The feminine in the man is the sugar in the whiskey. The masculine in the woman is the yeast in the bread. Without these ingredients the result is flat, without tang or flavor.

Edna Ferber

Mami wanted me to be a lady: / sit up straight, cross my ankles, / let men protect me. / Papi wanted me to be a leader. / To think quick & strike hard, / to speak rarely, but when I did, / to always be heard. Me? / Playing chess taught me a queen is both: / deadly & graceful, poised & ruthless.

Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land

Manliness has been defined as assertion of the self. Womanliness has been defined as the nurturing of selves other than our own — even if we quite lose our own in the process. (Women are supposed to find in this loss their true fulfillment.) But every individual person is born both to assert herself or himself and to act out a sympathy for others. . . . Jesus never taught that we should split up that commandment — assigning “love yourself” to men, “love others” to women. But society has tried to.

Barbara Deming

Most of us are so dominated by the idea of a vertical dividing line between masculine and feminine characteristics that we do not notice the discrepancy between the pattern and reality.

Florence Gay Seabury

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me — and ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it) and bear the lash as well — and ain’t I a woman?

Sojourner Truth

Instead of this absurd division into sexes they ought to class people as static and dynamic.

Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall

My father has never willingly put on a seat belt in his life. He has always found the very idea of “safety” to be ridiculous. Why would he ever want to be safe? What was he, a little girl? A miniature woman? A babylady? John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, huge hairy Samson from the Bible — those men didn’t wear seat belts. If they needed a seat belt, they tore off a man’s arm and laid it across their lap.

Patricia Lockwood

Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.

Lois Wyse

I learnt what men do not do. They do not wet their dry lips by running their tongues over them. They don’t trot after their mothers into the kitchen. They don’t use face powder. They don’t sit on a motorbike behind a woman. They don’t need mirrors in the rooms where they might change their clothes.

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

I think about how often me and the boys I knew and know were taught to love each other through expressions of violence. How, if that is our baseline for love, it might be impossible for us to love anyone well, including ourselves.

Hanif Abdurraqib

There is no great dark man. Even under an exterior as rugged as a mountain range, there lurks the same wounded, wincing psyche that cripples the rest of us.

Quentin Crisp

As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.

Patti Smith

What had I known of female character previously to my arrival at Brussels? Precious little. And what was my notion of it? Something vague, slight, gauzy, glittering. Now when I came in contact with it I found it to be a palpable substance enough — very hard too sometimes, and often heavy. There was metal in it, both lead and iron.

Charlotte Brontë, The Professor

I have bursts of being a lady, but it doesn’t last long.

Shelley Winters

In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Men and women . . . need and want recognition of their value and uniqueness. The goal is not to make women more like men, or men more like women, but for everyone to become most like themselves.

Eleanor Brantley Schwartz