chapter  1
18 Pages

Of Closed Doors and Open Hatches: Heteronormative Plots in Eighteenth-Century (Women’s) Studies

BySusan S. Lanser

The Monster scare focuses on the potential dangers of the very practices of gallantry supposed to reflect and facilitate women's salutary 'feminizing' influence over men. During the scare, Londoners reveal a pervasive fear that, in the sexualized milieu of London's night time streets, men's social intercourse with women may not in fact polish and refine them but instead unleash their Monstrous sexuality. The shift toward emphasizing protective masculinity as a key to social order is perhaps clearest in moments when writers attempt to understand the intentions behind the crimes. Considered as a whole, Monster discourse depicts a social world structured by the conflation of protection and sexual pursuit contained within the word 'gallantry'. The sexualized dynamics of the public gallantry underwritten by this notion of protective masculinity become especially clear in a slight revision of this passage by Angerstein, who incorporates it into his retrospective description of the mood in London during the height of the scare.