Interviewee: Elaine Fremont
IWY SC 590
Interviewer: Kathie J. Carter
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Elaine Fremont was from Greenville, South Carolina and she attended the state IWY conference to cover the proceedings for Faith for the Family magazine. Fremont believed in the equality of women and men, but did not support the Equal Rights Amendment. Other issues important to Fremont included rape and sexual assault. Interview includes discussion of: Fremont’s impressions of the workshops; her belief that most ERA supporters did not know much about the amendment; and her belief that the federal government should not provide childcare to low-income women.
Kathie J. Carter: I’d like to start with your name and your address.
Elaine Fremont: Elaine Fremont.
KC: And your address?
EF: Box 34556.
EF: Greenville, South Carolina.
KC: What brought you to the meeting today?
EF: I am an editor of a magazine, not the editor but I work for a magazine and they wanted me to come down here and see, you know, what’s going on.
KC: What magazine is it you work for?
EF: Faith for the Family
KC: Faith for the Family?
KC: Why was it that Faith for the Family was interested in having you come here to observe and be a delegate at the meeting?
EF: Mainly because it’s a national event. And I’m a woman and I’m interested and I wanted to see it treated in the magazine.
KC: What do you think about the meeting so far?
EF: I think that some of them have merely been inspirational, I don’t think that they have been of true value, I don’t think that they’re going to effect the personal life, you know, the way a person, their day-to-day life. A lot of these lectures I don’t think are going to make a big difference. I admire the women who have brought themselves up by their own bootstraps, I think, you know, the ones who started poor and came up, some of them were speaking today, I admire that and that’s inspirational. But as far as, I mean, anybody should do that that would be the same for men. You know, I don’t see any difference there, I don’t see why it’s so great, I just think people ought to do that, not necessarily women. So I haven’t seen a lot of value, now tomorrow I expect more, it’s a different slate of events.
KC: What particular issues and concerns do you have as a woman? You said because you’re a woman you wanted to cover this for the magazine.
EF: Yeah okay, yeah right, I am very interested and I know, you know, they haven’t mentioned it here, of course, but that concerns me because of course I believe in equal rights. I don’t believe that men and women are the same, I think that’s silly. I mean, it’s so obviously different, if we’re physically different why aren’t we emotionally different? I think it’s silly for people to say that we are the same, but I feel that the interpretation of it, once a law’s passed it can be interpreted any way, and once a judge interprets it one way that sets the precedent for everybody else. And you never know who’s going to be the first one to interpret it. And I’m concerned about that because I feel that can be dangerous, and I don’t see a great need for it. Again, I haven’t, you know, I didn’t start out bad and have to fight my way up but I haven’t been discriminated against and I’ve been able to do just about anything I wanted to do. And nobody stopped me or tried to.
I have a position of authority where I work and it was not hard to get. I started a year ago. I just don’t see that there’s a great need for it, because the laws that exist now are sufficient but they aren’t being utilized in the way that they should be. And so if they were – I think that’s what the women ought to be griping about that, you know, there ought to be equality under the laws that exist now. There doesn’t need to be some huge general ERA. I just don’t see the need for it at all and I think that – well see the women that are the real voice for it have stated their purposes over national media and their purposes are not the general purposes of the general public.
In fact, I don’t think the general public really knows what their intentions are, the intentions of the people who’ve been vocal about it. They’ve stated what they want to do with it and I don’t think that most women know what this is. They hear the name, ‘Equal Rights Amendment’, well everybody likes equality, everybody wants their rights. That’s all they know about it is the title practically. I’ve talked to so many women and many of them who are for it who don’t really know what it says. That’s all they know is the title and they’re for it. And these were intelligent women, they just weren’t up on it.
KC: Do you have a special concern? It’s my understanding the meeting is to help women with particular problems that may occur to them because they are female.
EF: I haven’t seen any for me, let’s put it that way.
KC: What about the workshops tomorrow? You’ve never seen any personal problems but what kinds of things of women in general are you particularly interested in?
EF: Okay. I am concerned about rape. I think that if the Equal Rights Amendment is passed that we will get less protection against rape. And I’m very concerned about that because it’s such a problem and I understand that the men might feel threatened because of all the women’s movement, you know, they might see this as a threat. And if they do they might react in such a way where they would feel more hostile towards women. Especially the people with severe problems such as the men who rape women. And I see, to me it seems like it would happen more and that we would get less protection after it had happened, because if the Equal Rights Amendment is passed and interpreted in such a way, you know, this could happen. There would be no reason for them to think that we would need the protection if we’re so equal.
KC: What kind of protection are you talking about?
EF: Okay, legal protection, I guess getting him prosecuted, seeing it as a crime, that’s what I’m talking about mainly is seeing rape as a crime. I’m afraid that it could be interpreted so that it isn’t a crime. I don’t know how they would word that but.
KC: What do you think about such an issue as childcare for women who work and make very little money? And have children they’re responsible for.
EF: I think that the women ought to find their own childcare. I don’t see why the government has to supply all these things for people. Why is, see I don’t see why the government thinks they have to play big daddy to everybody. People can take care of themselves. They’ve proved that over and over and over and yet the government keeps trying to be so beneficent and helping everybody out and spending the money of the people who are taking care of themselves to take care of the people who aren’t. I don’t see the need for it.
KC: So you’re saying that you don’t see any barriers in the way of anything because (unintelligible at 6:37).
EF: You know, no. I’m sure that because of personal prejudices some women are discriminated against, but laws aren’t going to solve all of that. I mean, the southern whites, I’m talking this in a “southern whites”, I mean, not all southern whites are like this but people who hate blacks; there are some who are still fighting the Civil War, okay? Just because you pass laws against discrimination of blacks doesn’t mean they’re going to quit hating them and doing all the snide things that they can. That’s a personal thing and you can’t legislate against it. I think you just have to change attitudes somehow.
KC: What do you hope will come out of this meeting?
EF: I haven’t hoped anything really. You know, I just came because I was interested in what is going to come out of it, but I haven’t really thought about what I hope to come out of it. I think the people who set it up have hopes for it, you know, I’m just here trying to see what they’re doing, that’s all.
KC: Thank you very much, appreciate it.
End of Interview