women had written these books, I know full well the subject would have been handled differently. They know that they stand wrongfully accused, and that the cake has not been divided up equally, for the strongest take the lion's share, and the one who does the sharing out keeps the biggest portion for himself.
Christine de Pizan (Der Sendbrief vom Liebesgott / The Letter of the God of Love (L'Epistre au Dieu d'Amours))
Girls, New Girl, 2 Broke Girls. What do they all have in common? The universal gender classification, “girl,” is white. In all three of these successful series, a default girl (or two) is implied and she is white. That is the norm and that is what is acceptable. Anything else is niche.
Issa Rae (The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl)
Some gender norms are healthy, some are unhealthy - you must wake up from the patriarchal sleep to recognize which is which.
Abhijit Naskar (See No Gender)
God bids you not to commit lechery, that is, not to have sex with any woman except your wife. You ask of her that she should not have sex with anyone except you -- yet you are not willing to observe the same restraint in return. Where you ought to be ahead of your wife in virtue, you collapse under the onset of lechery. ... Complaints are always being made about men's lechery, yet wives do not dare to find fault with their husbands for it. Male lechery is so brazen and so habitual that it is now sanctioned [= permitted], to the extent that men tell their wives that lechery and adultery are legitimate for men but not for women.
Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 1-19 (Vol. III/1) (The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century))
Jesus is like us in every respect. Don’t brush this sentence off casually. Let it sink in, deep to the core of who you are. God is like us in every respect. He is like the transgender woman who is worried she’ll be murdered while walking to her car after work. He is like the broken-hearted gay man who can’t attend the church of his childhood. He is like the bisexual intersex person who doesn’t conform to gender norms and endures the snide looks and sniggers of strangers. He is like these people just as much as the heterosexual man who is comfortable performing his gender in a way this society finds acceptable.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall (Where True Love Is: An Affirming Devotional for LGBTQI+ Individuals and Their Allies)
They wanted black women to conform to the gender norms set by white society. They wanted to be recognized as 'men,' as patriarchs, by other men, including white men. Yet they could not assume this position if black women were not willing to conform to prevailing sexist gender norms. Many black women who has endured white-supremacist patriarchal domination during slavery did not want to be dominated by black men after manumission.
bell hooks (We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity)
She sang, as requested. There was much about love in the ballad: faithful love that refused to abandon its object; love that disaster could not shake; love that, in calamity, waxed fonder, in poverty clung closer. The words were set to a fine old air -- in themselves they were simple and sweet: perhaps, when read, they wanted force; when well sung, they wanted nothing. Shirley sang them well: she breathed into the feeling, softness, she poured round the passion, force: her voice was fine that evening; its expression dramatic: she impressed all, and charmed one. On leaving the instrument, she went to the fire, and sat down on a seat -- semi-stool, semi-cushion: the ladies were round her -- none of them spoke. The Misses Sympson and the Misses Nunnely looked upon her, as quiet poultry might look on an egret, an ibis, or any other strange fowl. What made her sing so? They never sang so. Was it proper to sing with such expression, with such originality -- so unlike a school girl? Decidedly not: it was strange, it was unusual. What was strange must be wrong; what was unusual must be improper. Shirley was judged.
Charlotte Brontë (Shirley)
I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee's life of the poet. She died young--alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh.
Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)
This pre-eminence is something [men] have unjustly arrogated to themselves. And when it's said that women must be subject to men, the phrase should be understood in the same sense as when we say we are subject to natural disasters, diseases, and all the other accidents of this life: it's not a case of being subjected in the sense of obeying, but rather of suffering an imposition, not a case of serving them fearfully, but rather of tolerating them in a spirit of Christian charity, since they have been given to us by God as a spiritual trial.
Moderata Fonte (The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe))
Women are just as motivated by the desire for power as men; it's just that our cultural ideas about power don't associate it with femininity.
Soraya Chemaly (Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger)
Males have been groomed since birth, according to the specifications of a sick and perverse society, to become instruments of war.
Bryant McGill (Voice of Reason)
[Mo] sapeva che a Caterina, Cecilia e Maria, quando avessero messo piede su Deneb, nessuno avrebbe chiesto di compilare un modulo sbarrando la F. e non la M. per relegarle di conseguenza in uno scompartimento di seconda categoria.
Bianca Pitzorno (Extraterrestre alla pari)
It is the socially determined norms and traditions of gender roles, which must be challenged, and challenged with vigor. In nearly all countries, including America, the truth is that women have a low social status, and are considered inferior.
Bryant McGill (Voice of Reason)
To every guy who tries to say that we have already achieved equality for the sexes, if this were true, you wouldn't be told to "man up", "be a man", "stop being a p*#%y", "harden the fuck up", "toughen up", "boys don't cry", "don't be such a girl", "stop being a wimp". As long as this type of language still exists in our society, then gender equality, my friends, has in fact not been achieved after all.
Miya Yamanouchi (Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women)
The world doesn't need a good woman who is meekly obedient to the uncivilized social norms that advocate female inferiority. The world needs those bad women who can think for themselves, to break the primeval norms of the society that consistently drag the human civilization back to the stone-age.
Abhijit Naskar (The Bengal Tigress: A Treatise on Gender Equality (Humanism Series))
She wanted to tell the girl: It’s complicated. I am now a person I never imagined I would be, and I don’t know how to square that. I would like to be content, but instead I am stuck inside a prison of my own creation, where I torment myself endlessly, until I am left binge-eating Fig Newtons at midnight to keep from crying. I feel as though societal norms, gendered expectations, and the infuriating bluntness of biology have forced me to become this person even though I’m having a hard time parsing how, precisely, I arrived at this place. I am angry all the time. I would one day like to direct my own artwork toward a critique of these modern-day systems that articulates all this, but my brain no longer functions as it did before the baby, and I am really dumb now. I am afraid I will never be smart or happy or thin again. I am afraid I might be turning into a dog. Instead, she said, smiling, I love it. I love being a mom.
Rachel Yoder (Nightbitch)
Guys, you don't have to act "manly" to be considered a man; you are a man, so just be yourself. You don't have to prove your masculinity to anyone.
Miya Yamanouchi (Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women)
Within the universe of the extraordinary, those qualities we designate to human concepts of gender are often shared, exchanged, or even completely obliterated. Because of this mixture of traits, these twins called Genius and Madness often appear to be the same thing. They both have a tendency to blur the lines of what we call norms, or established reality. They both, when we study that grand tapestry known as history and modern-day society, tend to stand out in much bolder relief than other figures. -- from Dancing with Madness, Dancing with Genius
Aberjhani (Illuminated Corners: Collected Essays and Articles Volume I.)
abridged list of things to let go if you want to be happy: old versions of yourself / ideas about who and what you were supposed to be / other people’s expectations of you / societal expectations of you / gender norms / heteronormativity / internalized ideas about what your life is supposed to look like / the idea that romantic love makes you whole / relationships that cause you more grief than they’re worth / people who cross your boundaries / family that makes you feel unsafe or unwelcome / the need to make your happiness look like everyone else’s
Trista Mateer (Aphrodite Made Me Do It)
But of course saying 'just let go of toxic masculinity' to a man is like saying 'just relax' to a person having a panic attack. Men will only break free from the masculinity trap when they have a safe alternative, but for the time being they're growing up receiving the message that they are being surveilled and that any deviation from the ideals created by rigid masculinity will be grounds for embarrassment and rejection from men as well as women. The change is first and foremost individual, but it also has to be collective. No one is free from gender norms, and the messages that men receive about their gender is setting them up to fail, particularly in their intimate relationships.
Liz Plank (For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity)
Am I being unfair? Is it only my self-hatred playing me a trick? Self-hatred is a gendered feeling: in a man it makes him a wimp; in a woman it's the natural order to feel defective.
Jens Christian Grøndahl (Tit er jeg glad)
If well-behaved women seldom make history, it is not only because gender norms have constrained the range of female activity but because history hasn't been very good at capturing the lives of those whose contributions have been local and domestic. For centuries, women have sustained local communities, raising food, caring for the sick, and picking up the pieces after wars.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History)
Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on [E]arth. According to the United Nations' Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality. Insofar as there is a crime problem in Western Europe, it is largely the product of immigration. Seventy percent of the inmates of France's jails, for instance, are Muslim. The Muslims of Western Europe are generally not atheists. Conversely, the fifty nations now ranked lowest in terms of the United Nations' [H]uman [D]evelopment [I]ndex are unwaveringly religious. Other analyses paint the same picture: the United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious adherence; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and infant mortality. The same comparison holds true within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious literalism, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms.
Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation)
Our culture is constantly thrusting gender expectations on all of us. This becomes a problem when it limits people's expressions and identities and perpetuates intolerance of anything that's not the norm.
Ashley Mardell (The ABC's of LGBT+)
you are only a member of a recognized minority group so long as you accept the specific grievances, political grievances and resulting electoral platforms that other people have worked out for you. Step outside of these lines and you are not a person with the same characteristics you had before but who happens to think differently from some prescribed norm. You have the characteristics taken away from you.
Douglas Murray (The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity)
Feminism is active. It's not something you are; it's something you do. It's what you fight for that matters. Feminism is not an identity but a movement, a way of living. And feminism isn't just about women - it's about liberating everyone from gender oppression, but since women are most oppressed by modern gender norms and laws, and since the movement has always been driven by women's politics, 'feminism' is an appropriate name.
Laurie Penny (Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults)
Long before we had writing or farms or post-digital strike helicopters, we had each other. We lived together and changed each other, and so we needed to say “this is who I am, this is what I do.” So, in the same way that we attached sounds to meanings to make language, we began to attach clusters of behavior to signal social roles. Those clusters were rich, and quick-changing, and so just like language, we needed networks devoted to processing them. We needed a place in the brain to construct and to analyze gender.
Isabel Fall
Women and girls cannot access full humanity and the rights and opportunities of full human status while the idea that there are personality traits and appearance norms that are naturally and essentially associated with girls and women still has social currency and serves to control and limit their lives.
Sheila Jeffreys (Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism)
[J]ust the sight of this book, even though it was of no authority, made me wonder how it happened that so many different men – and learned men among them – have been and are so inclined to express both in speaking and in their treatises and writings so many wicked insults about women and their behaviour. Not only one or two ... but, more generally, from the treatises of all philosophers and poets and from all the orators – it would take too long to mention their names – it seems that they all speak from one and the same mouth. Thinking deeply about these matters, I began to examine my character and conduct as a natural woman and, similarly, I considered other women whose company I frequently kept, princesses, great ladies, women of the middle and lower classes, who had graciously told me of their most private and intimate thoughts, hoping that I could judge impartially and in good conscience whether the testimony of so many notable men could be true. To the best of my knowledge, no matter how long I confronted or dissected the problem, I could not see or realise how their claims could be true when compared to the natural behaviour and character of women.
Christine de Pizan (The Book of the City of Ladies)
Both men and women experience pressure to conform to social standards of attractiveness. Men to look strong and be tough, women to look pretty and soft. Men to be masculine, women to be feminine. Men get judged for being "too feminine", women get criticized for being "too masculine". Gender policing affects us all.
Miya Yamanouchi (Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women)
In a study of children's toy and television preferences, researchers Isabelle Cherney and Kamala London found that, when left alone, half of boys ages five through thirteen picked "girl" and "boy" toys equally - until they thought they were being watched. They were especially concerned about what their fathers would think if they saw them. Over time, boys' interests in toys and media become more rigidly masculinized and codified, whereas girls' stay relatively open ended and flexible.
Soraya Chemaly (Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger)
i am relieved. when i see the feminine presence in a man’s eyes. it means he is a peace i do not have to bring to him. –– ease
Nayyirah Waheed (Salt)
The core issue is that, no matter where you may live in the world, dominant norms of masculinity are actively constructed out of women's vulnerabilities.
Soraya Chemaly (Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger)
If you don't challenge things, all you have done is passed it on to the next woman to deal with.
Julia Hardy
If there are real men, I haven't met them yet.
T Kira Madden (Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls)
For most of our history the very category “human” has not embraced Black people and people of color. Its abstractness has been colored white and gendered male.
Angela Y. Davis (Freedom is a Constant Struggle)
To borrow a metaphor from the kitchen sink… Children form strong opinions easily. They soak up information from their parents, school, and the media, and repeat it back to the world. So when you don’t look or act like what everyone has been told is the norm, you get proverbially barfed on a lot.
Liz Prince (Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir)
You don’t have to look a certain way to be a tomboy. Don’t let anyone tell you that, ever, and please don’t find that here in my words. Tomboy thrums in your heart. It’s in your head. It’s what is holding your spine in place. It can’t be hidden by a haircut. It’s not about nail polish or not. It’s running right now in your veins. If it is in you, you already know. Tomboy blood is so much bigger than the outside of you.
Ivan E. Coyote
Just because she saw that the vagaries of capitalism, patriarchy, gender norms, or consumerism contributed to facial dysphoria didn't mean she had developed immunity to them. In fact, a political consciousness honed on queer sensitivity simply made her feel guilty about not having managed to change her deeply ingrained beauty norms. Call her a fraud, a hypocrite, superficial, but politics and practice parted paths at her own body.
Torrey Peters (Detransition, Baby)
My Lady, you certainly tell me about wonderful constancy, strength and virtue and firmness of women, so can one say the same thing about men? (...) Response [by Lady Rectitude]: "Fair sweet friend, have you not yet heard the saying that the fool sees well enough a small cut in the face of his neighbour, but he disregards the great gaping one above his own eye? I will show you the great contradiction in what the men say about the changeability and inconstancy of women. It is true that they all generally insist that women are very frail [= fickle] by nature. And since they accuse women of frailty, one would suppose that they themselves take care to maintain a reputation for constancy, or at the very least, that the women are indeed less so than they are themselves. And yet, it is obvious that they demand of women greater constancy than they themselves have, for they who claim to be of this strong and noble condition cannot refrain from a whole number of very great defects and sins, and not out of ignorance, either, but out of pure malice, knowing well how badly they are misbehaving. But all this they excuse in themselves and say that it is in the nature of man to sin, yet if it so happens that any women stray into any misdeed (of which they themselves are the cause by their great power and longhandedness), then it's suddenly all frailty and inconstancy, they claim. But it seems to me that since they do call women frail, they should not support that frailty, and not ascribe to them as a great crime what in themselves they merely consider a little defect.
Christine de Pizan (The Book of the City of Ladies)
It was a fact generally acknowledged by all but the most contumacious spirits at the beginning of the seventeenth century that woman was the weaker vessel; weaker than man, that is. ... That was the way God had arranged Creation, sanctified in the words of the Apostle. ... Under the common law of England at the accession of King James I, no female had any rights at all (if some were allowed by custom). As an unmarried woman her rights were swallowed up in her father's, and she was his to dispose of in marriage at will. Once she was married her property became absolutely that of her husband. What of those who did not marry? Common law met that problem blandly by not recognizing it. In the words of The Lawes Resolutions [the leading 17th century compendium on women's legal status]: 'All of them are understood either married or to be married.' In 1603 England, in short, still lived in a world governed by feudal law, where a wife passed from the guardianship of her father to her husband; her husband also stood in relation to her as a feudal lord.
Antonia Fraser (The Weaker Vessel)
The idea that in prehistoric times a man would spend his life hunting only for the benefit of his own wife and children, who were dependent solely upon his hunting prowess for survival, is simply a projection of 1950s marital norms onto the past.
Stephanie Coontz (Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage)
To fight against these falsehoods, though, one needed to be able to see past the present-day and very male-oriented distortion lens to the underlying truth. Beyond question, Molly Valle could do this. A woman whose surface appearance, eyeglasses and conservative clothes, fit the schoolmarm stereotype to a T. Yet she had sloughed off that exterior and society’s restrictions as effortlessly as she had her clothes, and during their lovemaking, she had not only kept up with him but often passed ahead of him. With other women, he had seen the embers of passion but never the flame. Tonight, he had witnessed the bonfire.
Ray Smith (The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen)
We are told again and again by patriarchal mass media, by sexist leaders, that feminism is dead, that it no longer has meaning. In actuality, females and males of all ages, everywhere, continue to grapple with the issue of gender equality, continue to seek roles for themselves that will liberate rather than restrict and confine; and they continue to turn towards feminism for answers. Visionary feminism offers us hope for the future. By emphasizing an ethics of mutuality and interdependency feminist thinking offers us a way to end domination while simultaneously changing the impact of inequality. In a universe where mutuality is the norm, there may be times when all is not equal, but the consequence of that inequality will not be subordination, colonization, and dehumanization. Feminism
bell hooks (Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics)
This distorted lens may lead someone studying human sexuality to ask: “Where are you on a spectrum from straight to gay?” This question would miss a pattern we found in our data suggesting that people's arousal systems are not bundled by the gender of whatever it is that turns them on: 4.5% of men find the naked male form aversive but penises arousing, while 6.7% of women find the female form arousing, but vaginas aversive. Using simplified community identifications like the gay-straight spectrum to investigate how and why arousal patterns develop is akin to studying historic human migration patterns by distributing a research survey asking respondents to report their position on a spectrum from “white” to “person of color.” Yes, “person of color,” like the concept of “gay,” is a useful moniker to understand the life experiences of a person, but a person’s place on a “white” to “person of color” spectrum tells us little about their ethnicity, just as a person’s place on a scale of gay to straight tells us little about their underlying arousal patterns. The old way of looking at arousal limits our ability to describe sexuality to a grey scale. We miss that there is no such thing as attraction to just “females,” but rather a vast array of arousal systems that react to stimuli our society typically associates with “females” including things like vaginas, breasts, the female form, a gait associated with a wider hip bone, soft skin, a higher tone of voice, the gender identity of female, a person dressed in “female” clothing, and female gender roles. Arousal from any one of these things correlates with the others, but this correlation is lighter than a gay-straight spectrum would imply. Our data shows it is the norm for a person to derive arousal from only a few of these stimuli sets and not others. Given this reality, human sexuality is not well captured by a single sexual spectrum. Moreover, contextualizing sexuality as a contrast between these communities and a societal “default” can obscure otherwise-glaring data points. Because we contrast “default” female sexuality against “other” groups, such as the gay community and the BDSM community, it is natural to assume that a “typical” woman is most likely to be very turned on by the sight of male genitalia or the naked male form and that she will be generally disinterested in dominance displays (because being gay and/or into BDSM would be considered atypical, a typical woman must be defined as the opposite of these “other,” atypical groups). Our data shows this is simply not the case. The average female is more likely to be very turned on by seeing a person act dominant in a sexual context than she is to be aroused by either male genitalia or the naked male form. The average woman is not defined by male-focused sexual attraction, but rather dominance-focused sexual attraction. This is one of those things that would have been blindingly obvious to anyone who ran a simple survey of arousal pathways in the general American population, but has been overlooked because society has come to define “default” sexuality not by what actually turns people on, but rather in contrast to that which groups historically thought of as “other.
Simone Collins (The Pragmatist’s Guide to Sexuality: What Turns People On, Why, and What That Tells Us About Our Species (The Pragmatist's Guide))
I understood intersectionality—the way that white supremacy props up patriarchy props up poverty props up environmental destruction props up white supremacy again—on a gut level, even if I didn’t know to call it “intersectionality” yet. I understood that sex workers are often stigmatized, barred from claiming their full humanity, by sexist culture and feminist movements alike. I understood that the idea of “The Closet” applied to so much more than just queer people, that we are all in a closet of one kind or another. And, contrary to all of my actions since, I understood that high heels and back problems were, in fact, related. What stands out to me most is that, at the age of seventeen, I seem to have understood the full stakes of what I was doing. I understood that by challenging gender norms and conventional masculinity, I was challenging, well, everything. Through challenging the idea of manhood, of being “a good man,” of “manning up,” I was burrowing deep into the core of power, privilege, and hierarchy. On a gut level, I understood that my freedom and liberation were wrapped up with those of so many others who were facing oppression.
Jacob Tobia (Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story)
function. In my previous book, Down Girl, I argued that misogyny should not be understood as a monolithic, deep-seated psychological hatred of girls and women. Instead, it’s best conceptualized as the “law enforcement” branch of patriarchy—a system that functions to police and enforce gendered norms and expectations, and involves girls and women facing disproportionately or distinctively hostile treatment because of their gender, among other factors.
Kate Manne (Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women)
Only when we stop looking at male roles and forms of power as the norm and begin to look at female arrangements and perceive them as equally valid and significant - though perhaps different in form - can we see how male and female roles are intertwined, and begin to understand how human societies operate.
Ivan Illich (Gender)
Harassment and the ever-present suggestions of violence at this scale constantly reminds women and girls of their place. For the most part, girls' and women's experiences with harassment are still cloaked in silence, and we continue, as a global society, to peddle dangerous advice to girls about "staying safe." This isn't about safety. If it were, we'd teach boys, who are also subject to childhood molestation and risk, the same lessons, but we don't. It's about social control.
Soraya Chemaly (Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger)
We adults are behind the world in which our children live. They are running ahead. And in failing to catch up, we neglect them. We fail kids daily by not taking a more active hand in examining their lives, including the fossilized norms that no longer account adequately for their lives. Perhaps, if there is anything good
Ken Corbett (A Murder Over a Girl: Justice, Gender, Junior High)
Employment procedures that are unwittingly biased towards men are an issue in promotion as well as hiring. A classic example comes from Google, where women weren’t nominating themselves for promotion at the same rate as men. This is unsurprising: women are conditioned to be modest, and are penalised when they step outside of this prescribed gender norm.
Caroline Criado Pérez (Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men)
[Women] complain about many clerks who attribute all sorts of faults to them and who compose works about them in rhyme, prose, and verse, criticizing their conduct in a variety of different ways. They then give these works as elementary textbooks to their young pupils at the beginning of their schooling, to provide them with exempla and received wisdom, so that they will remember this teaching when they come of age ... They accuse [women] of many ... serious vice[s] and are very critical of them, finding no excuse for them whatsoever. This is the way clerks behave day and night, composing their verse now in French, now in Latin. And they base their opinions on goodness only knows which books, which are more mendacious than a drunk. Ovid, in a book he wrote called Cures for Love, says many evil things about women, and I think he was wrong to do this. He accuses them of gross immorality, of filthy, vile, and wicked behaviour. (I disagree with him that they have such vices and promise to champion them in the fight against anyone who would like to throw down the gauntlet ...) Thus, clerks have studied this book since their early childhood as their grammar primer and then teach it to others so that no man will undertake to love a woman.
Christine de Pizan (Der Sendbrief vom Liebesgott / The Letter of the God of Love (L'Epistre au Dieu d'Amours))
Estamos más guapas con la boca cerrada. We are prettier with our mouths shut.
Ruta Sepetys (The Fountains of Silence)
Gender is a construct, a social experiment. That’s not my hot take. We’ve all heard this a million times by now. Usually, it’s said in the context of attempting to dismantle how restrictive gender norms are. It’s an ideology that posits one doesn’t have to present their gender in any constrictive way because gender isn’t real. It’s a figment of our imagination. While I agree wholeheartedly, I do not think we, and by “we” I mean the world, will ever rid ourselves of gender stereotypes completely. I’ll take it a step further and say that it is not helpful to think of gender as a thing that needs to be abolished. Gender can be a useful framework for folks to feel validated (trans folks included) through the shorthand it provides.*
Zachary Zane (Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto)
Today, in what Harvey Mansfield calls our "gender-neutral" society," there are no social norms. Eight decades after the Titanic, a German-built ferry en route from Estonia to Sweden sank in the Baltic Sea. Of the 1,051 passengers, only 139 lived to tell the tale. But the distribution of the survivors was very different from that of the Titanic. Women and children first? No female under fifteen or over sixty-five made it. Only 5 percent of all women passengers lived. The bulk of the survivors were young men. Forty-three percent of men aged 20 to 24 made it.
Mark Steyn (After America: Get Ready for Armageddon)
Were we dealing with a spectrum-based system that described male and female sexuality with equal accuracy, data taken from gay males would look similar to data taken from straight females—and yet this is not what we see in practice. Instead, the data associated with gay male sexuality presents a mirror image of data associated with straight males: Most gay men are as likely to find the female form aversive as straight men are likely to find the male form aversive. In gay females we observe a similar phenomenon, in which they mirror straight females instead of appearing in the same position on the spectrum as straight men—in other words, gay women are just as unlikely to find the male form aversive as straight females are to find the female form aversive. Some of the research highlighting these trends has been conducted with technology like laser doppler imaging (LDI), which measures genital blood flow when individuals are presented with pornographic images. The findings can, therefore, not be written off as a product of men lying to hide middling positions on the Kinsey scale due to a higher social stigma against what is thought of in the vernacular as male bisexuality/pansexuality. We should, however, note that laser Doppler imaging systems are hardly perfect, especially when measuring arousal in females. It is difficult to attribute these patterns to socialization, as they are observed across cultures and even within the earliest of gay communities that emerged in America, which had to overcome a huge amount of systemic oppression to exist. It’s a little crazy to argue that the socially oppressed sexuality of the early American gay community was largely a product of socialization given how much they had overcome just to come out. If, however, one works off the assumptions of our model, this pattern makes perfect sense. There must be a stage in male brain development that determines which set of gendered stimuli is dominant, then applies a negative modifier to stimuli associated with other genders. This stage does not apparently take place during female sexual development. 
Simone Collins (The Pragmatist’s Guide to Sexuality: What Turns People On, Why, and What That Tells Us About Our Species (The Pragmatist's Guide))
The first school shooting that attracted the attention of a horrified nation occurred on March 24, 1998, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Two boys opened fire on a schoolyard full of girls, killing four and one female teacher. In the wake of what came to be called the Jonesboro massacre, violence experts in media and academia sought to explain what others called “inexplicable.” For example, in a front-page Boston Globe story three days after the tragedy, David Kennedy from Harvard University was quoted as saying that these were “peculiar, horrible acts that can’t easily be explained.” Perhaps not. But there is a framework of explanation that goes much further than most of those routinely offered. It does not involve some incomprehensible, mysterious force. It is so straightforward that some might (incorrectly) dismiss it as unworthy of mention. Even after a string of school shootings by (mostly white) boys over the past decade, few Americans seem willing to face the fact that interpersonal violence—whether the victims are female or male—is a deeply gendered phenomenon. Obviously both sexes are victimized. But one sex is the perpetrator in the overwhelming majority of cases. So while the mainstream media provided us with tortured explanations for the Jonesboro tragedy that ranged from supernatural “evil” to the presence of guns in the southern tradition, arguably the most important story was overlooked. The Jonesboro massacre was in fact a gender crime. The shooters were boys, the victims girls. With the exception of a handful of op-ed pieces and a smattering of quotes from feminist academics in mainstream publications, most of the coverage of Jonesboro omitted in-depth discussion of one of the crucial facts of the tragedy. The older of the two boys reportedly acknowledged that the killings were an act of revenge he had dreamed up after having been rejected by a girl. This is the prototypical reason why adult men murder their wives. If a woman is going to be murdered by her male partner, the time she is most vulnerable is after she leaves him. Why wasn’t all of this widely discussed on television and in print in the days and weeks after the horrific shooting? The gender crime aspect of the Jonesboro tragedy was discussed in feminist publications and on the Internet, but was largely absent from mainstream media conversation. If it had been part of the discussion, average Americans might have been forced to acknowledge what people in the battered women’s movement have known for years—that our high rates of domestic and sexual violence are caused not by something in the water (or the gene pool), but by some of the contradictory and dysfunctional ways our culture defines “manhood.” For decades, battered women’s advocates and people who work with men who batter have warned us about the alarming number of boys who continue to use controlling and abusive behaviors in their relations with girls and women. Jonesboro was not so much a radical deviation from the norm—although the shooters were very young—as it was melodramatic evidence of the depth of the problem. It was not something about being kids in today’s society that caused a couple of young teenagers to put on camouflage outfits, go into the woods with loaded .22 rifles, pull a fire alarm, and then open fire on a crowd of helpless girls (and a few boys) who came running out into the playground. This was an act of premeditated mass murder. Kids didn’t do it. Boys did.
Jackson Katz (The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help (How to End Domestic Violence, Mental and Emotional Abuse, and Sexual Harassment))
The real story of Nader, Shahed, and other women who live as men in Afghanistan is not so much about how they break gender norms or what they have become by doing that. Rather, it is about this: Between gender and freedom, freedom is the bigger and more important idea. In Afghanistan as well as globally. Defining one’s gender becomes a concern only after freedom is achieved. Then a person can begin to fill the word with new meaning.
Jenny Nordberg (The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan)
The summer dresses are unpacked and hanging in the closet, two of them, pure cotton, which is better than synthetics like the cheaper ones, though even so, when it's muggy, in July and August, you sweat inside them. No worry about sunburn though, said Aunt Lydia. The spectacles women used to make of themselves. Oiling themselves like roast meat on a spit, and bare backs and shoulders, on the street, in public, and legs, not even stockings on them, no wonder those things used to happen. [...] And not good for the complexion, not at all, wrinkle you up like a dried apple. But we weren't supposed to care about our complexions any more, she'd forgotten that.
Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1))
We are also greatly influenced by consumption norms within the relevant group. A light eater eats much more in a group of heavy eaters. A heavy eater will show more restraint in a light-eating group. The group average thus exerts a significant influence. But there are gender differences as well. Women often eat less on dates; men tend to eat a lot more, apparently with the belief that women are impressed by a lot of manly eating. (Note to men: they aren’t.) So
Richard H. Thaler (Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness)
Memory is cast by allegiance and recast by contradictory feelings and experiences. Memories and beliefs also follow on social customs or norms; our beliefs build and solidify our memories. None of us can claim a pristine memory-house.
Ken Corbett (A Murder Over a Girl: Justice, Gender, Junior High)
I am interested in your opinion about the myth of the tortured artist, and its usefulness for a society badly in need of healthy models of creativity. Most of the writers I know are struggling to make important art, but they are also struggling, equally hard, to live healthly, connected, value-creating daily lives. Do you think we are moving past praising the glamour of the nonfunctioning creative genius? I hope that we are. I find the idea of unsupported genius deeply distasteful: it disrespects mothers, and fathers, and teachers, and lovers, and all the accidents and opportunities and coincidences that conspire, along the way, to help create and launch an artistic sensibility. We need a new model: one that doesn’t depend on outmoded gender norms, destructive values, and the profoundly ugly idea that to be indebted is to be demeaned. Kindness is a core value for any artist, but most especially for a fiction writer: a self-centered person can’t see the world from another person’s point of view.
Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries)
Middle-class gay white men argued that 'gay rights' should remain a legislative issue and that 'legally sanctioned gay marriage should be a primary concern for all of us.' Kunzel charts the ways that the forced forgetting of queer and trans prisoners was central to the coalescing of 'new gay norms,' 'gay respectability,' and homonormativity. This disciplining of the queer left was a racialized proect that coalesced around shoring up the privileges afforded by whiteness, gender normativity, and capital.
Eric A. Stanley (Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex)
Centuries of social conditioning has created a generational fear among women of being perceived as masculine.This is where all the shaming and labels come into play, which perpetuate the oppression of girls and women. As a society we shame girls with deep voices or masculine features and we shame boys with soft voices or effeminate gestures. Girls get called "too manly" and boys get called "too girly". The only solution I can think of is to be unashamedly "you". If that means challenging stereotypes and gender norms, go right ahead!
Miya Yamanouchi (Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women)
To be called a copy, to be called unreal, is thus one way in which one can be oppressed. But consider that it is more fundamental than that. For to be oppressed means that you already exist as a subject of some kind, you are there as the visible and oppressed other for the master subject as a possible or potential subject. But to be unreal is something else again. For to be oppressed one must first become intelligible. To find that one is fundamentally unintelligible (indeed, that the laws of culture and of language find one to be an impossibility) is to find that one has not yet achieved access to the human. It is to find oneself speaking only and always as if one were human, but with the sense that one is not. It is to find that one's language is hollow, and that no recognition is forthcoming because the norms by which recognition takes place are not in one's favour.
Judith Butler (Undoing Gender)
On my analysis, misogyny’s primary function and constitutive manifestation is the punishment of “bad” women, and policing of women’s behavior. But systems of punishment and reward—and conviction and exoneration—tend to work together, holistically. So, the overall structural features of the account predict that misogyny as I’ve analyzed it is likely to work alongside other systems and mechanisms to enforce gender conformity. 7 And a little reflection on current social realities encourages pursuing this line of thinking, which would take the hostility women face to be the pointy, protruding tip of a larger patriarchal iceberg. We should also be concerned with the rewarding and valorizing of women who conform to gendered norms and expectations, enforce the “good” behavior of others, and engage in certain common forms of patriarchal virtue-signaling—by, for example, participating in slut-shaming, victim-blaming, or the Internet analog of witch-burning practices.
Kate Manne (Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny)
Whereas the Universal Breadwinner model penalizes women for not being like men, the Caregiver Parity model relegates them to an inferior “mommy track.” I conclude, accordingly, that feminists should develop a third model—“Universal Caregiver”—which would induce men to become more like women are now: people who combine employment with responsibilities for primary caregiving. Treating women’s current life patterns as the norm, this model would aim to overcome the separation of breadwinning and carework. Avoiding both the workerism of Universal Breadwinner and the domestic privatism of Caregiver Parity, it aims to provide gender justice and security for all.
Nancy Fraser (Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis)
In traditional Aeluon culture, a mother was not a parent. Parents were men and shon. Parents went to school for it. Parents were the people who actually raised children, not those who had done the easy business of creating them. The gendered expectations of parenting were dissolving, but even though women could be found working in creches now, there was still an enormous difference between the person who produced an egg and the person who took care of the little being that crawled out of it. Parenting was a profession, and it was not Pei’s. She could not imagine living like Ouloo, performing two distinct jobs at once, splitting herself for decades until Tupo reached adulthood. The whole idea was overwhelming.
Becky Chambers (The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4))
When ideologies that defend racism and heterosexism become taken-for-granted and appear to be natural and inevitable, they become hegemonic. Few question them and the social hierarchies they defend. Racism and heterosexism both share a common cognitive framework that uses binary thinking to produce hegemonic ideologies. Such thinking relies on oppositional categories. It views race through two oppositional categories of Whites and Blacks, gender through two categories of men and women, and sexuality through two oppositional categories of heterosexuals and homosexuals. A master binary of normal and deviant overlays and bundles together these and other lesser binaries. In this context, ideas about "normal" race (whiteness, which ironically, masquerades as racelessness), "normal" gender (using male experiences as the norm), and "normal" sexuality (heterosexuality, which operates in a similar hegemonic fashion) are tightly bundled together. In essence, to be completely "normal," one must be White, masculine, and heterosexual, the core hegemonic White masculinity. This mythical norm is hard to see because it is so taken-for-granted. Its antithesis, its Other, would be Black, female, and lesbian, a fact that Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde pointed out some time ago.
Patricia Hill Collins (Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism)