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A Petticoat Parley: Women in Ripperology

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  • Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post

    The Leeson quote is indeed interesting.

    I totally accept that it's nigh on impossible for us 133 years later (and living in such a different society) to fully appreciate the impact that the murders must have had.

    Personally, I suspect a little bit of hyperbole in that quote insomuch as I struggle to believe that a thirty year old man living in York (as a random example) would be "terrified" to read of another murder.

    I imagine that a significant proportion of the newspaper's readership would have been male (ie not on the killers hit list) and situated well away from London and his perceived stalking ground, so I could conceive of such people experiencing a kind of vicarious macabre thrill from their safe remove, as events unfolded, and the fact that the victims were prostitutes may have added to that slightly.

    Mere theorising on my part though!

    Having said all that, I do recall reading that at the time papers were also reporting ripper style killings all over the place (Nicaragua springs to mind as an extreme example!) and the Johnny Gill / Bradford thing, just off the top of my head.

    Perhaps it is more with hindsight that we perceive JtR as specifically a killer of women in Whitechapel during the Autumn of 1888 (I know there are possible outliers. Am just simplifying here!)

    It could be that at the time it was felt that JtR could potentially strike anywhere, and anyone could be a victim resulting in widespread terror as per Leeson.

    Oh, how I sometimes wish it were possible to speak directly to someone who was alive at the time!

    Sure, we have testimony and newspaper reports but they are frequently ambiguous and open to different interpretations (as evidenced by some of the huge threads on here!!)

    I suppose even with a contemporary witness, we would still only get one individual's perception of events, but it would be fascinating to hear nonetheless.

    Hi Ms Diddles,

    I suspect people like to be "terrified", or angered, by sensational news stories, as long as they believe the events are unlikely to affect them personally!

    The unfortunate women of Spitalfields were uniquely qualified to describe being in fear of their lives, but also knew that many of their number had little choice but to remain vulnerable while the killer was active. That's the definition of terror.

    Today, many people like to be scared or angered by stuff that can't hurt them, such as footballers who take the knee to show that black lives matter to them, for example, or a vaccine that can give protection against a deadly virus. But few appear truly terrified by climate change, which will end up affecting us all. We are more terrified by the thought of having to change the way we are living today.

    Serial killers have always grabbed the headlines from far more deadly situations facing the public in general. But for all those poor women in 1888 Whitechapel, the danger was all too real and immediate. It couldn't have been easy for them to stay off the streets or they'd have done so.

    Love,

    Caz
    X
    Last edited by caz; 11-16-2021, 10:52 PM.
    "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


    Comment


    • I meant to add that while the Spitalfields unfortunates were taking their chances out on the killer's streets at night, even if it meant selling sexual relief to strangers, married women across the land and across all classes were lying under the one man, thinking of England, in exchange for their bed and board. Not all would have been happy to do so, and few of those had a choice in the matter. There would be no such crime as rape within marriage until, IIRC, a century later!

      A Victorian woman's lot - like a policeman's - was not necessarily a happy one. And Hallie has managed to defend Victorian man by suggesting that three of the five victims - against the evidence - were not made vulnerable by men's attitudes and desires. It's the opposite of what she apparently set out to demonstrate.

      Love,

      Caz
      X
      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


      Comment


      • Originally posted by caz View Post

        This is what I will never understand, Paul. What difference does it make, in HR's head, whether the victims had to be out on the streets at all hours - and therefore vulnerable to a worse type of male predator than the usual seeker of affordable sex - because they had spent their doss money on booze and had nowhere else to sleep, or because they had an immediate need for money for a bed, or their next meal, and limited ways to earn it quickly enough to survive from one day to the next. Surely nobody would condemn the women for how they managed to stay alive until their killer decided for them how they should die. But Hallie apparently sees it as a lifestyle choice such women had over their own bodies, with some prepared to sell and others not. It's as if the men who preyed every night on such women had no malign influence over them, and it was purely down to the morals of the female in question, whether she chose to booze her way out of a bed, or to screw her way into one. Hallie evidently finds the latter more distasteful to her sensitive 21st century eyes than the former.

        This says far more about Hallie than the Ripperologists she had to round up in order to condemn as an entire group. She should have written a book condemning the males in Victorian society for creating the perfect hunting ground for Jack.

        Not sexy enough though.

        Love,

        Caz
        X
        Hi Caz,
        Actually, The Five does condemn the males in Victorian society, especially the police and the press, who she accuses of having branded all homeless and destitute women prostitutes. She then argues that this marginalisation has continued over the last 130-years, nobody questioning whether the victims really were prostitutes, but instead uncritically accepting that they were, and compounding this by focusing on the killer and reducing the victims to one-dimensional beings, and dismissing their lives in a few ill-considered words.

        Whilst nobody would deny that Victorian society was male orientated and that the poor and destitute of both sexes were treated appallingly, the book uses the victims to deliver a feminist polemic which is based on the premise that the victims were not prostitutes, but had been automatically labeled as such because they were homeless. Rubenhold goes on to make clear that this passed a moral judgement on these women, and made out that they were responsible for their deaths.

        The problem is that the book's arguments are built on an incorrect foundation and unproven premis. She has omitted evidence that runs counter to ther theory, edited sources, and done much else of which her large audience is utterly unaware, so they uncritically buy into her theorising. Her base camp is Twitter, where she controls the game-play, preaching to a lagre following of academics of one sort or anotherm blocking her critics, at at the same time portraying them as obsessed nutters. The danger is that these people are using Rubenhold's theorising to teach kids, change school text books, and put Rubenhold's argument into their own books. Soon it will be the accepted fact.

        Ripperology tends to be an insular community. It can explode over things like the diary and shawl, but it rarely takes its case into the wider world. And, of course, nobody is listening to us. And Rubenhold is pushing out this biased podcast that's gaining even more listeners ...




        Comment


        • Hi Paul,

          I appreciate that HR was seeking to condemn the males in Victorian society, but she went about it in a very odd way, and at the female victims' expense in the long run, by denying their dependence on men's desires for their survival. What was the greater male sin? 'Branding' an individual a prostitute, where the evidence indicated that was what she did on occasion to get by? Or turning a blind eye to the fact that so many women did end up in the oldest profession in a cruel and unequal world, where a woman's worth could be as little as what she'd do for thruppence?

          What HR misses is the old saying that it takes two to tango. By denying what these women had to do, despite evidence to the contrary, she effectively removes the responsibility for their fate from the men who put such a low value on their lives. Worse than that, her sleeping rough argument, which goes against the evidence if not simple common sense, would appear to rely on the women in question having no money for a bed because they had spent whatever they earned by 'respectable' means on alcohol.

          I wonder what the reaction from feminists would have been if a man had written this book, and implied that the victims were not forced by men into prostituting themselves?

          Love,

          Caz
          X

          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


          Comment


          • I sometimes wonder,considering the state of the local economy,and the number of male unfortunates,where the money came from to finance the alledged large numbers of women relying on prostitution in Whitechapel.Sure a person didn't need a large amount of money to survive,but wages being so low,those men who had a job would be hard pressed to squander money,and those that didn't work would not have the money to do so.Even Nichols and Chapman,the two most likeliest to have been searching for a client,according to many,appeared to have spent time searching for a client without doing so.So yes,I do sometimes wonder whether the sex trade,as we now call it,was a factor in the Ripper killings,and whether anyone,male or female was forced into it.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by caz View Post
              Hi Paul,

              I appreciate that HR was seeking to condemn the males in Victorian society, but she went about it in a very odd way, and at the female victims' expense in the long run, by denying their dependence on men's desires for their survival. What was the greater male sin? 'Branding' an individual a prostitute, where the evidence indicated that was what she did on occasion to get by? Or turning a blind eye to the fact that so many women did end up in the oldest profession in a cruel and unequal world, where a woman's worth could be as little as what she'd do for thruppence?
              I'm not sure I understand this. Branding a woman a prostitute when that's what she was (albeit only occasionally and when the circumstances made it necessary) isn't what Rubenhold says. She says women were branded prostitutes when they weren't prostitutes at all, but were destitute and homeless.

              Originally posted by caz View Post
              What HR misses is the old saying that it takes two to tango. By denying what these women had to do, despite evidence to the contrary, she effectively removes the responsibility for their fate from the men who put such a low value on their lives. Worse than that, her sleeping rough argument, which goes against the evidence if not simple common sense, would appear to rely on the women in question having no money for a bed because they had spent whatever they earned by 'respectable' means on alcohol.
              Of course, HR is denying these people what they had to do in order to survive. What she is doing, though, is arguing that by branding them prostitutes, men were making out that they were 'just prostitutes', that their lives didn't much matter, and that they were responsible for what happened to them. It's all the same thing really, so it's not immediately obvious what her point is.

              Originally posted by caz View Post
              I wonder what the reaction from feminists would have been if a man had written this book, and implied that the victims were not forced by men into prostituting themselves?

              Love,

              Caz
              X
              Does HR's book actually imply that? I'm not sure that was HR's intention, but prima facie is an interesting point of view. I wonder how she'd reply to that?

              Comment


              • Originally posted by harry View Post
                I sometimes wonder,considering the state of the local economy,and the number of male unfortunates,where the money came from to finance the alledged large numbers of women relying on prostitution in Whitechapel.Sure a person didn't need a large amount of money to survive,but wages being so low,those men who had a job would be hard pressed to squander money,and those that didn't work would not have the money to do so.Even Nichols and Chapman,the two most likeliest to have been searching for a client,according to many,appeared to have spent time searching for a client without doing so.So yes,I do sometimes wonder whether the sex trade,as we now call it,was a factor in the Ripper killings,and whether anyone,male or female was forced into it.
                I don't think it's wise to speculate without the facts. The statistics produced at the time suggest that prostitution was a large, widespread, and serious problem. Without checking the figures, I seem to recall that the number of prostitutes went into the thousands. That there were so many prostitutes indicates that there were plentiful customers, which would seem to deny the first part of your argument. As for Nichols and Chapman, we don't know that they didn't find customers, in fact we don't know that they were actually looking for customers, all we know is that they ended up in a quiet location, which suggested that they were there for 'immoral purposes'. The point isn't so much what they were doing after the last positive sighting of them, that's something nobody knows or can ever know, but that we have witness statements that they has resorted to prostitution and that they were found in the places which suggested they were engaged in prostitution.

                This is the point so often missed. We have the testimony that Nichols and Chapman were prostitutes. Where they were found suggests that they were engaged in prostitution. The latter isn't known for certain, it is simply the weight of probability.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by PaulB View Post

                  I'm not sure I understand this. Branding a woman a prostitute when that's what she was (albeit only occasionally and when the circumstances made it necessary) isn't what Rubenhold says. She says women were branded prostitutes when they weren't prostitutes at all, but were destitute and homeless.
                  Yeah, that's what I meant, Paul, but I could have expressed myself better. HR concentrates on what she claims was the male sin: branding females prostitutes when they were 'merely' destitute and homeless. But we all know she manipulated the evidence concerning the C5 in order to bolster that argument. In my view, there was a genuine male sin of neglect, regarding all the females who did have to sell themselves, on a regular or occasional basis. Without tampering with any evidence, HR could have made so much more of this by observing that the ripper's victims were made especially vulnerable by their dire financial need to go off with total strangers to dark and secluded places.

                  Of course, HR is denying these people what they had to do in order to survive. What she is doing, though, is arguing that by branding them prostitutes, men were making out that they were 'just prostitutes', that their lives didn't much matter, and that they were responsible for what happened to them. It's all the same thing really, so it's not immediately obvious what her point is.
                  Well that would certainly apply to women who were known to prostitute themselves, and any man who considered such women to be worthless. But that would have been old news and HR wanted to make a name for herself with a new take, hence the rewriting of history to make it herstory , by claiming that some of the ripper's victims were not prostitutes at all, but were branded as such by men who didn't care enough to ascertain the truth.

                  And yes, that's irony for you!

                  Does HR's book actually imply that? I'm not sure that was HR's intention, but prima facie is an interesting point of view. I wonder how she'd reply to that?
                  Not intentionally, I'm sure. But I could imagine if HR fans had first read a similar claim made by a male author, they might have inferred that he was using the victims in question to show that they had not been forced by men to sell themselves. People with strong views, but without a wider knowledge of a subject, will sometimes judge an argument by who is making it, and not whether it is actually tenable.

                  Love,

                  Caz
                  X


                  "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                  Comment


                  • Do'nt we all speculate without facts.Now Nichols and Chapman were turned away from lodgings because they didn't have the money for a bed,not because they were prostitutes.How they spent the time between then and the time they were killed,is not known.That they were alledged to have prostituted themselves on occassions is not proof they regularly did so.Yes I have read there were thousands of such women in Whitechapel,but how that conclusion was reached is not disclosed.If true,it begs the question of why so few women were reported on the streets ,by witnesses ,on the nights of the murders.They were frightened off one might reply,but the real scare didn't begin immediantly,probably not untill after Chapman's death,so where and what were those thousands doing in the meantime.
                    I could cite authors who speak of dark and deserted streets of Whitechapel.Others who declare the streets to be thronged day and night.What the truth is would be a guess on my behalf,so I cannot determine the probability of what I read.So thousands of prostitutes?Were there any decent women In Whitechapel in 1888?

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by harry View Post
                      Do'nt we all speculate without facts.Now Nichols and Chapman were turned away from lodgings because they didn't have the money for a bed,not because they were prostitutes.How they spent the time between then and the time they were killed,is not known.That they were alledged to have prostituted themselves on occassions is not proof they regularly did so.Yes I have read there were thousands of such women in Whitechapel,but how that conclusion was reached is not disclosed.If true,it begs the question of why so few women were reported on the streets ,by witnesses ,on the nights of the murders.They were frightened off one might reply,but the real scare didn't begin immediantly,probably not untill after Chapman's death,so where and what were those thousands doing in the meantime.
                      I could cite authors who speak of dark and deserted streets of Whitechapel.Others who declare the streets to be thronged day and night.What the truth is would be a guess on my behalf,so I cannot determine the probability of what I read.So thousands of prostitutes?Were there any decent women In Whitechapel in 1888?
                      Maybe we do all speculate without facts. But it's ill-advised and is usually called fiction. More often speculation is based on the facts available. In this case, the statistics available - and how they were reached is disclosed, but you are welcome to challenge their accuracy, but on evidence - are that there were thousands of active prostitutes in late-Victorian London, which suggests that there were men willing to pay for their services. That puts into serious doubt your suggestion that men didn't have the money and so on.

                      As for Nichols and Chapman: you can read up the facts for yourself, but in the case of Nichols we have a police report in which her husband stated that he had ceased providing financial support on learning that she had turned to prostitution, and we have an independent report of women who knew Nichols at the lodging house where she lived who said that she earned her living as an 'unfortunate'. On top of which, police reports described Nichols as a prostitute, and whilst we don't know the full extent of the evidence on which that conclusion was based, it has to be accepted unless there is good reason to doubt it. Nobody knows or can ever know whether Nichols was prostituting herself on the night she was murdered, but she was in need of money and her body was found in a dark and lonely place, the sort of place she arguably wouldn't have been in unless she had gone there for a reason such as for sex. The job of the police then as now is the construct the most likely picture of the victim's last movements - it's the historian's job, too - and it's not rocket science to put the most likely construct on those facts.

                      Yes, you can find sources saying the streets were thronged day and night, but a penny to a pound you won't find any saying that about the back streets like Bucks Row.

                      And yes, of course there were 'decent women' in Whitechapel.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by harry View Post
                        I have read there were thousands of such women in Whitechapel,but how that conclusion was reached is not disclosed.
                        The conclusion was reached when Warren roughly tabulated the numbers based on what his constables reported over a period of a few months.

                        Letter sent by Commisioner Warren to the Home Office on Oct 25, 1888. ( Mepo file 3/141, ff. 158-9)

                        'In reply to your letter of 22nd October there has been no return hitherto of the probable numbers of brothels in London, but during the last few months I have been tabulating the observations of Constables on their beats, and have come to the conclusion that there are 62 houses known to be brothels on the H or Whitechapel Divn and probably a great number of other houses which are more or less intermitently used for such purpose.

                        The number of CLH's ( Common lodging houses) is 233, accomodating 8,530 persons. We have no means of ascertaining what women are prostitutes and who are not, but there is an impression that there are about 1200 prostitutes, mostly of a very low condition.

                        ...Mr. Charrington has been very active in evicting the holders of brothels... the result however is not conductive to morality. The unfortunate women are driven to plying for hire among respectable people, or else execise their calling in the streets.

                        The lower class of CLH's is naturally frequented by prostitutes, thieves and tramps as there is nowhere else for them to go, and no law to prevent their congregating there.

                        I fear that in driving the brothel keepers away from certain neighbourhoods much is being done to demoralize London generally. It is impossible to stop the supply when the demand exists...

                        I think that it is probable that a good number of people who are not married live together at the CLH's, but this also takes place in hotels in the West End.

                        I do not think there is any reason whatever for supposing that the murderer of Whitechapel has necessarily any connection with the condition of Whitechapel (or) is one of the ordinary denizens of that place..."

                        JM
                        Last edited by jmenges; 11-19-2021, 10:29 AM.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by harry View Post
                          Do'nt we all speculate without facts.Now Nichols and Chapman were turned away from lodgings because they didn't have the money for a bed,not because they were prostitutes.How they spent the time between then and the time they were killed,is not known.That they were alledged to have prostituted themselves on occassions is not proof they regularly did so.Yes I have read there were thousands of such women in Whitechapel,but how that conclusion was reached is not disclosed.If true,it begs the question of why so few women were reported on the streets ,by witnesses ,on the nights of the murders.They were frightened off one might reply,but the real scare didn't begin immediantly,probably not untill after Chapman's death,so where and what were those thousands doing in the meantime.
                          I could cite authors who speak of dark and deserted streets of Whitechapel.Others who declare the streets to be thronged day and night.What the truth is would be a guess on my behalf,so I cannot determine the probability of what I read.So thousands of prostitutes?Were there any decent women In Whitechapel in 1888?
                          Depends how one defines 'decent', Harry.

                          Isn't that precisely the problem with Hallie R? That she seems to equate prostitution with 'indecent' behavior, rather than the direst financial need imaginable?

                          Love,

                          Caz
                          X
                          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by jmenges View Post
                            '...It is impossible to stop the supply when the demand exists...'
                            And there you have it, Harry.

                            Decent men constantly demanding cheap sex from indecent women.

                            Love,

                            Caz
                            X
                            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                            Comment


                            • Decent men constantly demanding cheap sex from indecent women.

                              Not that there is anything wrong with that.

                              c.d.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post
                                It suits her agenda as lone moral guardian of the victim's memory.
                                My instinct is to steer clear of this discussion. Some of these issues are well worth discussing...or even debating...just not in the context of Hallie Rubenhold.

                                In the same way that it is well worth exercising...just not in a gym that is in the middle of a Covid-19 controversy.

                                At least that's how I see it.

                                If one really wanted to hit Hallie where it hurts, one would point out that her book is old hat.

                                I've never seen anyone mention it, but some years ago there was a made for t.v. movie (in three parts) called Five Daughters.

                                It told the story of the lives of five women whose only connection was that they were all victims of the Ipswich Strangler, Steven Wright.

                                Sound familiar?

                                It didn't whitewash their lives, however.

                                But the harsh part is that one of the victim's father was outraged by the project. He didn't care for the gimmick.

                                In the end, historians are voyeurs...including Hallie.

                                There is no guarantee that the victims or their families would want us to have been poking around in their lives.

                                In the case of Five Daughters, most did, but some didn't.
                                Last edited by rjpalmer; 11-19-2021, 03:09 PM.

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