Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Rosamonde R. Boyd, October 29, 1973. Interview G-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Erosion of gender roles is not entirely a good thing

In this excerpt, Boyd discusses gender roles. She thinks they arose somewhat naturally, and while she thinks modern education is whittling away at them, she worries that too much of an erosion is a bad thing: for example, she does not like the idea of women in pants.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Rosamonde R. Boyd, October 29, 1973. Interview G-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CONSTANCE MYERS:
How do you find that this matter of roles came into being?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
I think the matter of roles came into being with the first population group. You can't have any group living together without somebody becoming the leader and somebody becoming a follower, somebody having the ideas. Take the small group; there's usually an idea man; there's usually an administrator found in the group; there's a leader found in the group; there's somebody who just keeps the group in a good humor, the fun person. (interruption) MIDDLE SIDE II TAPE I
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
I think roles came in the very beginning and have been with us ever since. In other words, we all have a part to play in every group to which we belong and we have a position in every group to which we belong.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
In a social group in which a woman demonstrates strong leadership capabilities and yet there was a man also with strong leadership capabilities, do you think that woman out of second nature would assume the subordinate position to the man? Suppose they had equal leadership capabilities?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
That would depend upon the woman. She might become a little angry with the man trying to usurp this place and might then put forth greater effort. Other women particularly if they wanted the favor of that one man or if there were other people in an audience, might yield. I think it would be an individual matter.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you think that this matter of sex roles is perpetuated in the elementary school as people in the women's movement are now saying? It's inculcated virtually in the nursery and reinforced in the elementary school through the readers and what not?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
I think that this is true:we still are in a man's world. We start very early in thinking that boys can play with trains and motor cars, play with war toys and things of this sort, and that the girls will play with dolls. But, I think, in our schools we are getting away from that rather early now because we are bringing girls into all kinds of athletic activities as well as the boys. The boys are certainly called upon to engage in art work and to write little essays and various things that the girls are doing. I don't think that there is in the public school as much delineation of the male and female roles any more.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Perhaps not, with the wiping out of the requirement for shop for boys and home-ec for the girls.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
But you know, I'd want some difference in roles for the simple reason that I don't like to see men wearing pale pink and pale blue and letting their hair grow long and go to beauty parlors and look effeminate. Neither do I like to see women in pants, except a few women and except a few stunning outfits that maybe would be too expensive for the majority of women. Others put on these cheap pants and just look deplorable. Then, you don't seem to command the respect of others when you are so slouchy. I had just rather that women would dress like women and women would be feminine rather than trying to wipe out all the divisions between the male and the female. I don't even like this idea of addressing a woman ‘Ms.’. I'd rather they'd make a mistake and think I was ‘Miss’ rather than ‘Mrs..’
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Oh, I made an error. I addressed your postcard ‘Ms.’.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
You did?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Some of the women I've been interviewing welcome this innovation.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
No, I don't. I don't welcome that. Another thing I don't like, I think it's too artificial to speak of a chairperson. “Chairman”; is a general term and it can apply to women as well as to men. I think that's going to an extreme.