Bella Abzug Quotes

Bella Abzug (1920-1998)

Bella Abzug
Bella Abzug at a 1979 anti-nuclear protest. Barbara Alper/Getty Images

First Jewish Congresswoman, Bella Abzug was known for her wide-brimmed hats and fiery personality, as well as her work for feminism, peace, and civil liberties.

Selected Bella Abzug Quotations

• I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy.

• They used to give us a day--it was called International Women's Day.

In 1975 they gave us a year, the Year of the Woman. Then from 1975 to 1985 they gave us a decade, the Decade of the Woman. I said at the time, who knows, if we behave they may let us into the whole thing. Well, we didn't behave and here we are.

• Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.

• The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.

• Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.

• We are coming down from our pedestal and up from the laundry room. We want an equal share in government and we mean to get it.

• I am not elevating women to sainthood, nor am I suggesting that all women share the same views, or that all women are good and all men bad.

• Women have been and are prejudiced, narrowminded, reactionary, even violent.

Some women. They, of course, have a right to vote and a right to run for office. I will defend that right, but I will not support them or vote for them.

• If we get a government that reflects more of what this country is really about, we can turn the century -- and the economy -- around.

• Abortion doesn't belong in the political arena.

It's a private right, like many other rights concerning the family.

• I prefer the word "homemaker" because "housewife" always implies that there may be a wife someplace else.

• I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee.

• The establishment is made up of little men, very frightened.

• All of the men on my staff can type.

• I am not being facetious when I say that the real enemies in this country are the Pentagon and its pals in big business.

• The inside operation of Congress -- the deals, the compromises, the selling out, the co-opting, the unprincipled manipulating, the self-serving career-building -- is a story of such monumental decadence that I believe if people find out about it they will demand an end to it.

About Bella Abzug, by colleague Mim Kelber: She was honored for her championship of the world’s women, human rights, the poor and oppressed, and most of all for her people-nurturing vision of a healthy, peaceful planet.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2010. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Bella Abzug Quotes." About Women's History. URL: . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)