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A Ripperologist's Response To Rubenhold & "The Five"

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  • A Ripperologist's Response To Rubenhold & "The Five"

    A Ripperologist’s Response to Ms. Rubenhold and “The Five”

    To the Times, regarding an article that appeared in the February 11th edition of the paper, written by Jack Malvern (titled “Jack the Ripper tour mural to remember his victims”):

    As someone who has studied the history of these murders for more than twenty five years, I have no reservations in acknowledging that I would be considered by modern definition a “Ripperologist”. Ms. Rubenhold’s recent, often malicious comments regarding those who have more than a passing interest in the history of these crimes have distorted the perception of the loose community of “Ripperology”. She has denigrated the field by implying inherent misogyny and male-dominated perspective. This stands to be corrected.

    I am not a social historian, nor am I an academic; I am, however, infinitely more acquainted with the collective Ripperological community than, apparently, Ms. Rubenhold. I cannot speak for any particular group, but I personally take offence with some of Ms. Rubenhold’s assertions. By conflating the groups and individuals who are serious about this subject with the exploitative, often tasteless groups and individuals who are more interested in shock, gore and profit, the social historian/author has done a disservice, not only to those of us with true interest, but also to her credibility as “A Jack the Ripper expert”, as she is described in another recent article.

    There is no doubt that cranks and charlatans have infiltrated the overlapping circles that embrace the studies of the history and mystery of these gruesome crimes. There also is no doubt that Ms. Rubenhold has been subjected to vile and unwarranted attacks by fringe and agenda-driven imposters, but her refusal to differentiate between the field and the industry or engage with those of us who would like to counter some of her arguments with experience and perspective does not sit well with me.

    The premise of a mural to memorialise the victims of a brutal murderer sounds, on the surface, like an honourable and noble idea. Sadly, it appears more and more like something else. Ms. Rubenhold has engaged in a blatantly hypocritical campaign of misinformation, distortion and exploitation, all at the expense of the “victims” she purports to be championing. Without entertaining the preposterous claims that the victims in question were simply branded as sex-workers without credible evidence in support (which is probably the primary disagreement of Ripperologists), it is necessary here to address a deeper issue.

    The core of genuine Ripperologists continues to strive for proper historical perspective in respect to the crimes and times of “Jack the Ripper” and those horrible murders. So many of us – authors, historians, “armchair detectives”, “enthusiasts”, etc. have invested significant time and effort (with little or no financial reward) that financially motivated crusades such as is being undertaken by Ms. Rubenhold are rightfully perceived by some of us as grossly offensive.

    The gripe is not with Ms. Rubenhold personally or her otherwise admirable work, nor is it about the genuine concern about remembering the victims as human beings. The issue at hand is that she is using this manufactured controversy, not out of genuine respect for the victims (there were actually eleven woman who were included in the Whitechapel murders file), but for notoriety and financial gain. Of course her publisher, as well as Waterstones, is complicit in perpetuating this hypocrisy. This is no less exploitation than that which Ms. Rubenhold appears to rail against. “The Five”, as well as the other murdered women, and those who suffered through those difficult times who have been forgotten because their fates were less dramatic, deserve the respect of being remembered not only as victims, but as real people. But the victims of “Jack the Ripper” were not martyrs, nor are they any more deserving of memorialization than any of those who endured the hardships of living in the Victorian East End.

    Ms. Rubenhold’s book “The Five: The Untold Lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper” could have been a most important work, not marginalized, but embraced by the Ripperological community, had she chosen to engage with, instead of antagonize the true “experts” in the field. We are not all simply “self-styled amateur historians who took offence to the book’s marketing message” nor are we simply “those men who pride themselves on their Ripper expertise, otherwise known as Ripperologists”, we are a diverse community of men and women.

    According to printed accounts, Ms. Rubenhold has claimed to have “uncovered a shocking myth about the serial killer”, claimed Ripperologists have historically been guilty of “ignoring key facts” and made such absurd statements as “the moment you realise this is a real person who did this to real people, it stops being funny”…None of this is, or has ever been “funny”.
    Some other examples of Ms. Rubenhold’s skewed perspective:
    From a blog posted by Mark Skinner on the 3rd February, 2020, from Ms. Rubenhold: “Apart from a small booklet containing fifty-seven pages of text, nothing else on the subject existed” (relating to a history of the victims). This is clearly in reference to The Victims of Jack the Ripper, by Neal Stubbings Shelden, published by the small independent Inklings Press in 2007, which, despite Rubenhold’s dismissive comments, remains a landmark in Ripperological studies. Any serious student of the case will recognize consistent threads of interest/inquiry into the lives of the victims prior to and subsequently.

    Another recent accusation by Ms. Rubenhold involes “Rippercast”, a podcast dedicated to the subject, where the author/social historian is quoted in the above referenced blog: “Perhaps the lowest point was the two-hour podcast recorded by a group of Ripperologists who tore apart The Five chapter by chapter, before comparing me to the Holocaust denier David Irving”. This podcast is currently being transcribed in its entirety, to be released in the forthcoming issue of the free e-magazine Ripperologist.

    More quotes from the blog:
    “I had completely disrupted the Ripper narrative. This narrative means a great deal to many people. Some have invested decades of their lives trying to identify the killer, others have built an identity for themselves around being a Ripperologist. Not only am I an outsider (and a woman), but fundamentally, The Five challenges the very validity of the pursuit of Ripperology. Ripperology likes to deal in what it cites as ‘facts’, but in researching The Five, I soon learned that these ‘facts’ are derived from a deeply problematic body of evidence.”
    And later:
    “Jack the Ripper’s identity is irrelevant, and for some people that ‘fact’ is just too disturbing.”

    What is disturbing to “Ripperologists” like myself, is this agenda-driven attempt to subvert the efforts of a generally honest and open-minded community.

    There is no “official” voice for the collective group known as “Ripperologists”, but I believe my opinions are not unique.

    Again, “The Five” could have been one of the best “Ripper” books, from a social history perspective, but it has been permanently tarnished by the author’s misguided efforts to subvert this “memorial” by using it as a marketing tool. The author has, presumably, already been rewarded by her efforts, but, on purely ethical grounds, her unwillingness to engage in any meaningful way with “Ripperologists” speaks volumes about her true motivations.

    There is always room for honest debate and discussion. Exploitation should not be tolerated, and should be called out accordingly.

    John Malcolm
    To Join JTR Forums :

  • #2
    So, no chance of being published then. The censorship continues.
    Thanks for your time,
    dusty miller


    • #3
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