Jack the Ripper, the exhibition…

// 5 June 2008

Over at the End Violence Against Women blog, Finn Mackay has a review up of the new ‘Jack the Ripper’ exhibition at the Museum in Docklands.

Anyway, I’ve been hearing a lot about this exhibition – both complaints about the advertising for it, but also some signs that they consulted quite widely before it was launched – including the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution.

It sounds horrible:

The press cuttings reproduced in the exhibition illustrate this, showing us that views towards women in prostitution have not changed much. The articles are obsessed with the gory details of how the women were killed, are clear to point out that they were involved in prostitution and prompt the reader to make all the judgements that go with that. It reminded me that society seems so much more interested in prostituted women when they are dead. But only if they are killed in a spectacularly gory way that is, and if there are a lot of killings at once, otherwise nobody is that bothered. Because of course, women are killed and assaulted every day and this never hits the headlines, quite simply: it’s so common it isn’t news.

Finn points out how ghoulish it is that so much attention is being lavished on ‘Jack the Ripper’, and he’s turned into a bit of an anti-hero. I think this detail speaks volumes:

When I left I felt rather sullied, and found myself wondering what I’d been part of. I couldn’t wait to get outside into the fresh air and sunlight so I chose not to take up the offer, advertised on my ticket, of a “Jack the Ripper meal” at the Museum’s attached cafĂ©. Perhaps I missed out by not stopping to taste their take on “what Jack would have dined on..”. But then, gory details of woman killing doesn’t do much for my appetite.

Comments From You

Catherine Redfern // Posted 5 June 2008 at 1:14 pm

I’m very reliably informed that the vast majority of “Ripperologists” as they term themselves (i.e. those who research and study into the Ripper mystery in an occassionally obsessive way), are men. Interesting.

Louise // Posted 5 June 2008 at 7:57 pm

Outside Aldgate East tube there is an advertisement for “Jack the Ripper” tours @ 7pm. Not sure if they are every night but it is pretty sensationalist.

I mean, is there any real analysis of the historical period of the time including gender and class? Doubtful.

I don’t know, it is just so ghoulish and horrible.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 5 June 2008 at 9:51 pm

Yes Louise there are at least three books which focus on male violence committed against women of all classes within the 19th century. They are: Everday Violence in Britain, 1850-150 edited by Shani D’Cruze, Sex Crime in The News by Keith Soothill and Sylvia Walby and also Media and Violence by Karen Boyle. I’ve carried out considerable research on male violence against women within the 19th century and how it was re-presented to the public via the then fast growing newspaper industry. I highly recommend all the above books because what happened in respect of how the Ripper was portrayed is still impacting on all women today.

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