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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 >>

Reconciling belief in women's progress with belief in traditional gender roles

As Boyd remembers nineteenth-century women activists, she reiterates her distaste for women who step outside traditional gender roles. She tries to reconcile this feeling with her admiration for successful female pioneers in professional and political fields. She describes the enshrinement of women as adored objects, a position that excludes them from the male political world.

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

I wonder if you ever met or heard about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or of the activities of Carrie Chapman Catt, and what were your impressions of what they were doing? What you thought about her.
Oh yes, yes. These were great women in the woman's movement around 1848, 1850 and so forth. I was quite fascinated by what they did. I was also interested in the fact that some of the husbands supported these women although some were critical. They did have some male support. They were very stalwart women. They were strong and had convictions and courage. As I say, I've always been a feminine woman and I don't appreciate a woman who takes to the streets. I don't appreciate a woman who dresses like a man. I don't appreciate a woman who tries to flaunt her sex before the men. I just believe in a woman being a person and being herself and winning the respect of men and women because of the things she stands for, the things that she believes in, and the things she does. I could never have been one of those suffragettes.
I understand that Mrs. Catt was indeed very feminine.
Some of them, I'm sure, were.
Yet she was a leader of this remarkable movement. She had tremendous political savvy.
Of course I really admired Dr. Blackwell the first woman doctor. I admired women who became lawyers in the early period, too. In regard to women assuming responsibilities in the colonial and early American periods according to some books that were written by Elizabeth Anthony Dexter of Boston, women could do anything they wanted to-in the colonial era-economically, professionally, mainly in running a farm or a plantation or running an inn or having a millinery shop. Women could do most anything they wanted to do and they helped the men build the country, build the colonies, build the society, the civilization. But, in the nineteenth century, she claims, men began to think that women had some positions they wanted and women were too active, that their role was entirely too equal to that of the male. So as population increased and we had more men wanting positions, wanting opportunity, wanting the leadership,they began to talk about women being the weaker sex, women being the gentle sex, women needing the protection of men, women being so lovely that they must be worshipped on a pedestal. Men's selfishness, she thought, pushed women out of innkeeping and pushed them out of running plantations, pushed them out of their own little businesses, and took over. Then they gave the woman the feeling of being adored and of being beautiful and of being wanted.