Can You Identify These Feminist Icons?



By: Marie Hullett

7 Min Quiz

Image: JPM / Images Source / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The fight for feminism began long before the "We Should All be Feminists" T-shirts found on city sidewalks across the globe. Over the centuries, women worked tirelessly to earn the right to vote, to receive an education, to file for divorce, to work outside the home, even to own property. Despite considerable progress, there's a long way to go, so women and their allies march onward. 

We march for equal pay, political power and reproductive rights. We fight against sexual assault and domestic violence, workplace discrimination and lack of maternity leave. We fight against everything from gendered dress-codes to cat-calls to genital mutilation. With each day, in spite of backlash, we grow louder and prouder. 

So, how well do you know your feminist icons of the past and present? Can you identify modern-day icons like Malala Yousafzai and Roxane Gay, Angela Davis and bell hooks? What about early trailblazers like Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Blackwell, Phillis Wheatley and Susan B. Anthony? You'll have to take the following quiz to find out. 

Of course, these are just some of the women we know about. Throughout history, many women's ideas were stifled, stolen or rewritten. As the saying goes, "Behind every great woman is a man waiting to take credit for her ideas." Wait, that's how that goes, right? 

The Pakistani activist pictured here is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate of all time. Do you know who she is?

A fierce advocate for human rights advocacy and the education of women, 21-year-old Malala Yousafzai is truly a modern-day feminist icon. Though she started by promoting education in her native Swat Valley, where the Taliban banned girls from school, her impact has since stretched worldwide.


This American woman played a fundamental role in the 20th century suffrage movement. Who is she?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, which historians often deem the first women's rights and suffrage movement in the U.S. She headed the National American Woman Suffrage Association and also was as a prominent abolitionist.


This Australian writer served as a vital voice in the second-wave feminist movement. Do you know her name?

Germaine Greer's 1970 book, "The Female Eunuch," sparked considerable controversy at its release and still remains relevant to this day. In the book, Greer argues that women are forced to serve submissive roles in society in order to fulfill male fantasies.


The American woman featured here described herself as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." She was also a prominent feminist and civil rights activist in the 20th century. Who is she?

Audre Lorde's extensive collection of poetry and prose explores issues like feminism, lesbianism and civil rights. She also discussed the lack of intersectional feminism in the U.S., an issue that remains contentious and relevant to this day. In one famous statement, she specifically addressed those "who stand outside the circle of society's definition of acceptable women."


This highly influential feminist activist and academic authored a groundbreaking book on gender, race and class. What's her name?

bell hooks' 1981 book "Ain't I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism" criticized the rampant racism in second-wave feminism. She also wrote several more vital works, including the extremely popular 2000 book, "Feminism is for Everybody," which calls for unity to combat inequality.


This woman's best-selling 2014 book, "Bad Feminist," discusses the intersection of feminism and race, location, history, heritage and religion. Can you identify her?

Roxane Gay's collection of essays also explores what it means to be a feminist while simultaneously enjoying things that may seem contradictory to this ideology. She also encourages people to stop deriding feminism when it falls short of society's expectations; instead, criticize the "flawed people who act in the name of the movement."


A friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and key figure in the women's rights movement, who is the woman featured here?

Born into a Quaker family, Susan B. Anthony founded several women's rights and anti-slavery institutions. In 1872, police arrested Anthony for voting in Rochester, NY. In response, Anthony and Stanton organized the presentation of an amendment granting women the right to vote, which Congress introduced. In 1920, it became the 19th Amendment.


This French feminist's 1949 book rocked the world. Who is she?

Simone de Beauvoir's magnum opus, "The Second Sex," explored the subordination of women and woman as "the other." Her famous quote, "One is not born a woman, but becomes one," remains highly cited in contemporary trans-feminist theory.


This 86-year-old supreme court judge has been advocating for gender equality for a long, long time. What's her name?

One of the only women in her law school classes, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, also known as the "Notorious R.B.G.," has become among the most highly respected justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout her legal career, she strategically and effectively combated a number of gender discrimination cases, changing the law one step at a time. Her trick? She often selected male plaintiffs as a way to convince (mostly male) judges how gender discrimination harms both men and women.


Previously falsely attributed to various celebrities, the woman pictured here is the true founder of the #MeToo movement. Who is she?

Activist and grassroots organizer Tarana Burke has worked tirelessly throughout her life to support victims of sexual assault. She started the viral #MeToo movement, which continues to enormously impact cultural discussion and actionable measures surrounding assault. She currently directs Girls for Gender Equality and in 2017, she became one of Time's people of the year.


This Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist once said, "Activism is my rent for living on the planet." Can you identify her?

Author of "The Color Purple" and prominent activist Alice Walker played a fundamental role in the civil rights and radical feminism movements of the '60s and '70s. In 1983, Walker used the term "womanist," which she said means "A black feminist or feminist of color."


This famous Mexican artist is often hailed as a feminist hero. Who is she?

Frida Kahlo's acclaimed works often explored issues related to identity, gender, race, class and post-colonialism. In the 1970s, her early 20th-century works were rediscovered and revered by Chicanos, the LGBTQ community and feminists for her unflinching portrayals of her experience as a female, indigenous and disabled woman.


This Egyptian writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist has been called the "Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World." Who is she?

A childhood victim of female genital mutilation, Nawal El Saadawi has campaigned against the horrific practice for decades. She has also written several books on the topic of women in Islam, heads the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, and co-founded the Arab Association for Human Rights.


This prominent American feminist once famously said, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." Who is she?

Feminist, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem served as a spokesperson in the '60s and '70s feminist movement. She co-founded the feminist publication Ms. magazine and wrote several columns for New York magazine. Her 1969 article "After Black Power, Women's Liberation," propelled her to international acclaim. Today, at age 85, Steinem continues to lecture about equality.


Can you name this feminist British author, journalist and critic?

In the 1920s through the '40s, suffragist Rebecca West earned high acclaim for her writing, which included several bold pieces on feminism and socialism. "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is," West once admitted, "I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."


This Nobel Peace Prize winner is a prolific Burmese pro-democracy leader. What's her name?

Kyi currently is the first and incumbent State Counsellor of Myanmar, which is similar to a prime minister role. She also heads the National League for Democracy and became the first woman to serve in several high-ranking roles in the nation, including Minister for Foreign Affairs. "In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued," Aung San Suu Kyi once said.


This Canadian novelist has become particularly renowned for her sci-fi, feminist literature. Who is she?

Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" quickly became considered a feminist classic. While many debate Atwood's stance on feminism, the author herself once said, "Does feminist mean large, unpleasant person who'll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings? To me it's the latter, so I sign up."


This British novelist, short story writer and journalist is best known for her 1979 work "The Bloody Chamber." Can you name this author?

Angela Carter's critically praised fiction is often called feminist and magical realist. She often wrote spinoffs of fairytales, including "The Bloody Chamber," which is a series of updated takes on European classics like "Little Red Riding Hood."


This feminist punk band has made global news headlines more than once. Can you name them?

Moscow-based Pussy Riot members are outspoken advocates for feminism, LGBTQ rights and opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. They have staged several guerrilla performances over the years. In 2012, Russian police arrested three members due to a performance staged inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They have since been released on amnesty.


Here is a Nobel Prize winning British-Zimbabwean novelist. Who is she?

Doris Lessing's 1962 magnum opus, "The Golden Notebook," has often been hailed as a feminist text, and in 2007, she became the 11th woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. While many debate her feminist identity, critics often read her works through that lens. Of her Nobel Prize, she said, "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush."


This woman has fought for feminism since the 1960s. Who is she?

In 1970, political activist and university lecturer Angela Davis served 18 months in jail for aiding in the attempted escape of imprisoned black radical George Jackson, which led to activists across the states sporting "Free Angela" tees. She has also been a vocal feminist, once stating, "Feminism involves so much more than gender has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post-colonialities."


Can you name this important early 20th century author?

Virginia Woolf published several acclaimed novels and essays, including the 1927 feminist work "A Room of One's Own," based on lectures she gave at the women's constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge. In the essay, she states that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."


This woman delivered a famous speech in 1851 on women's rights entitled "Ain't I a Woman?" which inspired the work of bell hooks. Can you successfully name her?

Born into slavery in 1797, Sojourner Truth escaped with her infant daughter to the free state of New York in 1826. In 1828, she successfully fought in court to recover her son, which made her the first black woman to win a legal case in opposition to a white man. Truth famously said, ""If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them."


This actor and activist valiantly fights for LGBTQ rights and gender equality. Can you name her?

"Orange is the New Black" star Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender person to win a Daytime Emmy, to receive an Emmy nomination for acting and to be featured on the cover of Time and Cosmopolitan. "I've never been interested in being invisible and erased," Cox said.


You probably see this 29-year-old U.S. congresswoman's face in the news fairly frequently. Who is she?

In spite of the ire she receives, Ocasio-Cortez has fought tirelessly to combat the status quo and to advocate for women and minorities. She proudly wore Suffragette white to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address, brought feminist activist Ana Maria Archilla as her date, and sported a badge that said: "Well-behaved women seldom make history."


Can you identify this 15th century French court writer?

At a time when society viewed writing as a near unfathomable occupation for a woman, Christine de Pizan authored several novels, served as an important political thinker and moralist, and worked as a court writer during the reign of Charles VI. Her famous 1405 novel, "The Book of the City of Ladies," challenges the era's rife misogyny in its depiction of a fictional city where important historical women lived.


This award-winning writer, physician and feminist from Pakistan endured violent attacks by fundamentalist groups in the '90s for her activism. Who is she?

Taslima Nasrin received her medical degree in Bangladesh and soon after published several books of poetry and prose that often explored the theme of female oppression. In response to her criticism of Islam, hundreds of thousands marched in the streets demanding her execution, causing her to seek exile in Sweden. Since then, she has remained a prolific writer and activist, but not without considerable blowback.


Can you name this iconic American poet and novelist?

After her death at age 30, Sylvia Plath received widespread acclaim for her groundbreaking "confessional" poetry and 1963 novel, "The Bell Jar," both of which are often interpreted through a feminist lens. She once said that "Apparently, the most difficult feat for a Cambridge male is to accept a woman not merely as feeling, not merely as thinking, but as managing a complex, vital interweaving of both."


This Nigerian author and activist became particularly famous for her book-length essay and TEDx talk "We Should All be Feminists" in 2012. Who is she?

Though she was widely criticized for comments she made on transgender women (that seemed to suggest that she doesn't deem them "real women"), Adichie nonetheless remains a very high-profile and influential feminist. She has published several acclaimed novels, tirelessly advocated for gender equality and LGBTQ rights and, in 2008, received a MacArthur Genius Grant. Of trans women, she has since clarified that "of course they are women."


In 1843, this Scottish writer published the influential book "A Plea for Woman." Can you name this author?

Reid's book argued for the advancement of women, including the right to vote and to equality in education, for the benefit of all humanity. "It is designed to show that social equality with man is necessary for the free growth and development of a woman's nature," she said.


This extremely influential civil rights leader and feminist has all too often been overlooked in American history. Who is she?

Coretta Scott King was a longtime, persistent advocate for women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. She played a central role in founding the National Organization for Women, and at the time she met her future husband, she was more politically active than he was, according to MLK's biographer. "I am made to sound like an attachment to a vacuum cleaner," King said, "The wife of Martin, then the widow of Martin, all of which I was proud to be. But I was never just a wife, nor a widow."


This American writer and activist was the first woman to receive a doctorate from Yale; she also became the first black woman to be ordained a priest. What's her name?

In 1977, Murray made history by becoming the first to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. She also was a prolific lawyer and author, always fighting for the advancement for women's rights and civil rights. Her 1950 book, "States' Laws on Race and Color," has been called a civil rights "bible." Alongside the likes of Coretta Scott King, she also co-founded the National Organization of Women.


Who is this British radical feminist, LGBTQ activist and businesswoman?

Linda Bellos played a particularly important role in the radical feminist movement of the '70s and '80s. As a lesbian feminist, she argued for women's issues that take into account social class, ethnic identity, sexual identity, religion and disability. At the time, this approach was unpopular. From 1986 to 1988, she served as a labor councillor to Lambeth London Borough Council, making her the second black woman to lead a British local authority.


Though this woman is best known for writing "Little Women," she also fought exhaustively for equal rights. Do you know who it is?

This renowned 19th century writer also fought against slavery and women's inequality. She held suffrage meetings and became the first woman to register to vote in her Concord, Massachusetts' town's school election, paving the way for other women to do so. "So hard to move people out of the old ruts," Alcott said. She also attended the Women's Congress of 1875.


This woman helped kick-start second-wave feminism. Who is she?

Another co-founder of the National Organizer for Women, Betty Friedan sparked commotion with her 1963 book "The Feminine Mystique." The book dismantled the widely propagated myth that women wanted to stay at home, which helped fuel an entire movement.


Many revere this woman as "America's first feminist." Do you know her name?

Nineteenth century journalist, author and critic Margaret Fuller organized groups for women who were denied access to higher education. In 1843, she also wrote "Woman in the Nineteenth Century," which many laud as the nation's first feminist text. In the work, Fuller claimed that humanity was on the brink of an awakening that would call for women and men to be equals.


This 18th century English feminist writer was deemed extremely controversial at the time. Who is she?

Writer, philosopher and women's rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft abandoned her governess position to write, had a baby out of wedlock, and when she did marry, opted to live in a house next to her husband's—all of which was nearly unheard-of at the time. Her 1792 magnum opus, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman," argued that women are not inferior to men, but may appear to be because they are denied education. "I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves," Wollstonecraft said.


This woman continues to rake in the grand slam titles and headlines. Can you name this record-breaking tennis player and activist?

Serena Williams holds the Open Era record with 23 grand slam singles titles, making her the greatest tennis player of our time. She also serves as an outspoken advocate for gender equality, particularly for women of color, and for body positivity. "As we known, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path," Williams said. "I hope together we can change that."


This American woman coined the term "birth control" in the early 20th century. What's her name?

In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the nation's first birth control clinic. For speaking publicly about contraception, police arrested her at least eight times. "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body," Sanger said. "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."


This author wrote the best-selling 1990 book "The Beauty Myth." Can you name her?

Many hail Wolf's book as a benchmark of third-wave feminism. In the work, Wolf argued that women's increased social power led to more emphasis on female appearance as a way to continue to subordinate women. "A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience," Wolf said.


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