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Point To Ponder : Prostitute Or Destitute ?

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  • Anna Morris
    replied
    Elizabeth Short/ Black Dahlia lived an irregular life for the times and she was horribly murdered. Many efforts have portrayed her as a prostitute but probably she was not. A police investigator on the case said she was a tease, luring men but not following through. Aspects of the murder, IMO, show that as a motive.

    Fast forward to the 1970's and we had Ted Bundy who preyed on college girls. That caused instant outrage and no one dared insinuate those girls were prostitutes. There have been plenty of U.S. serial killers who killed prostitutes but Bundy is an especially noticed SK who avoided prostitutes as victims. Maybe this example helps weaken the old stereotype that women who get attacked 'did something wrong.'

    Otherwise, since the internet can drive writing styles, it looks like true crime subjects are recorded in a new way. I have noticed if I want to do a quick search, say Wikipedia, about a certain killer, an entry on the CRIME comes up, not an article about the killer. The CRIME entry focuses on the victims and in lesser known cases it is hard to find a quick overview of the perpetrators. Expect in future that JtR won't have his own article but he will be an addition to a sociological study of the Whitechapel murders, autumn 1888.

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  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post
    Hi Caz.

    I have no beef—just making conversation. I also have unusually thick skin, so even if Rubenhold's supporters are calling me (and you!) voyeurs and a creeps, I’d still like to understand what is egging them on.

    Do you think it is possible for someone to be technically wrong, but still be “emotionally” right?

    Isn’t this why people tend to argue even if they can’t logically defend their position? Or why they might cheat on the “facts”?

    I concede that Rubenhold is technically wrong about a lot of things, but I still get a sneaking feeling that she is emotionally right about one important element.

    I think her message is this (even if she doesn’t quite appreciate it herself): ‘Jack’ is not killing prostitutes; he is killing those that society deems are prostitutes.

    Splitting hairs? Maybe, but I think the distinction is important and she instinctively realizes something that is eluding many ‘Ripperologists’---that the Jacks and the Sutcliffes of the world are victimizing those that society labels as immoral, degenerate, filthy, etc.

    And that’s why I’m giving you a fair bit of resistance, because you don’t seem to believe it.
    I don't disbelieve it, R.J. But I think we need to let Hallie decide what her message is! She doesn't seem to want to dwell on the killer at all, or his motivation, so I'm not sure how you can read her mind and come to a different conclusion, or suggest she is confused about the message she seeks to give her readers.

    For me, it's all about the evidence, and if the evidence is that the victims encountered their killer while walking the streets, for whatever reason, and were not attacked while they were snoring on the pavement, then what does Hallie think she is doing by suggesting otherwise? Changing or omitting evidence is a rather good way of sending out the wrong message, so your words damn her with faint praise.

    Of course, it wasn’t a lecture that you, Gary, etc. needed to hear. You already knew the women were sisters, daughters, wives, etc. And you suspected, reasonably enough, that at least some of the women WERE soliciting.
    Well thanks for your understanding on that issue, at least. But we all, in the UK, had that lecture way back in the late 70s/early 80s in the wake of Sutcliffe's many random attacks on both prostitutes and non-prostitutes. The victims should never have been treated any differently by society, according to whether or not they had struggled to survive and sold sex to make a miserable existence slightly less miserable. And yet it was obvious that Sutcliffe himself made no such distinction. Any woman out alone became fair game as far as he was concerned. Nobody got a brownie point from him for being a 'good girl'.

    If Hallie sees a need to repeat the lesson in the 21st century, on behalf of just five of the Whitechapel victims, fair enough. She may be right. Society may not have learned to treat all victims of male violence with equal sympathy. But her cause is not helped by twisting the evidence out of true. And is she not in fact pandering to that very prejudice by suggesting some of the victims were not prostitutes and therefore deserved more sympathy from society than they got? Is that not going back to the 1970s and differentiating between women who had to sell themselves and women who didn't?

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:


  • R. J. Palmer
    replied
    Hi Caz.

    I have no beef—just making conversation. I also have unusually thick skin, so even if Rubenhold's supporters are calling me (and you!) voyeurs and a creeps, I’d still like to understand what is egging them on.

    Do you think it is possible for someone to be technically wrong, but still be “emotionally” right?

    Isn’t this why people tend to argue even if they can’t logically defend their position? Or why they might cheat on the “facts”?

    I concede that Rubenhold is technically wrong about a lot of things, but I still get a sneaking feeling that she is emotionally right about one important element.

    I think her message is this (even if she doesn’t quite appreciate it herself): ‘Jack’ is not killing prostitutes; he is killing those that society deems are prostitutes.

    Splitting hairs? Maybe, but I think the distinction is important and she instinctively realizes something that is eluding many ‘Ripperologists’---that the Jacks and the Sutcliffes of the world are victimizing those that society labels as immoral, degenerate, filthy, etc.

    And that’s why I’m giving you a fair bit of resistance, because you don’t seem to believe it.

    I don’t think these are crimes of “convenience,” and I don’t think the murderer’s need is “personal.” There is nothing convenient about killing strangers again and again at the very real risk of getting caught and sent to the gallows. Nor is the murderer obtaining oxygen or food or water from his crimes. Whoever Jack was, he obviously thought so strongly about his actions that he was willing to be captured or killed. He’s a reprobate, yes, but his crimes ‘mattered’ to him in a very intense way.

    More on this some other time.

    Meanwhile, the way I look at it, Rubenhold is taking on the persona of a hostage negotiator. And what do these negotiators tell us? That if we “humanize” or stress the individuality of the hostage, they are less likely to be shot in the back of the head.

    Often it doesn’t work. The abductor is too far gone, and he kills his hostage anyway. But the impulse is understandable; it is why at the news conference the cops bring out the parents to face the camera, showing snapshots of happier days, with mom telling the public (and the abductor) how Katie or Jill is a watercolor painter who rides her bicycle to school, writes poetry, etc. The family and the police are hoping to hell the abductor will have enough humanity to see his hostage as a human being.

    Same impulse with Rubenhold. She wants to give Polly, Kate, and Liz their humanity. I agree that she took it too far, but she couldn’t bring herself to call these women prostitutes. She obviously feels that by using that label, it makes it easier for the Peter Sutcliffes of the world to kill them. Is she wrong about that? I don’t think so. And this must be why her supporters get emotional and ask, “Why is it SO IMPORTANT to “Ripperologists” that the women be prostitutes?” In their mind, such ‘accusations’ only encourage the Jacks and the Sutcliffes—whether those accusations are “true” or not. She's not so much 'sanitizing' the murders, so much as she is attempting to 'sanitize' the victims.

    Of course, it wasn’t a lecture that you, Gary, etc. needed to hear. You already knew the women were sisters, daughters, wives, etc. And you suspected, reasonably enough, that at least some of the women WERE soliciting.

    But you see, Jack pushed on all right buttons. He posed a very ugly, visceral question, and how we answer it, divides us. That’s what terrorists do.

    Leave a comment:


  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post
    Hi Gary - are you confident that if 'Jack' came across a woman stumbling drunkenly down the pavement at 3 a.m. --Polly Nichols?--he wouldn't have strangled and stabbed her? Or a woman resting on the sidewalk, for that matter?

    Are the posters insisting that a woman HAD to be soliciting in order for 'Jack' to become enraged enough to kill her? That, like the 'Dear Boss' writer, he was truly 'down on whores'? (It appears to be what Caz is saying in her last paragraph, when she insists that Rubenhold can't truly "understand" the murders unless she acknowledges the women were soliciting).

    Yet, except as a matter of 'modus operandi,' --a way of luring a woman into a dark corner--(and I am not sure 'Jack' even bothered to attempt that in the case of Liz Stride; he seems to have just attacked her when she was standing near the pavement)--no one has convinced me that it mattered one iota to 'Jack' whether he was killing an 'unfortunate' or a 'whore' or a 'houseless creature' or a 'drunk' or a 'bag lady.'

    Yet people say that it DOES matter, and are even getting angry about it. Maybe I'd be angry at Rubenhold, too, if I honestly thought that it mattered.

    Rubenhold may well be wrong about Nichols not soliciting (on the other hand, she could be right...whatever her intentions, Polly may have been too drunk to proceed, gave up, and had simply wandered toward the gate, found it locked, when she was discovered by 'Jack')---but I'm not sure Rubenhold is entirely wrong when she implies that Jack was killing 'houseless creatures' as opposed to 'prostitutes.' The line between the two was mighty thin, wasn't it? Maybe the thinness of that line was part of the 'point'? At its heart, isn't the "political" difference between a 'homeless' person and a derelict why some people tend to get angry about this discussion?

    I can think of four examples in L.A. alone of men who wandered into the slums in order to kill tramps, hobos, and the homeless. Andrei Chikatilo killed, for the most part, homeless youths and girls he met at train-stations--in most cases they weren't "known prostitutes," they were simply runaways or destitute. In Chikatilo's mind, their very existence was an affront to his beloved Communist Party. Next up we have warped nurses who kill the elderly and the sick by smothering them with a pillow or giving them an overdose. Then we have the mass shooters who walk into a gay bar or a mini-mall mainly frequented by Mexicans. There is a 'eugenics' angle to their murders--in their mind they are killing the worthless, the dregs of society, the worn out, the enemies of the people.

    I'm told by the profiling crowd that I am supposed to believe it is "all about sex" with Jack, but I don't see 'Jack' as being fundamentally different than these other murderers, so yes, I feel as if it might be missing the point to insist that he is "only killing prostitutes" (to steal one of Rubenhold's mysterious statements that, for some reason, is in quotation marks).

    Whatever theory one may believe, 'Jack' is not killing Kate Eddowes. He's killing an idea, a symbol, a cultural cliché, a signal, a representation. Whether he sexually abuses his victims or not, I don't think it's about sex. It's about society. It's ALWAYS about society.

    So, in this sense, I disagree with Caz about Sutcliffe and his motivations. Referring to his murders as the 'hobby' of someone who has no greater motivation than getting off on sexual violence does indeed miss the point. In my humble estimation, it misses it by a much wider margin than Rubenhold misses it.
    Hi R.J,

    I'm not sure what your beef is, or why you think some of us would get 'angry' about this discussion. For my part, I'm merely bemused by Hallie's apparent campaign to sanitise the murders by arguing that the victims were not soliciting when attacked, but asleep. If the evidence had supported her argument I cannot imagine ripperologists over the years trying to make that evidence say something different. Why does it matter to Hallie so much, that she would have the evidence say something different about her five chosen victims?

    I'm also not sure how anyone could argue that the victims were killed by someone whose motivation was any more sophisticated than satisfying a sick personal need by murdering and mutilating defenceless females he encountered on the streets. It needn't be about 'sex', but he did pick on females, so are we looking for a seven-stone weakling, who simply didn't have the guts to attack males, even one lying in a drunken stupor?

    It was a tragedy that these women were vulnerable to such a killer, but they clearly were. The most vulnerable might have been a sick, older woman who was sound asleep in a quiet place, while the next most vulnerable may have been in such dire straits that she would go out alone at night and accept any financial opportunity, decent or indecent, offered by a complete stranger. But it might also have been enough for the killer to see a woman and merely imagine her to be in that category. I doubt he was fussy, as long as he thought he could do what he came for and get away with it - the easier she made his life the better. He could love her for being an easy target, and hate her for it at the same time. We can't know whether he preferred his victims conscious and compliant to begin with, or didn't care as long as they gave him no grief. But the evidence is what it is, and suggests that his victims were not lying down and asleep or resting when he struck. An exception would appear to be MJK, although I don't buy the breaking and entering theory and believe the killer began with a woman who was awake and on the move, if weakened by poverty, ill health, alcohol or sheer exhaustion.

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:


  • Anna Morris
    replied
    IMO, JtR killed because something about interactions with those particular women set him off. It could have been conversation having nothing to do with prostitution or maybe some of the cases had to do with prostitution and some not. Those women were available because they were active--walking, resting, wandering, etc.-- on the streets at those places and times. IMO the murders were crimes of opportunity.

    It is possible JtR asked the women to 'walk with' him, meaning prostitution and the women rejected him for one reason or another. I still wonder if JtR wasn't in some way repulsive, frightening or crippled.

    If we put any credence on the Mrs. Kennedy/Mrs. Lewis stories, a creepy man asked women to follow him to, then down, a dark passage. He initially refused to 'treat' them. Since JtR tended to strike after the pubs were closed, maybe Polly, Annie and Kate were not interested in business without payment of a drink?

    None of the victims were found with any money though I still see the farthings at Annie's feet mentioned from time to time. Maybe JtR did not offer payment for services and maybe the women turned him down and he became enraged? It looks like Mary Kelly invited him in and she surely would have demanded money up front but there is always the possibility she rejected him and he followed her home, accessing her room through the broken window or through some other subterfuge.

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  • Gary Barnett
    replied
    No, I’m not confident of that, RJ. But what a coincidence, eh, that in Nichols, Chapman and Kelly, the women he bumped into just happened to have been prostitutes and were out on the streets looking for money in the wee small hours. Stride too as far as her occupation went, but not as far as we know looking for cash on the night of her murder. And if we add in the 6 other WM victims, his % for picking up ‘probstitutes’ is still quite high - possibly 100%.

    As for Kate, either she was stumbling drunkenly through the darkest corner of Mitre Square or she went there willingly with her killer. Or, perhaps she lay down on the cold, hard, damp pavement hoping to get 40 winks before the next beat copper moved her on.

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  • R. J. Palmer
    replied
    Hi Gary - are you confident that if 'Jack' came across a woman stumbling drunkenly down the pavement at 3 a.m. --Polly Nichols?--he wouldn't have strangled and stabbed her? Or a woman resting on the sidewalk, for that matter?

    Are the posters insisting that a woman HAD to be soliciting in order for 'Jack' to become enraged enough to kill her? That, like the 'Dear Boss' writer, he was truly 'down on whores'? (It appears to be what Caz is saying in her last paragraph, when she insists that Rubenhold can't truly "understand" the murders unless she acknowledges the women were soliciting).

    Yet, except as a matter of 'modus operandi,' --a way of luring a woman into a dark corner--(and I am not sure 'Jack' even bothered to attempt that in the case of Liz Stride; he seems to have just attacked her when she was standing near the pavement)--no one has convinced me that it mattered one iota to 'Jack' whether he was killing an 'unfortunate' or a 'whore' or a 'houseless creature' or a 'drunk' or a 'bag lady.'

    Yet people say that it DOES matter, and are even getting angry about it. Maybe I'd be angry at Rubenhold, too, if I honestly thought that it mattered.

    Rubenhold may well be wrong about Nichols not soliciting (on the other hand, she could be right...whatever her intentions, Polly may have been too drunk to proceed, gave up, and had simply wandered toward the gate, found it locked, when she was discovered by 'Jack')---but I'm not sure Rubenhold is entirely wrong when she implies that Jack was killing 'houseless creatures' as opposed to 'prostitutes.' The line between the two was mighty thin, wasn't it? Maybe the thinness of that line was part of the 'point'? At its heart, isn't the "political" difference between a 'homeless' person and a derelict why some people tend to get angry about this discussion?

    I can think of four examples in L.A. alone of men who wandered into the slums in order to kill tramps, hobos, and the homeless. Andrei Chikatilo killed, for the most part, homeless youths and girls he met at train-stations--in most cases they weren't "known prostitutes," they were simply runaways or destitute. In Chikatilo's mind, their very existence was an affront to his beloved Communist Party. Next up we have warped nurses who kill the elderly and the sick by smothering them with a pillow or giving them an overdose. Then we have the mass shooters who walk into a gay bar or a mini-mall mainly frequented by Mexicans. There is a 'eugenics' angle to their murders--in their mind they are killing the worthless, the dregs of society, the worn out, the enemies of the people.

    I'm told by the profiling crowd that I am supposed to believe it is "all about sex" with Jack, but I don't see 'Jack' as being fundamentally different than these other murderers, so yes, I feel as if it might be missing the point to insist that he is "only killing prostitutes" (to steal one of Rubenhold's mysterious statements that, for some reason, is in quotation marks).

    Whatever theory one may believe, 'Jack' is not killing Kate Eddowes. He's killing an idea, a symbol, a cultural cliché, a signal, a representation. Whether he sexually abuses his victims or not, I don't think it's about sex. It's about society. It's ALWAYS about society.

    So, in this sense, I disagree with Caz about Sutcliffe and his motivations. Referring to his murders as the 'hobby' of someone who has no greater motivation than getting off on sexual violence does indeed miss the point. In my humble estimation, it misses it by a much wider margin than Rubenhold misses it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gary Barnett
    replied
    Both, on occasion, I’d say.

    Eddowes is the one that gives me most pause for thought. But why else would she have gone into Mitre Square with a strange (presumably) man? John Kelly had popped his boots so they could eat and yet she had somehow managed to acquire enough money to get roaring drunk. What kind of a reception could she have expected from Kelly if she returned empty-handed? She could have remained in the relative comfort and unquestionable safety of Bishopsgate nick, but no, she wanted to be released so she could go back to where she had likely acquired some money earlier in the evening.

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  • Adam Went
    replied
    Hi all,

    Anna:

    Yes, financial is the key word. We should remember that Liz Stride was cleaning rooms for some money on the day prior to her murder, Catherine Eddowes had not long been back from hop picking, etc etc - I don't mean to claim that prostitution was their only source of income as and when they needed it, they did other things as well. But life for them would've been a day to day proposition, and if that particular day they felt it necessary to earn some more money by soliciting, then that's what they would do. I don't think they would've seen it as so much of a moral conundrum as we do.

    Paul:

    So....you're agreeing with me?

    Dan:

    It's difficult to know what was being spoken about when witnesses only heard fragments of a private conversation, but yes you're probably right about Annie. Certainly it would seem that the went into the backyard of 29 Hanbury of her own free will. We know that she was in very poor health though and I reckon she would've just been feeling very sorry for herself indeed. But if she was approached for that purpose, again, financial gain is financial gain and at Annie's age and with her health failing, she would've had little choice but to take those opportunities when they came along.

    Personally I still don't understand why it's seen as being some sort of moral dilemma or that there's some kind of stigma attached to speaking about what these women did or didn't do to make ends meet - personally I admire them for having the strength to keep on keeping on through what must've been very challenging and upsetting circumstances at times.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

    Leave a comment:


  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post
    Hi Caz. I don't follow.

    Does 'cleaning the street' specifically involve ridding the streets of folks sleeping rough, or can it not refer to 'cleaning the streets' of streetwalkers and other 'undesirables'?
    Either or both, I guess, R.J. But either would presumably involve a killer who was seriously mentally ill, or merely seeking to excuse or justify his gruesome hobby, if only to himself. Such killers may well see their victims as 'scum, filth', but I doubt Sutcliffe was so insane as to think he was really doing society a favour, or that society would see it that way.

    Totally psychotic, of course, and we can make ourselves feel better by saying they were just 'justifying' their lust for ultraviolence, but how do we know this is the correct answer? How do I know this wasn't Sutcliffe's genuinely held belief? Don't people generally hate the people they chose to kill or brutalize? And if so, wouldn't they do it whether the person was soliciting, sleeping rough, stumbling down the sidewalk, or waiting outside a Jewish club?
    Okay, substitute 'justifying' with 'shifting the blame', from themselves to their victims, and you get an idea of why they might need to see their victims as 'blameworthy', in whatever way.

    Why does it matter? In his twisted mind, the killer was killing a 'noun,' wasn't he, and not a verb?
    I don't think it does matter, R.J, except that a certain female author has claimed that some of the ripper victims were murdered because they were rough sleepers and not because they were prostitutes, and the evidence does not lend itself to that conclusion. If she wants to understand why these women were killed, that evidence should matter.

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:


  • R. J. Palmer
    replied
    Originally posted by Caroline Brown View Post
    Considering the evidence that the ripper's victims were not sleeping rough when he attacked them, it seems very unlikely that he saw himself as a 'street cleaner'. I believe Peter Sutcliffe claimed he was cleaning the streets, but this would surely have been just a twisted attempt to justify his lust for violence against women.
    Hi Caz. I don't follow.

    Does 'cleaning the street' specifically involve ridding the streets of folks sleeping rough, or can it not refer to 'cleaning the streets' of streetwalkers and other 'undesirables'?

    I tend to take Sutcliffe's statement at face value, because it is entirely similar to what Chikatilo, Berkowitz, Bianchi, and other killers have said of their victims: they were scum, filth, something that society needed to get rid of.

    Totally psychotic, of course, and we can make ourselves feel better by saying they were just 'justifying' their lust for ultraviolence, but how do we know this is the correct answer? How do I know this wasn't Sutcliffe's genuinely held belief? Don't people generally hate the people they chose to kill or brutalize? And if so, wouldn't they do it whether the person was soliciting, sleeping rough, stumbling down the sidewalk, or waiting outside a Jewish club?

    Why does it matter? In his twisted mind, the killer was killing a 'noun,' wasn't he, and not a verb?

    Leave a comment:


  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Thanks Howie and Anna.

    Considering the evidence that the ripper's victims were not sleeping rough when he attacked them, it seems very unlikely that he saw himself as a 'street cleaner'. I believe Peter Sutcliffe claimed he was cleaning the streets, but this would surely have been just a twisted attempt to justify his lust for violence against women.

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:


  • Anna Morris
    replied
    Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
    Caz

    In India, about 25 years ago, there was a serial killer knkwn as The Stone Man, who killed males while they slept outside.

    Can't think of any others, tbough.

    Xxx
    Thre have been other killers that probably qualify as serial who killed homeless men and women. Most of these crimes seem to be "bum bashing"*, simply battering to death people sleeping on the streets.

    *For those in the UK, "bum" in American English means an unemployed, homeless man, usually alcoholic. From "bum" as in begging for money. Can I bum a dime?

    Leave a comment:


  • Howard Brown
    replied
    Caz

    In India, about 25 years ago, there was a serial killer known as The Stone Man, who killed males while they slept outside.

    Can't think of any others, tbough.

    Xxx

    Leave a comment:


  • Caroline Brown
    replied
    Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
    I LIKE that! "Opportunity to eat and an opportunity to sleep!" That about says it all.
    Thank you Anna.

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    Leave a comment:

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