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 Gender and Gender Roles

Timothy Leary

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

– Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary on Women & Men Quotes

Timothy Leary’s quote provocatively challenges conventional notions of gender equality. He suggests that true ambition lies beyond merely seeking parity with men. Rather than aspiring to equality, Leary implies that women should aim higher, surpassing the standards set by men. The quote implies that striving for equivalence may limit women’s potential, constraining them within existing societal structures. Leary’s assertion sparks debate about the nature of ambition and gender dynamics, prompting reflection on whether equality should be the ultimate goal or if aspiring for something greater is the true measure of ambition and progress for women.

Barbara De Laere

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

– Barbara De Laere

Barbara De Laere on Women & Men Quotes

Barbara De Laere’s quote encapsulates the paradoxical nature of strength within relationships. It highlights the independence and capability of strong women while also addressing the role of men in supporting or hindering their autonomy. The quote suggests that while a strong woman is fully capable of achieving anything independently, a strong man might assert dominance or control, unintentionally or otherwise, thereby limiting her freedom and potential. It prompts reflection on the dynamics of power and support within relationships, emphasizing the importance of mutual respect, collaboration, and empowerment for both genders to thrive equally.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt on Women & Men Quotes

Eleanor Roosevelt’s metaphorical quote poignantly illustrates the resilience and strength inherent in women. Likening them to tea bags, it suggests that their true power manifests when faced with adversity, akin to the transformative process of steeping in hot water. The quote celebrates the often underestimated fortitude of women, highlighting their ability to confront challenges and emerge stronger. It underscores the importance of recognizing and valuing women’s strength, especially in times of difficulty. Roosevelt’s words serve as a reminder to acknowledge and empower women, acknowledging their capacity to overcome obstacles and thrive despite adversity.

Karl Lagerfeld

“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

Karl Lagerfeld on Women & Men Quotes

Karl Lagerfeld’s quote, though controversial, reflects his personal biases and opinions on physical appearance. He expresses a strong aversion to short men, deeming them inherently undesirable and harboring resentful tendencies. Lagerfeld’s words suggest a deep-seated prejudice against short stature in men, associating it with vindictiveness and hostility. While his perspective may be subjective, it highlights societal norms and perceptions surrounding masculinity and physical attributes. Lagerfeld’s candid commentary invites reflection on the complexities of beauty standards and their impact on individual self-worth and social acceptance, while also raising questions about the nature of prejudice and discrimination based on physical traits.

Karl Lagerfeld

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

– Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld on Women & Men Quotes

Karl Lagerfeld’s quote, while provocative, reflects his personal preferences and opinions on attractiveness. By stating that he would be a lesbian if he were a Russian woman due to his perception of Russian men as unattractive, Lagerfeld offers a candid observation on physical appearance. His remark may be seen as an oversimplification of sexuality and attraction, yet it sheds light on the influence of cultural stereotypes and beauty standards. Lagerfeld’s statement prompts reflection on the complexities of identity, desire, and societal norms, while also sparking discourse on the intersection of culture, sexuality, and perceptions of attractiveness.

Iris Apfel

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

– Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel on Women & Men Quotes

Iris Apfel’s quote challenges traditional notions of aging and beauty, highlighting a double standard between men and women. She suggests that society often judges a woman’s age based on her appearance, emphasizing external youthfulness. In contrast, Apfel implies that men are perceived as ageless until they lose interest in the world around them. This observation underscores the pressure on women to maintain a youthful appearance while acknowledging the freedom men often have to age gracefully without the same scrutiny. Apfel’s words provoke thought on societal expectations, gender dynamics, and the perception of aging in today’s culture.

Lady Gaga

“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

Lady Gaga on Women & Men Quotes

Lady Gaga’s quote eloquently encourages women to prioritize their ambitions over conforming to traditional gender roles. By juxtaposing following men with following dreams, she highlights the choice between seeking fulfillment through relationships or personal achievements. Gaga emphasizes the enduring value of a career, contrasting it with the potential instability of romantic partnerships. Her words empower women to pursue their passions autonomously, reminding them of the intrinsic value of self-reliance and the lasting fulfillment that comes from realizing their professional aspirations. Gaga’s message resonates with those navigating the balance between personal relationships and professional ambitions, inspiring them to prioritize self-fulfillment.

Katherine Hepburn

“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

Katherine Hepburn on Women & Men Quotes

Katherine Hepburn’s quote epitomizes her fierce independence and refusal to conform to societal expectations of femininity. By declaring that she has lived as a man, she asserts her autonomy and freedom to live on her own terms. Hepburn’s defiance against gender norms is evident in her assertion of doing what she pleases and her financial independence. Her fearlessness in embracing solitude challenges the notion that a woman’s worth is tied to her relationships. Hepburn’s words inspire women to defy conventions, pursue their desires unabashedly, and find strength in self-sufficiency and independence.

George Carlin

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

– George Carlin

George Carlin on Women & Men Quotes

George Carlin’s quote humorously rebukes the notion of inherent differences between men and women. By stating that both genders are from Earth, he dismisses the often exaggerated perceptions of dissimilarity. Carlin’s straightforward assertion challenges societal stereotypes and encourages acceptance of the fundamental equality between men and women. In a concise yet powerful manner, he reminds us to embrace the shared humanity of all individuals regardless of gender. Carlin’s words serve as a lighthearted yet poignant call for unity, urging society to move beyond divisive gender norms and treat each person as a unique individual deserving of respect and equality.

Dorothy L. Sayers

“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

Dorothy L. Sayers on Women & Men Quotes

Dorothy L. Sayers’ quote challenges the conventional narrative that attributes the success of great men solely to the women supporting them. She highlights the overlooked role of supportive fathers and husbands in the achievements of remarkable women. Sayers prompts reflection on the broader dynamics of support and influence within relationships, questioning traditional gender roles. Her words shed light on the complex interplay of familial and spousal support in shaping individuals’ accomplishments. Sayers’ quote serves as a reminder to recognize and celebrate the diverse sources of inspiration and encouragement behind both great men and women, emphasizing the importance of mutual support in achieving greatness.

Emma Watson

“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

Emma Watson on Women & Men Quotes

Emma Watson’s quote advocates for a more inclusive and fluid understanding of gender. She challenges traditional stereotypes by affirming that sensitivity and strength are qualities not bound by gender. Watson calls for a shift away from rigid binary perceptions of gender towards a more nuanced understanding, recognizing the diversity of experiences and expressions. By framing gender as a spectrum, she promotes a society where individuals are free to embrace and express themselves authentically, regardless of societal expectations. Watson’s words encourage acceptance, empowerment, and respect for all gender identities, fostering a more inclusive and equitable future for everyone.

Edith Wharton

“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

Edith Wharton on Women & Men Quotes

In this quote from “French Ways and Their Meaning,” Edith Wharton eloquently challenges the notion that men and women should confine themselves to separate spheres of social interaction. She argues that intelligent and cultured individuals, regardless of gender, seek diverse perspectives and experiences beyond their immediate households. Wharton criticizes the Puritan-influenced belief that socializing between genders is inherently dangerous, asserting that such attitudes hinder societal progress. By advocating for open and frank social relations between men and women, she promotes the idea that genuine civilization thrives on mutual respect, exchange of ideas, and the enrichment that comes from embracing diverse viewpoints and experiences.

Simone de Beauvoir

“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

Simone de Beauvoir on Women & Men Quotes

In this quote, Simone de Beauvoir criticizes the contradictory expectations placed on intellectual women by misogynists. She highlights the absurdity of demanding women to forsake traditional markers of femininity, such as makeup and grooming, while also insisting on equality. De Beauvoir argues that femininity, as constructed by societal norms, restricts individual freedom and autonomy. She contends that this external imposition stifles women’s ability to shape their own identities. By exposing the hypocrisy of such demands, de Beauvoir challenges the notion that women can only be equal by conforming to rigid gender expectations, advocating instead for liberation from societal constraints on femininity.

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

Simone de Beauvoir on Women & Men Quotes

Simone de Beauvoir’s quote envisions a transformative future where women love from a place of strength rather than weakness. She anticipates a time when women embrace their true selves, asserting their worth and autonomy without diminishing their identity. De Beauvoir believes that when women no longer feel compelled to subordinate themselves in love, it will cease to be a source of vulnerability and danger. Instead, love will become a nourishing force, empowering women to fully realize their potential. Her words inspire a vision of equality and liberation, where love becomes a source of vitality and fulfillment for both men and women.

Simone de Beauvoir

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

– Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir on Women & Men Quotes

Simone de Beauvoir’s quote encapsulates the essence of her existentialist philosophy regarding gender. She challenges the notion of femininity as an inherent trait, asserting instead that it is a product of societal constructs and experiences. By stating that one becomes a woman rather than being born as one, de Beauvoir highlights the social and cultural factors that shape gender identity. This perspective emphasizes the importance of recognizing individual agency and the role of society in shaping personal identity. De Beauvoir’s quote prompts reflection on the fluidity and complexity of gender, urging us to reconsider essentialist assumptions about femininity.