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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ironic forces contributing to Durr's feminism

Because of his wealthy background, Durr's father expected to be served. As a result, his definition of his masculinity required the support of his family or staff and ultimately drove Durr into her feminism.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. 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 don't suppose that Daddy ever pulled up a weed in his life. He never did anything with his hands that I can recall. Daddy would sit by a fire like that and if it started going out, he was just used to yelling, "Jim! Joe!" You know, and some black boy would come in and put a log on, or some black woman. So, when he didn't have any more black persons to call, my mother or even I would come in and put the wood on the fire. It never occurred to him to just reach over and put the wood on the fire. (laughter) One day during the war, he was visiting us up in Washington and this is so typical, this was during the Second World War and we didn't have very much oil and you had to cut your temperature down to just above freezing and just keep your pipes from freezing. So, we had a fireplace in one of the small rooms and we really lived in there with this little fireplace. And so, Daddy came up to visit us and he was sitting by the fire and I made him some hot coffee and the fire began to die down and we didn't have any wood. So, I went out and it was snowing and cold and I took an axe or a hatchet, I never was very good at it, Cliff usually had some wood already cut. But I had to chop up some wood and bring it in and start up the fire again. And it never occured to Daddy to go out and chop some wood and bring it in, he was an old man then, but he was fairly active still. So, he looked at me and said, "Dear, I declare, it distresses me terribly to see your hands. You know, my mother had the most beautiful white hands and your mother had such beautiful white hands. I really think that hands are the mark of a lady. Since you have to do all this work, couldn't you wear gloves?" (laughter) It never occurred to him to do it himself. Well, I think that is one of the reasons that I was a feminist, you see, and a woman's libber, because my mother spoiled my father terribly and she never expected him to do anything. She never expected him to wash a dish or fix a meal or do anything around the house and he never did. He hardly learned to drive an automobile.