Interviewee: Zilla Hinton
IWY SC 608
Interviewer: Saznette P. Fleming
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Zilla Hinton, age 50, from Charleston, South Carolina, attended the South Carolina IWY conference because she was opposed to the work of feminist activists and was anti-ERA. Hinton believed she represented the majority opinion in South Carolina and attended the conference to express her opinions on government overreach. Issues important to Hinton included the defeat of the ERA and the defense of small government.
Zilla Hinton: Now we have with us Miss Zilla Hinton of Charleston, South Carolina. I’m unmarried and fifty years of age.
Saznette Fleming: Would you like to tell me your purpose for being here?
ZH: My purpose in being here is to represent what I believe is a viewpoint of the majority of women in South Carolina.
SF: And what is that viewpoint?
ZH: I believe that is primarily a love of God and country. I am concerned that five million tax dollars have been appropriated and given to a group of women, many of whom are very radical in their views. And in South Carolina, all $41,172 has been allocated. I am one of those ladies, a working woman never married, who is very much opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment because I believe it would take away many special rights and privileges that women now enjoy. And I resent the fact that the twenty-nine member committee in South Carolina includes only one person who has openly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Our state legislature has on several occasions refused to ratify this amendment because they realize it would be harmful to women, and I am resentful of the fact that my tax dollars are being used to promote the Equal Rights Amendment.
Now, while the law creating the International Women’s Year and appropriating this $5 million stated that it could not be used to lobby for any ERA, I feel that this has been violated in many respects, including this large booklet to urge a more perfect union which advocates ERA today at this conference. It is publicly funded, as I said, a message was read from the president’s wife advocating the Equal Rights Amendment, and I think it is very unfair for our tax dollars to be used to lobby for a Constitutional amendment.
SF: What would you like to see come out of this conference today?
ZH: I would like to see come out of this conference the real thinking, what I believe is real thinking and the viewpoint of the majority of South Carolina women, that we want less centralization of government. We want government that is close to the people, because that is a government that’s most responsive to people. I would like to see resolutions that would advocate that we as American citizens assume as many responsibilities as we can, and that the government involve itself in our lives only where it is absolutely necessary.
SF: So is it your feelings, then, that it is not necessary to have an ERA amendment?
ZH: I think it would be very harmful to women. There has been discrimination, we all know that, but it’s been custom and practice in most instances, not law. And as Miss Hicks has recently said, unless a law is the cause of discrimination, then the law is not going to eliminate discrimination. And as you know, women have made tremendous gains in recent years. You probably hold a job that ten, fifteen years ago a woman could not have gotten. I am a buyer for a public utility, a private utility, and women are having opportunities and we deserve opportunities. We should have equal pay for equal work if we are capable of doing a job which should be considered on the same basis as a man. I do not think that I should get a job that I’m not qualified for or capable of doing simply because I’m a woman. I’m for equal opportunity for people, but I’m very much opposed to a law that would require that men and women be treated exactly the same.
Now, one of the things that I think women would lose – this would not affect me. In South Carolina we have the Dower Rights, which means a married man cannot dispose of his real estate without his wife’s written consent. Now, that is discriminatory because whatever she owns she can sell when she feels like it, but I think this is very good protection for the wife, especially the one who is a full time wife and mother. And under ERA that would have to go, because it is discriminatory. But most of our laws have been written to favor women and protect them, and I think the average South Carolina woman wants to keep this protection. We’re not against people opting to vote. We are against this misnamed Equal Rights Amendment.
SF: Is there anything else you would like to add, or do you feel that have summed up your true feelings?
ZH: Well, I would like to say, too, that I oppose this amendment on Christian principles, and I feel that it would cause the federal government to further inject itself into every area of life. And since I am a member of a church that adheres strictly to the Bible, and we support the stipulation in the Bible that only men are ministers. Now if we had an Equal Rights Amendment I think that there’s no question that eventually the federal government would say you will have to ordain women and have women ministers or lose your tax exemption. And I believe that many things would come about that would not be pleasing the Lord, so I oppose ERA first from Christian principles.
SF: Okay then, thank you very much for taking this time with me and have a nice day.
ZH: Thank you.
End of interview