7 Great Feminist Moments from Past Oscars Speeches

Awards season is in full swing and next on the agenda is the glamorous, controversial and #SoWhite Academy Awards.

In honor of the Oscars’ more inclusive moments, we’ve rounded up a few of the most memorable feminist acceptance speeches of our time.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

—Patricia Arquette, Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, 2015

“Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s…When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.”

—Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave, 2014

In her Oscar acceptance speech, Cate Blanchett chastised those in Hollywood “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences…They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”

—Cate Blanchett, Best Actress for Blue Jasmine, 2014

Halle Berry was the first woman of color to win Best Actress, and didn’t shy away from making note of that. “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance, because this door tonight has been opened.”

—Halle Berry, Best Actress for Monster’s Ball, 2002

Emma Thompson thanks executive producer Syndney Pollack, “for asking all the right questions, like ‘why couldn’t these women go out and get a job?’ Why, indeed.”

—Emma Thompson, Best Adapted Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, 1996

Sandra Bullock individually praised each of the other contenders for the Best Actress award before acknowledging “the moms who take cares of the babies and the children no matter where they come from.” She ended her speech with a moving tribute to her late mother.

—Sandra Bullock, Best Actress for The Blind Side, 2010

“I want to thank the Academy for this honor [to work] on a film on the abortion subject and Miramax for having the courage to make this movie in the first place … and to everyone at Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights League.”

—John Irving, Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules, 2000

Get Ms. in your inbox! Click here to sign up for the Ms. magazine newsletter.



Lily Wujek is currently a student at Bennington College and an editorial intern at Ms.