Jack the Ripper, the exhibition…

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 café. 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.