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Con artist tries to pass off a Jack the Ripper museum as a ‘women’s museum’

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PZ Myers has drawn my attention to a bizarre controversy in London over what was supposed to be a woman-centered history museum and ended up being, no joke, a Jack the Ripper museum. The knife, no pun intended, sinks in even further when you realize that this was sold to the community as “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history.” From the Guardian:

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The man behind the venture is Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former diversity chief at Google. The detailed planning document sent last July by his architects, Waugh Thisleton, in support of the building’s conversion from disused flats into a museum, included pictures of suffragettes and 1970s Asian women campaigning against racial murders around Brick Lane.

It said: “The museum will recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.”

The document cited the closure of Whitechapel’s Women’s Library in Old Castle Street in 2013 to stress that the “Museum of Women’s History”, as it was billed, would be “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history”.

Obviously, the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper were women, and I doubt anyone would protest an exhibit about their lives in such a museum. But an entire museum built around this case is not a “women’s museum”. As people interviewed by the Guardian point out, the location of the museum, on Cable Street, isn’t even really that close to where the murders happened.

Things get even screwier when you hear the asshole who pulled this bait-and-switch trying to defend it. “It is absolutely not celebrating the crimes of Jack the Ripper but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place,” Palmer-Edgecumbe told the Evening Standard. As PZ Myers pointed out, that’s first rate victim-blaming. There is no choice you can make that “got” you killed by a misogynist serial killer. He was the one who created the situation. Plenty of women at the time were prostitutes in the same area and while they were understandably terrified, most survived.

Obviously, what he’s suggesting is that they “got” themselves into prostitution. But again, that phrasing shows a shallow mind that has no business trying to understand these issues. The lives of 19th century English prostitutes is, in fact, an interesting subject. But it’s inherently a social subject as, and I can’t believe this needs pointing out, most of the women who ended up in this situation had very little control over their lives, due to the crushing poverty and other issues that plagued London in that era. No one quarrels, I think, with the idea that these women are a good starting point to talk about that, in no small part because they really do seem to have been chosen at random.

But that’s not really enough to constitute a women’s museum. Prostitutes are hardly the only women living in London in that era, needless to say. And you can’t even understand the role prostitutes  play without understanding the larger context, which is to say how other women lived and why and what part Victorian ideals about women’s roles and female sexuality played in creating what is, by all measures, a historically huge class of women who were sex workers at the time. I have a funny feeling that the Jack the Ripper museum is not interested in any of that.

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Pandagon

Ch-ch-changes…..

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After many years and many server changes and finally landing here at Raw Story, which has taken very good care of us, it's time to say goodbye to Pandagon. I've been blogging under this banner for ten years, after Jesse Taylor asked me to join. He, in turn, had been running this joint since he was in college. A lot has changed since then. I became a journalist, moved from Austin to New York and learned to play Dungeons & Dragons. Jesse became a lawyer and, just this past weekend, a married man.

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Pandagon

Carly Fiorina defends her lie with a whole bunch of lies

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I do like it when Republican candidates sport a resume full of corporate executive work, because it really shows the public how many fools and idiots coast into that position not on merit but on their bullshitting abilities. Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and now we have Carly Fiorina, who just can't understand why her perceived underlings (voters, journalists) won't scurry away, pretending to accept her bullshit like former employees of hers had to do, lest they lost their jobs.

And so it goes that Fiorina, who could make this entire Planned Parenthood controversy go away by saying something like, "I may have misremembered the video, but I still think abortion is wrong," instead is doubling and tripling down. And every time she does, she lies more and more. She was on Meet the Press and, so enamored of the idea that she is perfect and could never do anything wrong, just went to town with the defensive posturing.

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Pandagon

Marco Rubio has an astoundingly low opinion of women’s intelligence

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At RH Reality Check, I covered this story that I wish was getting more press, about how Marco Rubio goes back and forth between suggesting that women who get abortions are greedy monsters who get pregnant for cash:

I just think you’ve created an industry now … a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue for purposes—these centers—for purposes of making a profit off it, as you’ve seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates.

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