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Anna Quindlen Quotes

Anna Quindlen (July 8, 1952 - )


Journalist, novelist, writer.

A syndicated columnist for the New York Times and later a contributing editor and columnist for Newsweek, Anna Quindlen began her career in more traditional reporting assignments, moving to a column about New York daily life, and then writing her long-running bi-weekly column while spending more time at home raising three children. Anna Quindlen has also written novels, non-fiction books, and children's books. She is notable for her ruminations on life from the perspective of a woman.

Selected Anna Quindlen Quotations

• It's important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It's the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It's the way we talk about and treat one another. It's who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It's a state of mind. It's the way we live now.

• Just as we fooled ourselves that the end of discriminatory laws would soon lead to racial harmony, so we thought that increased access to education, advancement and male-only arenas would erase the attitudes that have led some men to treat women like children, fools and punching bags.

• I think women are superior to men.

• Women are the glue that holds our day-to-day world together.

• But never fear, gentlemen; castration was really not the point of feminism, and we women are too busy eviscerating one another to take you on.

• I came to the realization that there were certain public issues that were most usefully dealt with within some sort of framework of at least my private beliefs, if not my private life.

• These trees don't make a forest.

• The truth about your own life is not always easy to accept, and sometimes hasn't even occurred to you.

• I think of a column as having a conversation with a person that it just so happens I can't see.

• My only real political identification has been with women's rights.

• I would even go to Washington, which is saying something for me, just to glimpse Jane Q. Public, being sworn in as the first female president of the United States, while her husband holds the Bible and wears a silly pill box hat and matching coat.

• Otherness posits that there are large groups of people with whom you have nothing in common, not even a discernible shared humanity. Not only are these groups profoundly different from you, they are also, covertly, somehow less: Less worthy. Less moral. Less good. This sense of otherness is the single most pernicious force in American discourse. The not-like-us ethos makes so much bigotry possible: Racism, sexism, homophobia. It divides the country as surely as the Mason-Dixon line once did. And it makes for mean-spirited and punitive politics and social policy.

• Only the deepest sense that they are not like us, that they do not love or live or hurt like us, makes it possible to decree, as [Newt] Gingrich has, that one way to reform the welfare system is to deny aid to the children of mothers under 21 and build orphanages if they are rendered destitute.

• At the time of Anita Hill's testimony, a waitress told me of complaining to the manager of the coffee shop in which she worked about his smutty comments and intimate pats. He replied, "You're a skirt." Then he told her that if she didn't like it, there were plenty of other skirts out there who would take the job -- and the abuse. She needed the money and she got the message -- there is one standard for people, and there is another standard for skirts. This is the way the world works for many women: the boyfriend pops you in the eye, the boss feels you up.

• New York City has finally hired women to pick up the garbage, which makes sense to me, since, as I've discovered, a good bit of being a woman consists of picking up garbage.

• I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

• For most of my life the only ceremonies I've been to at which women were the stars were weddings. So I like weddings.

• I can't think of anything to write about except families. They are a metaphor for every other part of society.

• We want things to be easy for our children, and we know from sad experience that the world can be unkind to girls who do not please, who speak out, who go their own way. But we know from experience, too, that the role of the good girl can be a hollow one, with nothing at the center except other people's expectations where your character might have been.

• My kids keep trying to convince me that there are two separate parts of their stomachs, one dedicated to dinner and the other to dessert.

• (1992): Hillary Clinton was said to prefer the notion that two individuals together equaled two individuals. Folks said that made her an unnatural wife. To mitigate, she gave up her headbands and her speechifying. She couldn't give a speech at the Democratic Convention; people would have said she was ambitious and power mad, carrying, not her husband's genes, but her own agenda. But Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Quayle can afford to give convention speeches in prime time with no Madame Nhu spin because it's assumed they are there solely for their men, altruism still considered more attractive than ambition in a woman in some circles.

• (About Hillary Clinton): The woman who stays up late line-dancing to Motown music at the tail end of the state dinner for Nelson Mandela is in stark contrast to her dour Mother Courage image. Many Americans have underestimated how much of what they see in her is a complex reaction to the changes in the roles of women. And she has underestimated how much rancor is not a function of such gender confusion at all but a genuine disagreement with what she has done and how she has done it.

• One of the cruelest parts of being an out-of-work wife is the loss of identity. One woman says that what finally did her in was the name, the "Mrs. John Smith" on another woman's stationery.

• [Princess Diana], once an emblem of romantic love, now has become a representative of how horribly things sometimes turn out when a woman hitches all her hopes to one man's star, a lesson in the need for self-reliance and a life of one's own.

• The truth is that there's nothing sexy about nursing in public, a process that usually includes a deft disarrangement of garments and the weird stares of passersby and is quite like hiding a soccer ball beneath your shirt.

• When an actress takes off her clothes onscreen but a nursing mother is told to leave, what message do we send about the roles of women? In some ways we're as committed to the old madonna-whore dichotomy as ever. And the madonna stays home, feeding the baby behind the blinds, a vestige of those days when for a lady to venture out was a flagrant act of public exposure.

• Sometimes a breast is a sexual object, and sometimes it's a food delivery system, and one need not preclude nor color the other. "A unique gland, an underestimated gland," one scientist who is studying breast-feeding enthused recently. Less sexy words were never spoken. And with good reason.

• A collision of two female cultures may have resulted in the sudden glut of book groups in recent years: the women's movement insisted that we do something, be something, use our minds as well as our hearts, while in daily life many of us were still surrounded by the mundane, the sink full of dishes, the car pools, the endless flotsam and jetsam of children. A book group provides one small way for the two selves to coexist: a carefully scheduled occasion for intellectual exercise leavened with female companionship.

• There's a certain kind of conversation you have from time to time at parties in New York about a new book. The word "banal" sometimes rears its by-now banal head; you say "underedited," I say "derivative." The conversation goes around and around various literary criticisms, and by the time it moves on one thing is clear: No one read the book; we just read the reviews.

• There is a kind of quilt called a friendship quilt, but I imagine all of mine, no matter what their pattern, are emblems of female friendship, that essential thread that has so often kept the pieces of my own life together, and from time to time kept me from falling apart.

• I know the difference now between dedication and infatuation. That doesn't mean I don't still get an enormous kick out of infatuation: the exciting ephemera, the punch in the stomach, the adrenaline to the heart.

• I feel that I have not got the self-image down, what one of my friends calls "The Look." It's not that I should know how to dress; I should know who I'm dressing. But when I group my clothing according to the traits conveyed, my closet looks like a convention of multiple-personality cases.

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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 1997-2005. 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. "Anna Quindlen Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/anna_quindlen.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)

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