CORRECTIONS: Hyphens and Gender Roles

Published:May 9, 2016 by Brendan Wolfe

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We made a couple of corrections in the encyclopedia today. First, we had the name of one of our biographical subjects wrong. Well, sort of wrong. Sarah-Patton Boyle, a white civil rights activist and writer who lived in Charlottesville, insisted on that hyphen between her given name and her maiden name. I’m not sure how we missed it or why we left it out, but it has now been restored.

The second correction comes thanks to an anonymous email sent to us in reference to our entry on the Lost Cause. Our reader quotes from the entry’s introductory paragraph, which notes that the Lost Cause understanding of the Civil War was “developed by white Southerners, many of them former Confederate generals, in a postwar climate of economic, racial, and gender uncertainty …”

Our reader:

Gender uncertainty? Are you kidding? I am fairly confident [General James] Longstreet wasn’t trying on dresses and eye shadow, and Jubal Early was [not] looking [to] dispatch his Mr. Johnson to soothe his inner feeling.

If you wonder why our kids are so screwed up, and we are arguing about what bathrooms perverts can and should use, look no farther than academia.

Consider this not so much a correction as a clarification—but we did not intend “gender uncertainty” to mean uncertainty about one’s own gender; rather, we intended it to mean uncertainty about the roles men and women played in society. Hence, a slight rewording:

Developed by white Southerners, many of them former Confederate generals, in a postwar climate of economic, racial, and social uncertainty …

And for what it’s worth, we think our kids are doing great!

IMAGE: Confederate president Jefferson Davis in petticoats. (More on his infamous capture here.)