Monday, April 9, 2012
The REAL Ripper
The "real" Jack the Ripper--on whom Shaketown's Ripper was modeled--murdered five prostitutes in London in 1888. He was never caught or identified, and may have been responsible for many more deaths. The murders occurred in Britain at a critical moment when feminist politics challenged social norms, and the country witnessed intense conflict over gender and class divisions--the unrest spread to America. Contradictory interpretations of feminine roles in society transformed the Ripper into a cautionary tale, a mythic warning to women on the perils of sexuality. The Victorian separation of "proper" women into objects of chaste worship and "soiled doves" was one of the reasons for the popularity of prostitution. However, for many women, a foray into prostitution was neither dangerous nor a life sentence. In Shaketown, Opal's dream of saving up and moving to Seattle came true for many-- it wasn't unusual for women who went into "the trade" to conserve the money they earned and find legitimate work and a new life under a new name.