A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that women are independent and capable? You could use the saying “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” to show them that you don’t need a man in your life to succeed. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The feminist slogan, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” means that women don’t need to rely on men to achieve what they want in life.

Example Usage

“I left my husband on the weekend. I can’t take him anymore. You know what they say, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

“My boyfriend dumped me on Valentine’s day for someone else. Oh well, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

“Why do you think you need a man to help you out in life? A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

“I asked this cute girl at the store if she wanted to go out on a date. She said no, and that women need a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

“I ran into this crazy feminist at the park. I asked her why she thinks she doesn’t need a man. She told me a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

Origin

Gloria Steinem often receives credit for this feminist slogan. However, it was coined by Irina Dunn circa 1970. Gloria wrote to Time Magazine in 2000 after they incorrectly credited her for the phrase.

“In your note on my new and happy marital partnership with David Bale, you credit me with the witticism ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist, and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, ‘Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.’ Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”

Irina Dunn confirmed Steinem’s letter in 2002, where she wrote.

“Yes, indeed, I am the one Gloria referred to. I was paraphrasing from a phrase I read in a philosophical text I was reading for my Honours year in English Literature and Language in 1970.”

Phrases Similar to A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle

  • All men are bastards.

Phrases Opposite to A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle

  • Women and men are parts of the same puzzle.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

Ways People May Say A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with fish and bicycles. It’s a way of saying that a man is totally useless to a woman.

Women can get everything they need in their lives without a man handing it to them. The fish and bicycle is a comparison to how little a fish needs a bicycle, just like a woman doesn’t really need a man.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

You can use the phrase “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” in a feminist conversation where you’re berating men and their role in women’s lives.

It’s a derogatory statement to men and a way of saying that women are independent and don’t need the man’s traditional role in their lives as the breadwinner and protector in a family.

The phrase suits social use in situations like feminist rallies or when women joke with friends about men and their relationships. Single and married women can use the saying, and it comes with varying degrees of severity in the tone and connotation of the expression.

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