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A Petticoat Parley: Women in Ripperology

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  • Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post

    You kinda proved Ally's point here Baron.

    "It is for me not good enough to label a woman a prostitute."

    That sounds awfully like a moral distinction to me.

    Just sayin'
    Let me try to explain, because I think I understand the impulse that Harry and The Baron are expressing.

    The counterargument, as odious as it will sound to many here, and perhaps to you and Ally, is that by insisting on calling the women prostitutes, we are giving them the same name that the killer would have given them.

    And this is one thing (I think) that concerns Harry and the Baron. Why would we want to do that?

    If this argument sounds outrageous or phony, think about it.

    It's all well and good to claim there are no moral distinctions being drawn, but like it or not, Harry and The Baron instinctively know that there is a type of male--and not an uncommon type--who does make 'moral distinctions' about prostitutes. I could go on a fifteen-minute rant here and even argue that there might be a biological reason for this--that evolution and the need to pass on one's genetic material inadvertently turned males into hypocrites--but I will avoid the temptation.

    In short, the Peter Sutcliffes of the world are not killing flower girls; they are, in my opinion, killing women that are deemed 'unworthy' or 'immoral' by society, or at least by their fellow males. It is a type of 'toxic masculinity' to the inth degree, to use a fashionable phrase, and the worry is that by setting a class apart as 'prostitutes' we may be feeding this toxicity. Whether you agree with this or not is another question, but I think that is the impulse. You and Ally might tell The Barron to 'grow up' and shed himself of his whore-Madonna impulse, but isn't your beef with God and/or Darwin and not The Baron? He knows all too well how males can be; he doesn't like it, but he acknowledges it.

    If it's just a matter of occupation, why doesn't anyone write that Jack the Ripper killed keychain hawkers, charring women, and bottlestopperers? Didn't the victims also have those occupations?

    We designate them prostitutes because we believe, rightly or wrongly, that sexuality was an aspect of the crimes, and that their risky occupation is what led to their deaths. And since it is not good to die, there is the shadow of 'victim blaming' lurking up that dark alley, and this is what obsesses Rubenhold the most, and is what led to her taking it way too far by denying prostitution altogether. You perhaps think her impulse is misguided, but I can't in all honesty think that it is 100% wrong. Is it perhaps 5% right? 10%? As I wrote earlier, even one's enemy owns a percentage of the truth, though, of course, we seldom acknowledge it.


    This is why these crimes obsessed the Victorians. They ticked a lot of boxes. They posed uncomfortable questions. They still do. There are ambiguities and people tend to 'politicize' murder for their own reasons. Currently, a gun doesn't go off in the USA without there being a political debate afterwards. Not necessarily a bad thing; society is trying to negotiate how we should react. In the meantime, we argue.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Mark J D View Post

      Not addressed to me, of course; and the actual addressee I wouldn't help if I could. But looking at the Rubenhold phenomenon from outside (I've only read reviews) while knowing all too well the actual nature of faux-left pseudo-feminist liberal performance art as manifested in pampered arts/humanities settings, I believe she may have hit the 'sweet spot': posthumously rescuing these poor women from what privileged society considers a bad word is vastly more appealing to those with discretionary spending than would be a proper indictment of capitalist society for forcing so many innocent people into a horrific pressure-cooker of suffering and want -- which, of course, it still does today. The point about modern critiques is that, if they want to avoid being smashed to pieces by the guardians of the system (in the manner of Jeremy Corbyn), they must steer the rage safely away from dominant power structures (capitalism and the captured state), and towards some bugaboo we can all unite against ('misogyny!') and whatever outgroup is available that can be made to seem malign but in reality has no power at all ('Ripperologists').

      So: Does the book contain a meaningful critique of capitalism, or does it dodge that and prove me right?

      M.
      I imagine that a feminist would argue that your 'meaningful critique of capitalism' would be wide of the mark if it didn't acknowledge that Victorian women were paid less than half the wages of men. It seems absurd in the extreme to suggest that feminism isn't a critique of 'dominant power structures.'

      RP

      Comment


      • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
        It seems absurd in the extreme to suggest that feminism isn't a critique of 'dominant power structures.' RP
        I write well and carefully, and I really can't be bothered with people who can't or won't read me with sufficient care or thought.

        M.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

          Let me try to explain, because I think I understand the impulse that Harry and The Baron are expressing.

          The counterargument, as odious as it will sound to many here, and perhaps to you and Ally, is that by insisting on calling the women prostitutes, we are giving them the same name that the killer would have given them.

          And this is one thing (I think) that concerns Harry and the Baron. Why would we want to do that?

          If this argument sounds outrageous or phony, think about it.

          It's all well and good to claim there are no moral distinctions being drawn, but like it or not, Harry and The Baron instinctively know that there is a type of male--and not an uncommon type--who does make 'moral distinctions' about prostitutes. I could go on a fifteen-minute rant here and even argue that there might be a biological reason for this--that evolution and the need to pass on one's genetic material inadvertently turned males into hypocrites--but I will avoid the temptation.

          In short, the Peter Sutcliffes of the world are not killing flower girls; they are, in my opinion, killing women that are deemed 'unworthy' or 'immoral' by society, or at least by their fellow males. It is a type of 'toxic masculinity' to the inth degree, to use a fashionable phrase, and the worry is that by setting a class apart as 'prostitutes' we may be feeding this toxicity. Whether you agree with this or not is another question, but I think that is the impulse. You and Ally might tell The Barron to 'grow up' and shed himself of his whore-Madonna impulse, but isn't your beef with God and/or Darwin and not The Baron? He knows all too well how males can be; he doesn't like it, but he acknowledges it.

          If it's just a matter of occupation, why doesn't anyone write that Jack the Ripper killed keychain hawkers, charring women, and bottlestopperers? Didn't the victims also have those occupations?

          We designate them prostitutes because we believe, rightly or wrongly, that sexuality was an aspect of the crimes, and that their risky occupation is what led to their deaths. And since it is not good to die, there is the shadow of 'victim blaming' lurking up that dark alley, and this is what obsesses Rubenhold the most, and is what led to her taking it way too far by denying prostitution altogether. You perhaps think her impulse is misguided, but I can't in all honesty think that it is 100% wrong. Is it perhaps 5% right? 10%? As I wrote earlier, even one's enemy owns a percentage of the truth, though, of course, we seldom acknowledge it.


          This is why these crimes obsessed the Victorians. They ticked a lot of boxes. They posed uncomfortable questions. They still do. There are ambiguities and people tend to 'politicize' murder for their own reasons. Currently, a gun doesn't go off in the USA without there being a political debate afterwards. Not necessarily a bad thing; society is trying to negotiate how we should react. In the meantime, we argue.

          Well said RJ


          This is from Cambridge Dictionary, see the first example they give:


          prostitute:

          a person who has sex with someone for money

          Examples

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/diction...ish/prostitute



          I don't think Ally will like this, but there it is.



          The Baron

          Comment


          • Hi all,

            it has always been my impression that a certain number of women of the victims' class saw street prostitution as a last resort to make ends meet when other sources of income were not available and the Workhouse was not an option. Others were working the streets fulltime but judging from what I've read in Mayhew et al., there were not a lot of clear-cut biographies in that class in the East End, and I think that also goes for the victims.

            Gre,

            Boris

            ~ All perils, specially malignant, are recurrent - Thomas De Quincey ~

            Comment


            • "US Federal and State Prostitution Laws and Related Punishments



              Presented below are federal laws on prostitution, state laws on prostitution, and Nevada county laws on prostitution. Prostitution is illegal in the United States with the exception of 10 Nevada counties. On Nov. 3, 2009, Rhode Island closed a legal loophole that had allowed indoor prostitution to exist since 1980. Most states punish the prostitute and the customer equally; however, nine states have harsher penalties for the customer (CO, KS, MA, MT, NE, NY, NC, TN, UT) and two have harsher penalties for the prostitute (DE, MN)"


              https://prostitution.procon.org/us-f...d-punishments/




              The Baron

              Comment


              • "Prostitution in the United Kingdom


                19th century


                The
                evangelical movement of the 19th century denounced prostitutes and their clients as sinners, and society for tolerating it.[40] The Vagrancy Act 1824 introduced the term "common prostitute" into English Law and criminalised prostitutes with a punishment of up to one month hard labour.[41] The act also made it a crime for a man to live on the earnings of a prostitute (often known as "living off immoral earnings").[42]

                Victorian morality held that prostitution was a terrible evil, for the young women, for the men and for all of society. One of the first pieces of legislation introduced during the Victorian period to restrict prostitution was the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which made it an offence for common prostitutes to assemble at any "place of public resort" such as a coffee shop.[43]"


                https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pros...United_Kingdom



                The Baron

                Comment


                • As has been pointed out, when people make a huge fuss about labeling them prostitutes, when it is clear to any rational person that they were engaged in prostitution, then yeah, there's a moral judgement being made on the act of prostitution. No one is disputing any other profession of any other player listed in the newspapers, other than this sole occupation, which they were no doubt engaged.

                  They were prostitutes. Dissembling about it as if it is some slur upon them is straight up sexist. What the Victorians thought of prostitutes, is irrelevant. What the discourse was then, or what the killer's views of these women are is likewise irrelevant. Because we aren't living in the 19th century any more and we aren't obligated to entertain their antiquated values or thoughts when justifying OUR discourse. They were prostitutes. They exchanged sex for money.

                  And attempting to whitewash their lives, as if that's doing them some kind of a service, is sexist. Those who argue vehemently against labeling them as prostitutes no doubt have very judgmental views about sex workers in general. Probably ought to examine why that is, precisely. Because they weren't selling flowers at 1:30 in the morning to earn their doss money.

                  Let all Oz be agreed;
                  I'm Wicked through and through.

                  Comment


                  • But we know how prostitutes have been denounced, denigrated and mistreated up to the present day. This is irrelevant to the point at hand which is that it’s being suggested that we shouldn’t call the ripper’s victims prostitutes. This is ludicrous and achieves nothing. If someone delivers the mail each day then we can call them a Postman. If someone sells themselves for money then they are a prostitute (although of course that word tends to be replaced with ‘sex worker’ these days) Part-time, full-time or even very occasional it makes no difference. If there was evidence that these women never engaged in prostitution then there might be a point but all of the evidence points the other way.

                    We know how Victorian morality viewed prostitutes. By calling someone a prostitute we aren’t agreeing with that opinion. We are just stating a fact. We don’t call Polly Nichols a prostitute because we think that she was a terrible, immoral, wicked person. We call Polly Nichols a prostitute because the overwhelming evidence tells us that she engaged in prostitution. From necessity of course.

                    This issue should be black and white. Why is it being pursued?

                    Ally’s just summed it up but her post appeared at the same time as mine.
                    Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 11-25-2021, 10:17 PM.
                    Regards

                    Sir Herlock Sholmes



                    “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason – they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple about their wingnut delusions.”

                    “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”

                    Comment


                    • I will add though that we shouldn’t define these women simply as prostitutes of course. They were human beings and women first and foremost. Woman in horrendous circumstances. And they were victims of those circumstances as much as they were victims of the person that has come to be known as Jack the Ripper. But we have to accept the reality that they were women forced by circumstances into prostitution. This isn’t a moral judgment it’s simply a factual statement.
                      Regards

                      Sir Herlock Sholmes



                      “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason – they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple about their wingnut delusions.”

                      “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”

                      Comment


                      • But Herlock,it is ludicrous and achieves nothing by calling them prostitutes.It isn't a case that I am denying that prostitution didn't exist,I am questioning whether there is evidence the Ripper's victims were proven to be, or had been prostitutes.
                        Let us take the claim that the police expressed that view.I know of no police statement,that collectively or singly, states the police were familier or knew the victims prior to their death.So how then could the police state with conviction the victims were or had been prostitutes.All the police had was information given by friends,relations,or aquaintances.That the police knew,is as far as I can recant,taken from an interview between a police officer and Nichols husband.It was the husband who made the allegations,not the police,but that fact has been twisted to give the impression it was evidence the police accepted as factual.No one knows how the police treated those claims.
                        Now Holland,a friend is claimed as saying Nichols would do anything to get by,or words to that effect,,but Holland didn't use the word prostitution,so it cannot be reasonably argued,that the probability is overwhelming that prostitution was part of that anything.
                        Now to William Nichols,the husband,wrongly claimed as stating he knew she prostituted herself.What William Nichols claimed,was that he had heard ,from other people,she was living by prostitution.As he also claimed his last contact with Polly had been in 1885,three years previous to her death,it's doubtful his evidence proves anything.Just one other thing,it appears William Nichols left his wife for another woman,that is when the marriage started to flounder,but Polly,left with 5 children,is remembered as the wrongdoer.
                        So in conclusion,a lot of hearsay,but no firm proof of prostitution by the victims.

                        Comment


                        • Hey Herlock,

                          Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                          This issue should be black and white. Why is it being pursued?
                          there is no issue as far as I am concerned, the world just never was black and white and never will be. I for myself am not going to ignore the details of the victims' biographies just because of some current line of thinking about what constitutes sexism and what does not. I'm at a loss as to why THAT is being pursued.

                          Gre,

                          Boris
                          ~ All perils, specially malignant, are recurrent - Thomas De Quincey ~

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by harry View Post
                            But Herlock,it is ludicrous and achieves nothing by calling them prostitutes.It isn't a case that I am denying that prostitution didn't exist,I am questioning whether there is evidence the Ripper's victims were proven to be, or had been prostitutes.
                            Let us take the claim that the police expressed that view.I know of no police statement,that collectively or singly, states the police were familier or knew the victims prior to their death.So how then could the police state with conviction the victims were or had been prostitutes.All the police had was information given by friends,relations,or aquaintances.That the police knew,is as far as I can recant,taken from an interview between a police officer and Nichols husband.It was the husband who made the allegations,not the police,but that fact has been twisted to give the impression it was evidence the police accepted as factual.No one knows how the police treated those claims.
                            Now Holland,a friend is claimed as saying Nichols would do anything to get by,or words to that effect,,but Holland didn't use the word prostitution,so it cannot be reasonably argued,that the probability is overwhelming that prostitution was part of that anything.
                            Now to William Nichols,the husband,wrongly claimed as stating he knew she prostituted herself.What William Nichols claimed,was that he had heard ,from other people,she was living by prostitution.As he also claimed his last contact with Polly had been in 1885,three years previous to her death,it's doubtful his evidence proves anything.Just one other thing,it appears William Nichols left his wife for another woman,that is when the marriage started to flounder,but Polly,left with 5 children,is remembered as the wrongdoer.
                            So in conclusion,a lot of hearsay,but no firm proof of prostitution by the victims.
                            I’m sorry but the only thing that can be called ludicrous is the denial of what information that has come down to us and the unreasonable request for impossible levels of evidence.

                            As Jon posted earlier. Helson:

                            ”For some time he allowed her five shillings per week, but in 1882, at having come to his knowledge that she was living the life of a prostitute, he discontinued the allowance. In consequence of this she became chargeable to the guardians of the Parish of Lambeth, by whom the husband was summoned to show cause as to why he should not be ordered to contribute towards her support, and these facts being proved, the summons was dismissed.”

                            The police didn’t just take Nichols word for it. They had to look into his claim before a decision could be arrived at. They did and the facts were proved. This one alone is a slam dunk Harry.

                            Crossingham was unequivocally stated that he’d known her for 16 months as a prostitute.

                            This wasn’t Mayfair or Belgravia where the accusation of prostitution would have been a shock/horror issue. Prostitution was rife in Whitechapel as you know Harry and so claiming that someone indulged in Prostitution was no more shocking than being called a pickpocket. Crossingham wouldn’t therefore have been using it to blacken her name. In deed it might be asked why he would want to raise the suggestion that he allowed prostitution on the premises.

                            The attempted ‘defence’ of how she’d intended to earn her doss money at 2.30am if not from prostitution is pretty desperate I’m afraid.

                            Mary Nichols engaged in prostitution. This is as near to a proven fact as we can get. Anyone judging this evidence reasonably would say that it’s been proven easily beyond all reasonable doubt.

                            Then when you have people like friends of these women who clearly wanted to respect their memories mentioning or blatantly implying prostitution it simply has to be a case of fingers in the ears and a hand over the eyes to deny it. There really can be no doubt about this Harry. It’s proven beyond any reasonable level of doubt. I even think that this is being too cautious. They engaged in prostitution…end of story.

                            The call for more evidence is pointless Harry. A hypothetical for you:

                            We read of a Whitechapel man that Inspector Smith said “he was a violent bugger; always spoiling for a fight.” Then we had his ex-wife saying “every time he came back from the pub he used to knock me about.” Then his best friend said “he was a good bloke who’d do anyone a good turn. Ok, he had a bit of a temper and could get a bit tasty after a few pints.”

                            We have no official documents about the above. No police or court statements. Do we say that we shouldn’t label this bloke as a violent man or do we say that the events points to him certainly being inclined to violence?

                            I think that we all know the answer to that one Harry.
                            Regards

                            Sir Herlock Sholmes



                            “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason – they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple about their wingnut delusions.”

                            “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by harry View Post
                              I know of no police statement,that collectively or singly, states the police were familier or knew the victims prior to their death.So how then could the police state with conviction the victims were or had been prostitutes.All the police had was information given by friends,relations,or aquaintances.
                              An early report in the Irish Times, in regard to the Berner street victim, says:

                              The murdered woman has not been identified, and, indeed, up to the present, none but the doctors have been allowed to enter Cable street Mortuary, where the body lies. It may be stated, however, that the police authorities at Leman street do not share the belief which prevails in the neighbourhood that the woman is a stranger to the Whitechapel district, and was decoyed there from some other part of London. On the contrary, they believe her to have been both a resident in the neighbourhood, and a member of the same unfortunate [c]lass to which the former victims belonged. However this may be, both her clothing and general appearance, according to those who w[e]re present when the ghastly discovery was made - for the police have apparently strict orders to close all channels of information to members of the Press - seem to indicate that she had not sunk so low as Chapman, the last of the unfortunate women murdered.

                              Leman street's opinion must have had something to do with information provided by beat constables, and Smith did say that when he first saw the deceased, he recognized her at once. On the other hand, Stride was found with no money on her. It would be easy to suppose that that was because she had spent it, but she was not known to have entered a pub after 11pm.

                              So in Stride's case, we are dealing with subjective probabilities. The morally correct, in contrast, obviously deal with subjective certainties. You can't win with those types. You can only join them, or ignore them.
                              Andrew's the man, that is not blamed for nothing

                              Comment


                              • And of course we know that Stride, living in poverty in Sweden, resorted to prostitution. Whitechapel was hardly the land of milk and honey.
                                Regards

                                Sir Herlock Sholmes



                                “Conspiracy theorists, she knew, were paranoid by definition, and usually with good reason – they were indeed being watched, largely because they were standing on an upturned bucket, haranguing the sheeple about their wingnut delusions.”

                                “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”

                                Comment

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