Interviewees: Ranelle Funk
IWY TX 185
Interviewer: Lydia Kleiner
Date: November 18-21, 1977
Ranelle Funk, of Louisville, Kentucky, was the president of Concerned Citizens of Louisville. Her organization was affiliated with the Eagle Forum and Stop ERA. Funk was a speech pathologist by training. At the time of the NWC, she was a homemaker. Interview includes discussion of Funk’s experiences organizing in the conservative women’s movement in Louisville and her critiques of the National Organization for Women. She was anti-ERA and anti-abortion.
Lydia Kleiner: Could you give me your name?
Ranelle Funk: I’m Ranelle Funk from Louisville, Kentucky. I’m president of Concerned Citizens of Louisville. We are a local organization that’s affiliated with Eagle Forum, Stop ERA, and Concerned Women of Kentucky, which is the state organization opposing the ERA and most of the radical feminist goals such as abortion on demand and government-funded childcare centers, that kind of thing.
LK: When did this organization form?
RF: We began about two years ago as a result of the regular session of the state House and Senate. Kentucky ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, and we had a group of women who worked very diligently to attempt to rescind that ratification. As a result of our work together, we decided it would be beneficial for all of us if we formed an organization. So Concerned Citizens of Louisville has been in operation for almost two years.
LK: And your goals are—?
RF: Number one goal at the present time is rescission of the Equal Rights Amendment in Kentucky; we plan to do that this session. Kentucky only meets in regular session every two years, and it’ll start up again in January.
LK: Have you always been politically active?
RF: Oh no, not at all. As a matter of fact, up until about three years ago, I didn’t even know what ERA meant. I thought it was Earned Run Average or a laundry detergent [laughs]. Someone asked me about it, and I—like most people—thought that it meant equal pay for equal work. And I began to investigate and found out that it has absolutely nothing to do with equal pay. We are already guaranteed equal pay; there are adequate laws, and the Equal Rights Amendment will not add anymore laws guaranteeing equal pay. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that it was really the radical feminists’ goals that these people were pushing for, not equal pay; that’s kind of a smokescreen.
LK: What do you do? Are you a homemaker?
RF: Yes. I am.
LK: Were you a homemaker at that time?
RF: I was at that time; I have worked off and on. I’m a speech pathologist by profession, and I have worked when I needed. But raising my family has been my primary goal in life.
LK: How many children do you have?
RF: Just one. (Laughs) Almost got her raised. I probably will go back to work when she goes to college; I’m not against the working woman at all.
LK: What I was wondering is how you moved into the political arena.
RF: Well, it was the fact that I guess I’m the kind of person who, when I believe in something, I feel like I have to stand up for it; I can do nothing else; I would be miserable not standing up for what I believe in. And I believe in the home; I believe in the family; I believe in our right to be a nation that believes in God. And I think these things are being threatened.
LK: You’re the president of the organization?
LK: Is there any problem with a woman being president? Some of the literature I’ve read suggests that only men should be heads of organizations as, you know, Christ was head.
RF: Oh, I see. No, I don’t see any problem with that at all. We are not a church-related organization. We all believe in God, but we have members of our organization who are of varying religions.
Personally, I’m not in favor of ordination of women, and I would not take a leadership role in a church because I believe that’s not what God intended. But I don’t think that in any way hampers a woman from taking a leadership position in other organizations.
LK: Could you tell me what your own background is? What year you were born and where and?
RF: Okay. (Laughs) I was born in Ruston, Louisiana in 1941. I have a master’s degree in speech pathology. I am married. My husband has a Ph.D. in deaf education; he’s a supervisor of big hearing and speech programs in the schools of Louisville. I had worked in a rehabilitation center. I’ve worked in public schools.
LK: Did your mother work outside the home?
RF: My mother was a teacher, has recently retired.
LK: So you are in favor of women working….?
RF: Yes. I’m in favor of them having that choice; I would never take that choice away from them, and I resent laws being passed that would take the choice—or make it difficult for a woman to choose—to remain at home. I love my role as a homemaker; I think it’s fantastic and although I have worked, there are no rewards that are greater than those of being a wife and a mother.
LK: The other issues that have been mentioned are the abortion issue.
LK: And what is your opinion on that?
RF: I am not in favor of abortion. Our organization is not in favor of abortion either.
LK: It’s the position of—?
LK: Is it against abortion? I mean, it’s working…
RF: Yes. We are. As a matter of fact, just, oh, two or three weeks ago in Louisville, we had what we called a pro-family coalition that sponsored a pro-family rally in Louisville. We had around 2,000 people who attended. This was privately funded. We had more people there than they had at Kentucky IWY conference, and the resolutions that we passed were counter to the resolutions that were passed by IWY. We passed resolutions against abortion, against the Equal Rights Amendment, against pornography, against legalizing prostitution. Let’s see—that’s four, we had about seven—but they are essentially counter—.
LK: Sexual preference, was that mandatory?
RF: Yes. It was. We were against the legalization of homosexuality or homosexual relationships.
LK: What about jobs for people?
RF: We had one resolution that indicates that we believe problems should be controlled at a local level; we’re not in favor of anymore government funding for anything if it can be handled at a local level. We feel like the federal government needs to take care of defense and the major problems of the country, but they do not need to be at the local level. As you can see with Medicare (laughs) and the Postal Service and almost anything like that, they do not work effectively at the local level.
LK: Does your group have a position on national health insurance, for example?
RF: No. We have not studied that adequately.
LK: I assume that there is also a NOW chapter and opposition groups.
LK: How do you deal with those opposition groups? Do you ever relate to them at all or—?
RF: Well, you know, we feel like it’s kind of a shame that we can’t. I was on a television program with one of the National Organization for Women members, and they’re working on the Displaced Homemakers Act. I expressed a desire to read what they’re doing, and she’s never sent me a copy or called me or anything. I don’t think they really want us to work with them; they would like to control the ballgame.
Betty Wickham: Well, their handbook is very militant.
RF: Oh, right as far as their—.
BW: More people should be aware of what is in the NOW handbook.
LK: What things are militant in it?
BW: Well, they are—.
RF: (Unclear. BW and RF speaking at same time at 7:55) They oppose preference for veterans.
BW: They are opposed to—.
RF: They oppose women volunteering. They actually state in their book that that increases the woman’s second-class status if she volunteers with any kind of work. I don’t know why they are against veterans.
BW: They’re against the veteran men.
RF: Maybe, I guess, because they’re men?
They want to legalize homosexuality; they want to legalize abortion, and abortion on demand to them means abortion up to the ninth month. They place no restrictions whatsoever. Most people who are even in favor of abortion are not in favor of abortion past first trimester.
LK: How much time does your presidency take up now?
RF: Well, recently it’s taken quite a bit of time (laughs) working on the program and conference was a real big job.
LK: It’s the pro-family conference that you held in—?
RF: We held in Louisville.
LK: In Louisville.
RF: Right. Just—what? It was three weeks ago, Betty? It was October the 29th.
BW: October 29th. So that’d be about three weeks ago.
RF: Yeah. About three weeks ago.
LK: And then you also organized people to come to this?
RF: Yes. We encouraged people at that conference; we passed out resolutions and encouraged people to come.
As a matter of fact, we asked everyone who was there to have, say, ten copies of the resolutions duplicated and sent back in. I got a telephone call from a lady who lives in a small town just outside of Louisville last week, and she said she had some resolutions she’d like for me to bring. I said, “That’s fantastic. How many do you have?” She says, “Six hundred.” I was just elated (laughs). So we don’t know really how many resulted from that conference.
RF: But, it was quite a success. Phyllis Schlafly came and spoke to us and Dr. Carolyn Gerster who is the Chairman of the Board in National Right to Life with another nationally known speaker.
LK: Are people in your organization or are you personally involved in the Total Woman approach?
RF: I would love to go to one of those workshops. When they have one in Louisville, I’m going to go. (Laughs)
LK: But you haven’t gone to one yet?
RF: No. I have not. I am looking forward to attending one though.
LK: From what you’ve heard, it would sound interesting?
RF: Yes. I have not read Total Woman. I’ve read some excerpts from it, and I’m very anxious. I understand Total Joy is just really a really good book; I’m really anxious to—.
LK: I’ve heard about that.
RF: —read that.
LK: Who wrote that?
RF: Marabel Morgan.
LK: Oh she did this one.
RF: Yes. It’s a follow-up book to Total Woman.
LK: I see. Could you tell me what you think about femininity altogether? And were you there for the speech where—?
RF: Oh no. I couldn’t get in to see it. (Laughs) I couldn’t understand it.
LK: The speaker suggested that one of the biggest problems was elimination of gender distinctions: womanation of the men and separation—.
RF: Oh. Yeah. I think—.
LK: Is that your opinion also?
RF: Oh, yeah. I think this is a real problem. I think it’s kind of obvious that that’s what the push is; that that’s what the feminist—the libers—would like to do: eliminate the differences between men and women. And I think that is a vital distinction.
I enjoy being a woman; I don’t want to be a man. I don’t envy a man anything that he does. (Laughs) I’m perfectly happy being a woman.
LK: Do you think those differences can be eliminated?
RF: No. Not really.
LK: I mean, what is the danger?
RF: It’s possible that they can eliminate them legally, and they’re going to cause a lot of problems when they do that. It is not possible to eliminate them biologically or physically; we’re just not made that way. I do think legally it is possible that they could eliminate them, and I think it would be disastrous.
LK: What do you feel about women and girls in sports?
RF: Well, I tell you, right now in Louisville girls and boys have a choice in the high school: they can either play football together or they can play soccer together. And the girls hate it. The boys take over. The girls have trouble, naturally, with football and soccer both. The boys are more physically able to play. I had one of the girls recently come up to me—I don’t see her very often—and say, “I want to know what you’re going to do; I have to play football with the boys.” And she’s wanting me to do something about it. I don’t know how to fight HEW.
LK: There’s no separate class for—?
We’re on a quarter system, and the kiddos take P.E. one quarter out of their high school year. It’s every day that one quarter. Possibly, if we had [an] every other day kind of thing, it might be a little bit better.
LK: What are your goals for the coming year with your organization?
RF: Well, our organization’s number one goal is rescission of the Equal Rights Amendment. We also have as a goal to block or to prevent the state of Kentucky from writing any kind of a Displaced Homemakers Act.
LK: You’re not interested in the Displaced Homemakers?
RF: No. We are not. We’re not interested in the 90% federal funding. Plus, after some investigation, we have found that it is a total duplication of services already provided by the federal government.
Number three: we are hoping to pass a human life—. I guess it’s called a—. I’m not sure what it is. We’re calling for our human life constitutional convention. If enough states do this, they will be forced to put a human life amendment up before Congress. And that’s one thing that we’re hoping to get in Kentucky.
LK: As a state?
RF: As a state. Right, the state of Kentucky will call for a constitutional convention on a human life amendment.
LK: How long is your term as president?
RF: Well, you know, we never have decided that. (Laughs)
LK: I see.
RF: Until this session is over anyway. We’re working on by-laws, and I think we were looking toward two years. We were all so new—as far as politics is concerned—that the first year we spent learning a fantastic amount of information that people who had been involved in lobbying and that sort of thing probably would have already known. We were so politically naive that we spent at least a year just learning a lot of things.
LK: Are there mainly women in the organization or is there a mix?
RF: We have primarily women. We have family memberships, but I think probably the majority of our memberships are women.
LK: Is there anything else that you would like to add about your impressions of IWY meetings or what you would like to have happen there?
RF: No. I have not been there. I don’t think I’m going to go; I had enough at the Kentucky IWY.
LK: You were there also?
RF: Yes. We were denied—flatly denied—the right to have a speaker on any of the panels. They only allowed people who believed in the Equal Rights Amendment, who were for abortion on demand, who were for government-funded daycare centers—government-funded programs. They just flatly denied the women of Kentucky equal representation or the equal right to have both points of view presented.
RF: So we had enough of IWY just in the state of Kentucky. (Laughs)
LK: So you decided to have these alternate rallies and petition instead?
LK: You are, though, working on a campaign to send petitions to the President?
RF: Yes ma’am. We had petitions from our rally and then these petitions here. We have worked on those, and if they would like for us to continue to work on them, we will. I don’t know whether this is the cutoff point; I don’t know exactly when they’re going to be sent.
LK: And those petitions specifically ask—?
RF: For the elimination of Equal Rights Amendment. They express the desire that we do not want ratification of ERA; they express opposition to unlimited abortion or abortion on demand; they express opposition to the legalization of homosexuality, the legalization of prostitution.
End of Interview