Since the dawn of time, women have been proudly standing up for the rights of others, changing the course of history, and standing up to anyone who might try to stop them on the path toward progress. And while there have been countless influential women throughout history who have made policy decisions, influenced elections, and changed the world with their brilliant minds, a little razor-sharp humor certainly hasn’t hurt, either.
We’ve rounded up the 20 funniest timeless one-liners from history’s extraordinary women to inform, provoke, and, most importantly, crack you up. And when you want to get inspired, start by reading the 50 Inspirational Success Quotes That Will Energize Your Days!
On Work-Life Balance
“I have a brain and a uterus and I use both,” said congresswoman Patricia Scott Schroeder when asked about her ability to balance raising children and her career in politics. And for more spot-on quotes, check out the 30 Mark Twain One-Liners That Are Still Relevant Today.
“The one thing I do not want to be called is ‘first lady.’ It sounds like a saddle horse,” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis famously said about her title. If you want more wisdom from your favorite influential men and women, check out the 30 Best Celebrity Relationship Quotes.
“I have never wanted to be a man. I have often wanted to be a more effective woman, but I have never felt that trousers would do the trick,” said Eleanor Roosevelt in her Ladies’ Home Journal Column, If You Ask Me, in 1940.
Just because you’re the queen doesn’t mean you have to be a shrinking violet, as Queen Elizabeth knows all too well: “I can’t wear beige because nobody would know who I am,” her biographer has quoted her as saying.
While few people would call Condoleezza Rice unambitious, she’s not afraid to take a crack at her own expense when it comes to her political aspirations. “I didn’t even run for high school president. It’s not in my genes,” said Condoleezza Rice, when asked about a potential run for the vice presidency.
On Prying Spouses
Michelle Obama may love her husband, but that doesn’t mean she’s above telling him to back off when he starts asking about her shopping habits. “Solve world hunger. Get out of my closet,” the former First Lady told the New York Times. And when you want a wardrobe as powerful as the former First Lady’s, start by ditching the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.
Sure, being a Supreme Court justice is cool, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows there’s more out there to aspire to. “If I had any talent in the world, any talent that God would give me, I would be a great diva,” Notorious RBG told students at Georgetown University. And for more reasons to channel your own inner diva, check out the 100 Life-Changing Quotes to Inspire Your Days!
On Getting Ahead of Yourself
Kirsten Gillibrand’s wealth of political experience has taught her an important lesson: a lot of people eager to run for office suffer from a fatal flaw: overconfidence. “I can’t tell you how many 30-year-old dudes believe they should be senator or president. Women, we’re like, ‘Well, maybe after ten years of working …’ No. Just run for the office you want to run for and run on the issue you want to fix,” she told New York Magazine.
The key to getting ahead? Believing in yourself, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said of her success, “You could certainly say I’ve never underestimated myself.” And for some inspiration from the day’s news, check out Why This Intrepid Teacher’s Amazing Blackboard Drawing Is Going Viral.
On Impulse Control
Humans have a way of making ourselves seem like less evolved beings than we actually are, at least according to famed primatologist Jane Goodall. “Our brains are fully capable of controlling instinctive behavior. We’re not very good at it, though, are we?” she said in an interview with The Sierra Club.
On Gender Politics
Male or female, once you’re in space, there’s not much difference, said groundbreaking astronaut Sally Ride. “Weightlessness is a great equalizer,” noted the first American woman in space.
On Changing the World
Doing good doesn’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. “It will be difficult. But I am hopeful—because we like difficult,” said Melinda Gates.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knows that women’s appearances are often as well-noted as their actions. “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle,” she once joked.
Want to know how Gloria Allred maintains that healthy glow? “Fighting injustice keeps you young,” the women’s rights attorney is quoted as saying.
Noting that she was breaking ground by being the first Asian woman ever elected to the U.S. senate, in addition to being a Buddhist and an immigrant, former Hawaiian senator Mazie Hirono quipped, “Nobody’s perfect,” when asked if she was gay, as well.
On Taking People at Face Value
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time,” said famed author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
On the Difficulty of Self-Contemplation
What’s been getting in the way of true political change? Our self-indulgence. “We lowered our eyes from the horizon, and steadily contemplated our own navels,” women’s rights icon Betty Friedan says in The Feminine Mystique.
On Bodily Autonomy
“Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950’s or the 1890’s?” asked Senator Elizabeth Warren on the potential shut down of Planned Parenthood clinics.
A little patience goes a long way, especially when you get what you want. “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end,” said Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!