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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Jenkins

Things Strong Female Protagonists Say

The work and words of women have been largely subjugated throughout history. This month marks the 100th Anniversary of when American women were once again silenced.

On October 1, 1918, The National Women’s Party sought to pass the woman suffrage amendment. The United States Senate defeated it, two votes shy of the required two-thirds majority. But that didn’t stop the voices of strong women who’ve always made their voices heard. Women would go on to fight in wars, change the world and be the megaphone demanding the dignity of respect, recognition and equality. Woman would be heard, by hook or by crook and sometimes by book.

When women could only tell their stories through art and fiction, they’d sometimes use a pen name to hide their sex. Famed Victorian Era writer George Eliot’s, real name was Mary Ann Evans. She was one of several known authors who chose to publish under a man’s name, some to appease their publisher and others to avoid the negative attention that being a female novelist would attract. Virginia Woolf said, “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” 

We may never know how much of philosophy, science, the arts and literature can actually be credited to women. But we do have plenty of examples of women who shine. The following are inspiring and pithy quotes by strong female protagonists, both real and imagined from the past and now:

1. “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” - George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

2. “You’re a lady. It’s written all over you, but the West doesn’t forgive any woman-unless she’s got a man.” - Liliana Shelbrook, Lantern in the Mist

3. "Women are the real architects of society." - Harriet Beecher Stowe

4. “Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.” –Peggy Noonan

5. "The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop." - Emma Watson

6. “So,’ she said cautiously, 'is all this your way of telling me you’re the villain?’ His chuckle was dark. 'I’m definitely not the hero.’ 'I already knew that,’ Tella said. 'It’s my story, so clearly I’m the hero.” -Stephanie Garber, Legendary

7. “But if you want to know who the scariest person in the group is, look for the one who’s been fighting zombies without smearing her eyeliner.” - Mira Grant, Feedback

8. “Normally, I would have kicked him in the nuts for touching me without my consent.” - V.M. Marsh, Concealed Influence

9. “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

10.“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.” - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

11.“The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters.” - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

12.“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

13.“You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect. You should expect it.” - Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon

14.“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” - Brene Brown

15.. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” - Anaïs Nin

16.“I learned compassion from being discriminated against. Everything bad that’s ever happened to me has taught me compassion.” - Ellen DeGeneres

17.“When I’m tired, I rest. I say, ‘I can’t be a superwoman today.’” - Jada Pinkett Smith

18.“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

19.“You had the power all along my dear.” - Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

20.“And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better.”  - George Eliot

21."Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day. It's what we have to do. And we can do it together." – Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amends

22.“Oh I see, so basically, you’re going to take the best-looking girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?” - Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

23.“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” - Nora Ephron

24.“The power of a book lies in its power to turn a solitary act into a shared vision. As long as we have books, we are not alone.” – Former First Lady Laura Bush

25."Hi Zola, I'm here with your mom. She loves you very much. I think we are going to get arrested and we're so proud of you." - Amy Schumer

Find your own voice and get inspired at the Teen Author Boot Camp website. Hone your writing and join the conversation!

This post was brought to you by my good friend, and talented writer, Jo Schaffer.

Jo Schaffer is the YA Author of the Stanley & Hazel trilogy, co-founder of TABC, writer at BYU-TV and Taekwondo Blackbelt. She loves classic film, yummy food, traveling, hiking and teaching self-defense at the dojo. She's a native Californian living in the beautiful mountains of Utah with her three sons and insane cat, Hero. Follow her on Instagram @jojo_schaffer


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