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A Petticoat Parley: Women in Ripperology

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  • Unless my memory is playing me false wasn’t it Martin Fido who said or wrote, after talking to East End families, that it was common knowledge that when times were tough Granny went out on the streets to earn money, and that no one thought any less of her?

    Just the tragic reality of their lives.
    Regards

    Herlock Sholmes

    Comment


    • Originally posted by jmenges View Post
      The whole issue has been muddled by what Rubenhold initially imagined what a Victorian prostitute was and what she later discovered about the realities of a female vagrants subsistence existence in the East End of London. The two realities conflict. Rather than go with the one reality and accept the evidence that exists as trustworthy, she dug her heels in and conjured up all sorts of theories to oppose the evidence. As an example- She’ll routinely say that “the police themselves admitted they couldn’t tell the difference between a prostitute and one who was not”. This is referring to an 1887 memo by Charles Warren in the aftermath of the false arrest for prostitution of Elizabeth Cass, who was mistakenly assumed to have been soliciting. This memo DID NOT have anything to do with dictating the proper way the police were to conduct their investigations into the background and last known movements of murder victims. Yet Rubenhold capitalizes on this memo both in her book and in her online Twitter dispatches.
      She claims Polly’s jolly bonnet comment meant that Polly would try to pawn it in the middle of the night, not that it might help her attract a customer.
      She ignores nearly every witness account there is in the case as if these accounts don’t even exist.
      She takes the words spoken by the women who lodged with Nichols in Thrawl Street who stated they knew Polly as a prostitute and transfers them to a male press reporter and then questions what knowledge he would have had about the victim. There are many other examples.
      So the issue isn’t what the definition of prostitute is, but how Rubenhold bobs and weaves around the source material because for some reason SHE has a problem with the notion that these five particular women had to resort to subsistence prostitution in order to survive.

      JM
      I wonder how HR thinks the police could have distinguished between a prostitute and a non-prostitute in the East End anyway?

      Comment


      • Originally posted by PaulB View Post

        I wonder how HR thinks the police could have distinguished between a prostitute and a non-prostitute in the East End anyway?
        Are you suggesting that they wouldn’t have carried Union Membership cards Paul?
        Regards

        Herlock Sholmes

        Comment


        • I suspect they couldn’t make a distinction unless they knew the woman from previous encounters, saw them being watched over by a pimp or witnessed them in the act. And a just seeing a woman speaking to a man wasn’t enough. The order issued by Warren prohibited a police officer from arresting someone on their mere suspicion that they’re engaged in prostitution. There had to first be a direct complaint made by a member of the public or they must have some other sort of corroborating evidence. All of this not being of the slightest relevance in a murder case, despite what Rubenhold claims in The Five.

          JM

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

            Are you suggesting that they wouldn’t have carried Union Membership cards Paul?
            Yes. Also that they didn't hang around street corners displaying their goods, or hang a card around their neck saying 'fancy a good time, dearie'. It seems to be another of HR's nonsense conclusions.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by jmenges View Post
              I suspect they couldn’t make a distinction unless they knew the woman from previous encounters, saw them being watched over by a pimp or witnessed them in the act. And a just seeing a woman speaking to a man wasn’t enough. The order issued by Warren prohibited a police officer from arresting someone on their mere suspicion that they’re engaged in prostitution. There had to first be a direct complaint made by a member of the public or they must have some other sort of corroborating evidence. All of this not being of the slightest relevance in a murder case, despite what Rubenhold claims in The Five.

              JM
              Obtaining direct complaints that a woman was soliciting and thereby causing a disturbance was slightly irrelevant when the woman was dead. As far as I know, a corpse was never taken before a magistrate at the Thames Police Court on a charge of soliciting. Or a charge of anything else really. And we know that people such as Nichols' husband and fellow lodgers, and the deputy of Chapman's lodging house confirmed that they were prostitutes, so the police were well within their rights to call them prostitutes.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by PaulB View Post

                Yes. Also that they didn't hang around street corners displaying their goods, or hang a card around their neck saying 'fancy a good time, dearie'. It seems to be another of HR's nonsense conclusions.
                You’ll be saying that they didn’t all look like a young Barbara Windsor next.
                Regards

                Herlock Sholmes

                Comment


                • By Victorian definition,to me,means the rulings of the church and the law.Was every woman walking the streets in the early hours to be considered as someone seeking a customer for sex.No one knows what Nichols meant by her remarks about earning money.Stride and Eddowes cannot be shown to have been soliciting,and Kelly's movements the day and night of her death seem more of a person spending money than earning it.Which leaves Chapman,and no one has any idea of what she was doingin the early hours.
                  But then to some a prostitute will always ,and at all times, be a prostitute.Will an occassional drunk always be a drunk?

                  Comment


                  • Since we've waded briefly into the topic of non-germane source material cited by Rubenhold to bolster one of her proclamations, another example appears when she is discussing John Kelly's inquest testimony and Kelly is questioned about the meaning of "walking the streets". He first said he, by defending Kate's honor(HR) didn't want to have her 'walking the streets' due to their lack of doss money. When asked to clarify what he meant by 'walking the streets' Kelly said "Many a time we have not had the money to pay for our shelter, and have had to tramp about".
                    Rubenhold goes on to say that the term "walking the streets" is described by William Booth in his book 'Darkest England' as (HR)"rough sleepers' never ending nocturnal quest for somewhere quiet to rest before a patrolling constable moved them along."
                    What Rubenhold doesn't mention is that when talking about the poor "walking the streets", William Booth is specifically referring to working men who stay up all night walking the streets so that they can be ready to find work at the crack of dawn.
                    As far as I know, there is no evidence that any of the Canonical Five victims of Jack the Ripper were workingmen, nor do I know of any evidence that any of them were planning to walk the streets so that they might find employment first thing the following morning.

                    JM

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                      You’ll be saying that they didn’t all look like a young Barbara Windsor next.
                      Let's not take this too far!

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by harry View Post
                        By Victorian definition,to me,means the rulings of the church and the law.Was every woman walking the streets in the early hours to be considered as someone seeking a customer for sex.No one knows what Nichols meant by her remarks about earning money.Stride and Eddowes cannot be shown to have been soliciting,and Kelly's movements the day and night of her death seem more of a person spending money than earning it.Which leaves Chapman,and no one has any idea of what she was doingin the early hours.
                        But then to some a prostitute will always ,and at all times, be a prostitute.Will an occassional drunk always be a drunk?
                        You are missing the point. We don't know and nobody ever knew what the victims were doing before they were murdered, so we are working on probabilities. You should know that. But people who knew the victims said they were active prostitutes when the occasion demanded, the women were found dead in dark and lonely places, the sort of places a prostitute might take a customer, and they had no money and they had gone off with the stated intention of getting some. On the basis of that evidence, one is not likely to conclude that they'd been standing on a corner selling copies of the War Cry, but rather make the reasonable conjecture that they were soliciting.

                        Is an occasional drunk always be a drunk, you ask? No, of course not. But ask yourself if a boxer is always a boxer? Some might argue that at heart a boxer is always a boxer, but more pertinently one might suppose that a competent boxer might defend himself if called upon to do so. And if a boxer's body was found among the bins at the back of a gym, one might suppose that he was killed after or before working out. The point is that although someone may have left the ring years before, they still have the capacity to box and the instinct to defend themselves and fight back. A boxer arguably is always a boxer. It is having demonstrated the ability to do something that matters in this case.

                        Comment


                        • The question about whether the victims were actively soliciting or not at the time of the murders isn’t really important. We know from evidence though that they all resorted to prostitution when they needed money and there were no other options. The ripper might simply have seen a woman who wasn’t actively soliciting, made the assumption, then approached her and she took the opportunity of earning some money. It’s not a difficult leap when seeing a poorly dressed woman walking those rough streets in the early hours when, according to Victorian’s ‘no respectable woman would have been out and about.’ And let’s face it, the suggestion that Polly was intending to pawn her hat, or earn some money in other ways, at 2am in Whitechapel is hardly convincing.
                          Regards

                          Herlock Sholmes

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                            The question about whether the victims were actively soliciting or not at the time of the murders isn’t really important. We know from evidence though that they all resorted to prostitution when they needed money and there were no other options. The ripper might simply have seen a woman who wasn’t actively soliciting, made the assumption, then approached her and she took the opportunity of earning some money. It’s not a difficult leap when seeing a poorly dressed woman walking those rough streets in the early hours when, according to Victorian’s ‘no respectable woman would have been out and about.’ And let’s face it, the suggestion that Polly was intending to pawn her hat, or earn some money in other ways, at 2am in Whitechapel is hardly convincing.
                            The old adage about it looking like a dog and barking like a dog applies very well in this case. It doesn't have to have been a dog, of course, but since we don't and can't ever know what they were actually doing, it's conjecture. However, what we can be reasonably be certain about is that they hadn't gone to where they were found to sleep. People slept rough, but they sought some kind of shelter. They didn't just lay down on the pavement in a frequently police-patrolled street, or in the middle of Mitre Square, so if they didn't go to where they were found to sleep, Rubenhold is left with the difficult job of fitting the known facts into a more reasonable conjecture than did the police in 1888.

                            Comment


                            • What are the odds that the Ripper would have explored the backyards along Hanbury Street looking for someone sleeping -and found someone-when, according to Rubenhold, people were sleeping rough nearly everywhere?

                              JM

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by jmenges View Post
                                What are the odds that the Ripper would have explored the backyards along Hanbury Street looking for someone sleeping -and found someone-when, according to Rubenhold, people were sleeping rough nearly everywhere?

                                JM
                                Exactly Jon. Do we envision the Ripper walking along Hanbury Street trying doors to find one unlocked then going inside to luckily find another unlocked door then….bingo… a women sleeping by the steps in a backyard with an outside loo? How could anyone give this a seconds consideration? And yet she did and her followers swallowed it. Let’s face it, no one needs knowledge of ripperology to see through this.
                                Regards

                                Herlock Sholmes

                                Comment

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