MRA graphic, “Feminist Quotes by Leading Feminists”: cherry-picking, misrepresentation, and invention

MRA, Feminist quotes by leading feminists

One popular MRA meme is titled “Feminist Quotes by Leading Feminists". It is a perfect example of the MRA misrepresentation of feminism. Either these people aren’t leaders, or the quotes are fake or from works of fiction (novels), or the quotes are taken out of context, or the piece is obscure and has no influence or currency in feminist politics and theory, or the quotes are accurate but representative of a particular strand of 1960s, 1970s and 80s radical feminism. They were hotly debated by other feminists at the time, and they are simply not representative of modern feminism.


Robin Morgan: This quote is from 1973, nearly 50 years ago.

Valerie Solanas: Solanas is notorious for the ‘SCUM Manifesto’, published in 1967, where this quote comes from. Solanas and her manifesto are simply not representative of feminism, whether of late 1960s feminism or contemporary feminism.

Solanas suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Solanas had no ties to local women’s liberation groups and she never held any organisational role in feminist or women’s groups or movements. ‘SCUM’ was a fictitious group – it never existed. Most feminist advocates had never heard of Solanas until she shot Andy Warhol. Her ‘SCUM Manifesto’ was self-published, and it was unknown until it was excerpted in a book (as noted in Rhodes, Radical feminism (2005), p. 47). Nor were Solanas’s views of men typical of the radical feminism at the time. As Alice Echols writes in Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975 (1989, pp. 104-105), Solanas’s unabashed misandry… contravened the sort of radical feminism which prevailed in most women’s groups across the country”.

Andrea Dworkin: This quote is by a *fictional character* in a novel of hers, “Mercy” (1990), by a woman who had been raped and is raging against this.

Susan Brownmiller: Yes, she wrote this, in her book “Against Her Will”, in 1975. It hardly represents contemporary feminist thinking on sexual violence.

Sharon Stone: She’s a prominent actor, but not at all a ‘feminist leader’.

Catharine MacKinnon: This quote is *fake*. She never said it or wrote it. See

Sally Miller Gearhart: This comment dates from a seminar, then published in 1982. Gearhart is not proposing mass murder, but selective reproduction. She was a dedicated pacifist and a science fiction writer, and interested in changing the ratios of female to male on Earth over time by technologies of cloning or ovular merging (

Gearhart’s 1982 seminar is highly obscure, and receives virtually no attention in the last three decades of feminist scholarship. Gearheart’s novel “Wanderground” is cited in some of the 100s of overviews of or introductions to feminism published in the last 30 years, but her seminar proposal for changing sex ratios is long buried in obscurity, receiving only 45 citations in 40 years (Google Scholar), a trivial number. Nevertheless, MRAs resuscitate the piece as somehow defining of feminism.

Catherine Comins: Comins is a minor commentator, and not a ‘leader’ in any real sense, whether in advocacy or scholarship. I had to Google her.

Marilyn French: The quote “All men are rapists”, like Dworkin’s above, is by a *fictional* character in a novel (by a character in French’s first novel, “The Women’s Room” (1977).

Germaine Greer: While identified by some as a prominent feminist, Greer has few if any ties to feminist groups, organisations, or scholarship. She is something of a loose cannon, as feminist criticisms of her recent work on rape show.