It is fashionable these days to believe not just in the legal equality of the sexes, but in their total interchangeability. Women are increasingly viewed not as something distinct from a man, but little more than a man in different clothing. However, the wisest figures in human history have not taken this view. As such, their opinion is worth revisiting.

That men and women are different is an obvious truth to anyone who has ever known either. To observe this is not to denigrate either. Indeed, to force a phony interchangeability between the two is the real insult to the dignity of each.

Understanding the duality and difference between men and women provides a great deal of insight not only into sexual dynamics, but into the world in which we live. Men and women both bring their qualities to life in the world around us. We can see it manifested in everything that human hands have touched.

What’s more it is the tension between men and women that makes interpersonal relationships so interesting. It is our difference — not our sameness — that creates sparks between the two. And without those sparks there’s not a lot of excitement in life.

Here are some of our favorite quotes regarding the duality of sex and why it is important.

Quotes About Duality and Female & Male Duality

“Are some myths more or less true than others? They’re true in different senses you see. Here (Buddhism?) is a whole mythology on the insight that transcends duality. (That transcends time.) Ours (Christianity) is a mythology based on the insight of duality. And so our axis tends to be ethical – sin and atonement, right and wrong.  The Judea-Christian creation myth starts with a sin you see.  Moving out of the mythological zone, the Garden of Paradise (Eden) where there is no time, and where men and women don’t even know that they are different from one another. They’re just creatures. And God and Man are practically the same. They walk together in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden together. And then they eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, which makes them aware of the opposites. And the man and woman cover their shame – they’re different. God and Man are now different. Nature is against Man. (All duality).”

– Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers Season 1 Episode 2 Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth – “The Message of the Myth”

“Is the god the source, or is the god a human manner of conceiving of the force and energy that supports the world? In our tradition God is a male. This male and female differentiation is made, however, within the field of time and space, the field of duality. If God is beyond duality, you cannot say that God is a ‘He.’ You cannot say God is a ‘She.’ You cannot say God is an ‘It.'”

– Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor

“For the male sickness of self-contempt the surest cure is to be loved by a clever woman.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

“All being, it seemed, was built on opposites, on division. Man or woman, vagabond or citizen, lover or thinker — no breath could both be in and out, none could be man and wife, free and yet orderly, knowing the urge of life and the joy of intellect. Always the one paid for the other, though each was equally precious and essential.”

– Herman Hesse


Women & Men (1)


“A man chases a woman until she catches him.”

– American proverb


Women & Men (2)


“Women get the last word in every argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.”

– American proverb


Women & Men (3)


“But there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites; hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind.”

– Carl Jung


Women & Men (4)


“Man may have discovered fire, but women discovered how to play with it.”

– Candace BushnellSex and the City

Quotes About Gender and Gender Roles


Women & Men (5)


“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

– Timothy Leary


Women & Men (6)


“A strong woman can do anything by herself. A strong man doesn’t let her.”

– Barbara De Laere


Women & Men (7)


“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“I have a terrible loathing of ugly short men…women can be short but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will never forgive in life…they are mean and they want to kill you.”

– Karl Lagerfeld


Women & Men (8)


“If I was a Russian woman I would be lesbian. Russian men are not good looking.”

– Karl Lagerfeld


Women & Men (9)


“A woman is as old as she looks – but a man is never old until he stops looking.”

– Iris Apfel

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

– Lady Gaga

“I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to, and I’ve made enough money to support myself, and ain’t afraid of being alone.”

– Katherine Hepburn


Women & Men (10)


“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”

– George Carlin

“Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him — or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.”

– Dorothy L. Sayers

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong…it is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideas.”

– Emma Watson

“Intelligent and cultivated people of either sex will never limit themselves to communing with their own households. Men and women equally, when they have the range of interests that real cultivation gives, need the stimulus of different points of view, the refreshment of new ideas as well as of new faces. The long hypocrisy which Puritan England handed on to America concerning the danger of frank and free social relations between men and women has done more than anything else to retard real civilisation in America.”

– Edith Wharton, French Ways and Their Meaning

“Misogynists have often reproached intellectual women for ‘letting themselves go’; but they also preach to them: if you want to be our equals, stop wearing makeup and polishing your nails. This advice is absurd. Precisely because the idea of femininity is artificially defined by customs and fashion, it is imposed on every woman from the outside…The individual is not free to shape the idea of femininity at will.”

– Simone de Beauvoir

“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself–on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”

– Simone de Beauvoir


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“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

– Simone de Beauvoir