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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Rosamonde R. Boyd, October 29, 1973. Interview G-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Elite women tend more toward activism because they have financial security

In this excerpt, Boyd explains how security drives women's political decisions. She argues that appeals to high ideals of equality would not spur women mill workers to support suffrage. But if these workers believed that the vote could help them secure better wages and thus better lives for their families, they were likely to support the idea. Boyd also believes that only single, professional women support the Equal Rights Amendment because married women worry that it will erode their husbands' breadwinning ability.

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:
Do you remember how, if at all, an appeal was pitched to support the movement for the nineteenth amendment to working class women, to mill women, if there indeed was such an appeal?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
If there was, I don't see how it could have been very congenial to them.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Why not?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
Do you think that it was because they might have wanted equal opportunities in the mill and equal income in the mill and that sort of thing?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
But I think that the appeal would have had to be on that level rather than just appealing to them to vote. If mill women were stimulated by this sort of appeal, it might be because they could add to the male vote to win for working people shorter hours of work and higher wages, bargaining power, et cetera. That could have been the approach to them. But if it's just an approach of emancipating women and getting women to vote and run for office, it was too opposed to what they had known in their own homes in childhood and what they found in their own homes in adulthood. I think it would have been too foreign to their way of thinking. If the appeal had come to them as standing shoulder to shoulder to increase their husband's vote by one and then to add up the voting strength of married people in the mill, this might have appealed to them. For single women in industry, I think it might have had an appeal to be promoted as quickly as a man to make as high wages. There could have been different approaches.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
One critic of the suffrage movement has deplored the lack of emphasis on working class women and said, "the stress was on matriarchy in the home rather than on equality on the job, and the movement was not interested in the single working woman." You agree with this? That this was the case?
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
Yes, I really do. I really think so. The matriarchy and not the single woman. Today the situation is rather reversed. The single woman wants the equal rights amendment if she's a professional or business woman and a property owner. The majority of women below that level just don't. I don't think the married woman is too interested in the Equal Rights Amendment. Now it is the single business and professional woman who wants the equal rights amendment.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Those that I know that are actively working for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment are married professional women.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
But they are professional women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
For the most part. I would say that secretaries are . . . .
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
Too many of the home maker married women who are not working and not professional think that this would maybe be harmful to them because it might remove their security or support. It might be detrimental to them. But the business and professional woman, single or married, can see great advantage to her in the Equal Rights Amendment.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes, and every home maker should, if she's interested in her daughters' futures.
ROSAMONDE R. BOYD:
I think she should, too.