Men: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“God designed that man should be our protector…but how often has he proved himself a traitor to his trust, and the worst enemy of our sex?” (MP, 112)

This week’s readings had a document I found to be very important and insightful. The second document from Major Problems Chapter 4, “Boston Female Moral Reformers Condemn ‘Licentious Men,’ 1838,” was very interesting to read because it so accurately described the ways of the men mentioned in Charlotte Temple and the first document, “A Trial for Rape in New York, 1793,” and why the women of Boston cannot continue to have men like this in their society. The second document was also used as a call to action for the women of Boston to start to talk about these events and strengthen their voice.

 “He has betrayed, and robbed, and forsaken his victim, and left her to endure alone the untold horrors of a life…and exclusion from every virtuous circle.” (MP, 112)

This reflects Charlotte Temple very well in that Montraville courts Charlotte, leads her to believe they’ll get married in America, and makes sure she doesn’t contact her parents. Once in America, he then abandons her while she’s pregnant to marry another woman. This results in her becoming ill, evicted from her home, and ultimately dies from the horrid conditions she has been forced to live in. Montraville certainly betrayed Charlotte by leading her on, he robbed her of the security of her parents, and he definitely left her to endure challenges on her own. In the case of Lanah Sawyer, a man who she thought she knew well betrayed her. He rescued her from a group of insulting Frenchmen, visited her a few times, got ice cream, and earned her trust. Then he led her away where she was uncomfortable. Though she resisted and screamed he sexually assaulted her.

“Why is he caressed and shielded from scorn…and encouraged to commit other acts of perfidy and sin, while his victim, for one offence, is trampled upon, despised and banished from all virtuous society.” (MP 112)

While this could be describing a number of crimes committed at this time, in Lanah’s case this statement proves true. Lanah’s attacker, Harry Bedlow, was found not guilty after the trial. The trail had concluded that Lanah had “fallen victim to seduction,” but she had not “experienced the monstrous brutality of a rape,” and that Lanah had kind of consented by agreeing to go on the walk with him. (MP,111) It was a man’s word against a young woman’s, and Bedlow’s attorney warned the jury from “putting the life of a citizen in the hands of a woman.” (MP, 110) For Charlotte Temple, she was indeed trampled on by society. She had no rent money so her rude landlord, who felt no sympathy for her, kicked her out. Mademoiselle La Rue refused to help her, thinking only of her reputation. With the exception of a few, Charlotte was unwanted by society, while Montraville was off marrying a wealthy woman.

The second document concludes as a call to action for the women of Boston. Stating they cannot put their faith in men, who are essentially wolves. And why would they trust wolves to protect the sheep? The document seems to state that they have seen through trials or cautionary tales, like Charlotte Temple, the horrible acts that have been committed to women and they’ve had enough. It calls for women to stand together to better their sex and to start actually talking about it to influence action and quite possibly elevate themselves in society, which seems to look like the beginning of women’s rights. Overall the second document reflected the points of the other readings very well, and shows the response of the women of this time period.

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