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)

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Bella Abzug Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2015, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2015, August 26). Bella Abzug Quotes. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Bella Abzug Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 25, 2017).