Friday, September 12, 2014

Jack the Ripper Isn't a Girl!

A year or so ago, I suddenly became obsessed with Jack the Ripper. I went on a two or three day long murderer spree, combing the internet for information. After that, I abruptly forgot all about it. This week, I was terribly relieved to hear he had been identified through DNA testing. This may not be true, but I have to believe it is. Because the alternative is too disturbing to contemplate. This chapter in "my" life needs to be closed.

While combing through a list of suspects, I came face to face with the terrifying possibility that Jack the Ripper was Jill the Ripper. It's difficult to fully convey how much this upset me. I'm pretty sure the page I linked to contains a pencil drawing of a guess of what she looked like, but the truth is I can't even have that in front of me for long enough to say for sure. The idea, as I remember it, was that she could have been a midwife, someone who could walk around with blood on her clothes without drawing suspicion.

The question is, why does the possibility that a savage serial killer could have been a woman bother me so much? These victims died under the same horrific circumstances regardless of the gender of their killer. But logic doesn't change a thing. The very idea of Jack the Ripper being female makes my blood run cold.

I can speculate. Maybe it's because women are conditioned to fear male violence. I make it a (mostly unconscious) policy to exercise caution around men I don't know. It's not that I think women are angels. There was that girl in seventh grade who wanted to fight me. I could get punched in the face by one, or have money or even my identity stolen. But I guess I've always implicitly trusted other women not to sadistically murder me.

You know how sometimes, you're talking to someone, and you realize they're thinking about the best way to dispose of your body? Neither did I, until I answered an ad on Craigslist after my son was born. A woman claiming to be pregnant with a boy and destitute was soliciting baby things, so I gave her a call. But when we tried to make plans, she started making every excuse she could think of not to meet me at a neutral location. She was working very hard to get me to her house.

"This woman wants to kill me and steal my baby!" I thought. It probably wasn't true, but for a number of reasons didn't seem worth the risk. A year later, I heard of a woman who was murdered in Oregon after answering a very similar ad. It makes you wonder.

So even though I'm semi-confident that the only person who's ever seriously considered killing me was female, I find the idea of a a grizzly, cold-blooded female killer who preys on other women to be uniquely chilling. In many ways, I'm scared to death of women. Even so, they have this way of making me feel like I can relax, let my hair down and not worry a bit about being murdered. A lot of men have this ability too, just not quite as reliably as women do.

I was surprised by my extreme reaction when it first came up, so I discussed it with a few friends. At least one felt differently.

"Jack the Ripper has always freaked me out, but if it was a woman, well, I guess she must have had her reasons."

So do other women find the idea of female evil and violence to be almost unbearable? If so, why do you think that is?

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