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Women in The Vice Industry

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  • Women in The Vice Industry

    In reading the book by David Monaghan, Jack The Ripper's Secret Confession...we learn of a few women who were prolific in crime in London & the East End. In fact they were just as involved with vice as any male counterpart.

    Women such as the notorious madam Mary Jeffries, owner of brothels in Chelsea,Kensington,Hampstead and a torture chamber in Grays Inn Road (pgs. 129-130)

    Birmingham Daily Post
    Friday, September 30, 1887


    ....and her henchman, Elizabeth Hobbs, a.k.a. "Mrs. Travers", who procured and sometimes kidnapped young women at train stations (pg.87)

    Birmingham Daily Post
    Friday, September 30, 1887


    One other well known procuress was Rebecca Jarrett, who by the age of 16 operated a brothel herself. By the time she was 12, Mama Jarrett was selling Rebecca off to men in Cremorne Gardens,Chelsea. Rebecca operated brothels in Manchester, Bristol, and off Marylebone Rd. in London.

    Jarrett collapsed outside a Salvation Army meeting years later, was transferred to the Rescue Home in Hanbury Street operated by Catherine Booth, wife of William Booth the general of the S.A. and from that point on worked on the side of the fence dedicated to eradicating child prostitution.

    In 1885 she played a huge role in the W.T.Stead-led expose of the "industry" by returning to her old haunts...paying another brothel keeper, Nancy Broughton for the rights to 13 year old Eliza Armstrong. General Booth's son Bramwell took the youngster to France and eventually Stead was sent to prison for three months for this affair, which found Jarrett herself sentenced to six months.

    Women were often the perpetrators of misery in LVP life and not just the recipients as we see.
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  • #2
    'Women were often the perpetrators of misery in LVP life and not just the recipients as we see. '

    That is something oft noted, How, in my travels through the LVP.
    But to be fair, I should say that misery inflicted on others was very much a male dominated industry, at a rough guess 98% on the male and 2% on the female. But that 2% was there all right, and they could be extremely vicious.
    But vicious times breeds vicious folks, just to survive sometimes it requires one to come down to the level of the surrounding environment; and in fact very well proven biological experiments with rodents have proven this conclusively, that when territory and environment is squeezed tight by population we can expect a much higher level of aggression, even from the female of the species.
    But despite my good will in this post, I do see an element of that nasty LVP trait in the direction of the thread that tells me you just might be suggesting 'they deserved it'.
    Now I think you know how much that would generate my fury.

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    • #3
      A.P.

      Not sure where anyone would get the vibe that I would suggest women "deserve" ill treatment as doled out in the newspaper reports from back in the day...or where you yanked that "98 %" figure from.

      Women who were capable of leading and operating industries of vice ( brothels, kidnapping set ups, recividist female perps) were equally capable of straightening their asses out with or without a man around.

      You seem to be suggesting that nearly all criminal women were incapable of being responsible for their behavior.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by A.P. Wolf View Post
        But despite my good will in this post, I do see an element of that nasty LVP trait in the direction of the thread that tells me you just might be suggesting 'they deserved it'.
        Now I think you know how much that would generate my fury.
        Actually, Howard in all the years I've known him, is one of the most sympathetic researchers/posters in the field towards the victims. From PMs I KNOW he feels uncomfortable when I call these women whores or the "modern day equivalent of crack whores".

        I'm much more of a hardass on the matter, because I think that giving these women too much sympathy denigrates those women of the era that didn't go that route. Alcoholism is the root cause IMHO of why these women walked the streets for money, and why they placed themselves in harm's way again and again.

        No one deserves to be murdered. But they made choices that put them in Jack's path, and that distinguishes them in my mind from the victims of someone like the BTK scumbag.

        Side question: can we all agree that it was unwise/foolhardy for Stride to be standing outside the club at that hour ?

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        • #5
          There was also one woman I've read about, as an occupation for the women who used to be prostitutes but were now too old for it - her nickname was "Old Stock". I'm not sure now if she was linked to Mary Jeffries or not (?) but her role was to follow younger prostitutes around, who had been sent out by the brothel, and make sure they were doing their jobs properly and wouldn't make off with the nice clothes, etc that had been lent to her to assist in her search for clients. (This is actually an interesting point when you consider the thought that Liz had "dressed up" on the night she was killed.)

          Basically, she was just there to keep an eye on the younger prostitutes of the brothel. This was a common occupation for women who were past their days of soliciting themselves, and was one of the few ways that these older women could make any sort of income, as little as it was worth.

          SirBob: For your question, yes, it was unwise, but it was unwise on the part of all the victims to allow themselves to be caught in a dark, deserted corner with a complete stranger, with nobody else in eyeshot or earshot, during the height of the Whitechapel Murders....

          Unfortunately, for those women, as much as they might not have wanted to go out, it was something that had to be done in order to survive.

          Cheers,
          Adam.

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          • #6
            AW:

            My contention in the previous post is applicable to both men and women.
            I have sympathy for the Have Nots, let me make that clear right off the bat.
            However,when people present LVP women as complete boneheads...who are incapable of distinguishing good from evil, that sort of thinking creates cardboard cutouts of people made of flesh and blood....and is antithetical to the mature study of the Case and the times.

            If anyone thinks that Jeffries or even Jarrett ( who collapsed as a result of her debauchery..and then became a hero simply because she was too old and physically incapable of pursuing her chosen avocation of kidnapping and prossing) had any concern about what they were doing to innocent girls for decades... then they need their head examined. Its as simple as that. These two women weren't alone either.

            These women had their acts together when it came to business and wheeling and dealing....but business that was on the other side of the fence.

            Of course, your typical longtime researcher knows all this.

            It must be a real nailbiting dilemma for the bleeding hearts to read about some brute cop arresting a dashboard Mary like Mrs. Jeffries. I mean, who's he going to side with ? The tool of the male oppressor's system or the recividist female criminal who would otherwise be making cookies if the money wasn't so good in kidnapping 13 year olds....
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            • #7
              Hi Howard

              Just for jolly check out Page 2 here

              http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...9883-2,00.html
              Itsnotrocketsurgery

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Stephen Thomas View Post
                Thank you for sharing the article, Stephen. So street hookers were common in 1957 London. Is that still true today, or have all those cameras changed things?

                Roy

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the article Stephen.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Roy Corduroy View Post
                    Thank you for sharing the article, Stephen. So street hookers were common in 1957 London. Is that still true today, or have all those cameras changed things?
                    Thanks Roy

                    That Time article is quite an eye-opener isn't it but that's the way it was.

                    Most of this stuff these days goes on in private flats and so called massage parlours but all big towns in Britain have areas where street workers operate, standing by the roadside in their regulation Pretty Woman outfits.

                    Mostly crack addicts
                    Itsnotrocketsurgery

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                    • #11
                      How:

                      Well we know that Jack's victims weren't all intellectually incapable - Liz Stride could speak more than one language, for instance. As you say, those of us who have researched for a while know that the truth about these women is that they weren't just street-walking whores as some would have them be.

                      "It must be a real nailbiting dilemma for the bleeding hearts to read about some brute cop arresting a dashboard Mary like Mrs. Jeffries. I mean, who's he going to side with ? The tool of the male oppressor's system or the recividist female criminal who would otherwise be making cookies if the money wasn't so good in kidnapping 13 year olds...."

                      Yes, I mentioned before that then W.T. Stead & Co. had the age of consent lifted from 13 to 16, that there was debate from some members of Parliament about it - not because they thought it was morally wrong, but because they themselves were frequenters of the services of those young teenage girls.

                      You will also find that story of Walter, who once visited a prostitute in a brothel with an agreement on payment of 10 shillings, who then tried to elicit 5 pounds from him afterwards.....Walter went to the window to shout down to a policeman on the beat in the street below, but the policeman, for all his yelling, completely ignored him. Not because he had some sort of hearing problem, but because he had been payed off by the owner of the brothel to turn a blind eye to any of this sort of activity - as it turned out, Walter wasn't the only one who got sucked into this trap. (That is the incident where he wielded a poker or whatever it was, you'll probably read about it in David Monaghan's book.)

                      Stephen:

                      Yes I've heard that most of them are addicted to crack these days - hence the term "crack whores". Atleast Jack's victims sold themselves for money, the women you describe sell themselves for a drug fix.....ugh.

                      Cheers,
                      Adam.

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                      • #12
                        AW:

                        Atleast Jack's victims sold themselves for money, the women you describe sell themselves for a drug fix

                        Back in the LVP women sold themselves for their addiction to alcohol.
                        Same as it ever was Aw...
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                        • #13
                          True - I suppose alcohol does count as a drug as well. But we must also remember that in 1888, women didn't stand much of a chance in society unless they were born into wealth. This was before the days of equal opportunity and ample jobs in the mainstream workforce for women.

                          The difference is that many of the prostitutes you would find in modern day society do it by choice, rather than for survival. LVP prostitutes solicited for alcohol, yes, but also for a bed for the night. A good percentage of modern day prostitutes, as Stephen said, are just keen for their next drug fix....

                          Cheers,
                          Adam.

                          P.S. Nice new avatar, by the way....

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                          • #14
                            Understood AW.

                            I suppose the best way to express it is that now, as then, they solicited for something they didn't have but needed and while modern women involved with prossing could be beggars as LVP destitutes-turned-prostitutes would if needed, they don't because they know they'll get better results offering sex than not offering it.
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                            • #15
                              Many people try to compare aspects of UK prostitution from the LVP with modern times, this never works. Although many people today fall through the safety net that is in place, usually because they are under age runaways who leave home due to physical or sexual abuse or illegal immigrants who can be manipulated by people who will leave them addicted to substances and turn them in to sex workers to pay off the debt owed for their entry to the UK or for their habit. They are then intimidated to such a level it is very rare they take up the offer of help or will approach the Police or other agencies. And for those who drifted in to prostitution to feed a drug habit, clinic places and programmes are available on the national health.
                              There is no need today (like the women in 1888 Whitechapel) for people in a position of extreme need to have to sell themselves for a room or loaf of bread. Today a local authority has a duty of care to the homeless albeit a bed and breakfast, hostel place or a bed in a homeless shelter until permanent accommodation can be sourced (even deposit schemes to make sure they can quickly access privately rented accommodation where Local Authority housing is vastly oversubscribed). The DHSS will pay crisis loans for basic necessities such as food, and there is a network in place for women who are abused by their partners if they should so wish to access the help, and are not too afraid to do so.

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