In looking at quotes from history that speak positively of women and move beyond looks, I think that there is going to be a focus on women who saw their own voices silenced and sought to transcend it. One such quote would be from Virginia Woolf, who one said "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” This speaks to the idea that while women have been denied educational opportunity and access, this is not the condition that defines them. Woolf's quote speaks to the power of the human mind, and one that affirms that women's intellectual power is just as, if not more, rigorous than that of men.
Another quote would be from Margaret Thatcher. The "Iron Lady" said "In politics, If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” This quote speaks positively of women, clearly suggesting that women in government are focused on completion of tasks and ensuring that change is realized in the political realm. Eleanor Roosevelt was not one to be overshadowed by her husband, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The First Lady said “I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” This quote speaks positively of women because it helps to define how the past conditions which limit and deny are not reflective of what can or should be. The quote articulates how women are powerful enough to "live life" and not "turn" one's back on it.
Finally, when looking at quotes that speak positively about women, one cannot but help to go to Susan B. Anthony. One of America's first progressive thinkers and voices demanded equality between the genders: “The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race." Women are "peers" to men. They are equal to them and Anthony's quote affirms that women's roles must be seen as equal in scope and depth to that of men. Sons and fathers are on the same level as mothers and daughters. In all of these quotes, women are referred to in a positive light. They are not cast into any particular valence because of their looks. External and superficial constructs do not define what it means to be a woman. Each quote attests to how women are equal to me and how this embedded sense of reciprocity must define the way in which both genders treat one another and view themselves.
Here are some inspirational quotes:
“Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”
– Margaret Thatcher
“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.”
— Margaret Sanger
"It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent."
— Madeleine Albright
“Women hold up half the sky.”
— Chinese proverb
“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”
― Anaïs Nin
“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”
— Nancy Rathburn