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 Posted: Fri May 15th, 2009 06:42 am
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cklarson
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Dear Cleburne,

A couple of more thoughts.

I'm not so sure rape was so under reported although as whole I'm sure it was. The
reasons are: 1) women were chaperoned or supposed to be and while dating not often left alone with a suitor; 2) in the army, as the one example shows, rape was a capital offense which might have served as a deterent. As to the former, some writers have claimed that the chaperone bit was scriptural "the Pauline restriction"--not even sure what St. Paul saying that refers to. But I think more to the point was that in cities like NYC, the streets were so dark, with criminals lurking, and carriages abounding, to say nothing of pigs and stray cows, that a woman did need an escort. So it was assumed that if a woman was out alone she didn't come from a good enough family to provide her an escort, at least at night. In the Midwest on the other hand, most families were young so there were not enough men to go around to escort women. Hence, the women drove carriages, rode horses, and rowed canoes. In So. IL, women raced in mixed gender horse races even (see Mary Logan's memoir).

As to wearing men's dress, contrary to some scholars who seem to think that these women were outrageous and way out on the limb of feminine thinking, again, the real point was that they weren't stupid. It did not take a genius to figure out that just by changing clothes one won: freedom, independence, physical protection, a chance at high paying jobs, ability to travel, etc. Before the war, Emma Edmonds posed as a male bookseller in Hartford, had her own carriage and the time of her life. She was the most popoular date in town!

CKL

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