A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
An illustration of the famous quote: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

Variations of this quote have been around almost as long as the bicycle itself. These days this feminist slogan has been attributed to Irina Dunn in 1970. But…

The origin seems to be a derivative of an earlier form:

God needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.


This is perhaps the earliest version of the “fish needs a bicycle” quote.

The place [Aragon, Spain] didn’t need an American consul any more than a cow needs a bicycle; for it had no trade with America, and no American tourist ever dreamed of stopping there.

The Hartford Courant, A Connecticut newspaper, 1898. Credit.

Try making a fun quote yourself.

Here’s the formula:
A needs B like C needs a bicycle.

Send us your quote inspired by “a fish needs a bicycle” and we’ll post it here. Or leave a comment below.

More variations from earlier times

A man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle. ~ , 1958.

Man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle ~ .

In recent times, the Quote Investigator did a much better job deconstructing this quote than I did. See the full breakdown of “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Spoiler alert, the quote investigator attributes this to graffiti on a wall as reported by a newspaper.

We found this anonymous contribution to International Women’s Year on a wall at Forest Lodge: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, January, 1975.

Modern twists

It seems people like their freedom from needing anything as evident in these variations.

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

People need government like a mouse needs a cat. ~

And, perhaps, my favorite of them all.

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I really hate this expression. I bet fish would totally want bicycles.

Meg Cabot, Princess on the Brink.

In pop culture

Nothin’ much to say I guess
You’re just the same as all the rest
Been tryin’ to throw your arms around the world
And a woman needs a man
Like a fish needs a bicycle
When you’re tryin’ to throw your arms around the world
I’m gonna run to you, run to you, run to you.

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