How best to celebrate London's astonishing tradition of feminism? Sack off the ladies, ignore the suffragettes and try to shake some pounds loose from tourist pockets with gore-soaked tales of Jack The Ripper's brutal murdering of women, natch. Or at least that's what's happened with 'the Museum of Women's History' down in Whitechapel. The plans that they submitted to Tower Hamlets council claimed to be setting up 'the first women's museum in the UK' and featured photos of suffragettes to support its supposedly female-centric worldview. However, what they're actually opening is called 'The Jack The Ripper Museum' – and judging by the blood-smeared logo, its attempt to solemnly commemorate womanhood involves talking about the amount of blood they shed when you repeatedly stab them.
Local residents are up in arms and Tower Hamlets council are 'investigating the extent to which unauthorised works may have been carried out'. An explanation for how this has happened? According to Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the (lack of) brains behind the project – and, crazily, Google's ex-diversity chief – 'We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper.' Will it be an interesting exploration of the lives of Ripper-era woman? Until it opens on Tuesday, we won't know for sure. But given that their 'About' section on their website doesn't even mention the word 'women' once in its overall summary of the museum's concept, we're not holding our breath (although if you scroll down you can see some talk of those double-X chromosomed creatures later on). Also, isn't it a tad suspicious that according to the site's blurb on the museum's founder, he's been wanting to do this since 2008 - way earlier than the Ripper-free planning application was submitted? Ah, well. Whatever. We'll never know the answer. Plus, in fairness, sometimes plans change partway through due to reasons beyond your circumstances. Although we'd have felt more comfortable with it if they'd opted for a different name. The Museum of Misleading Bullshit, perhaps.
There will be a protest outside the 'museum' at 6pm on Wednesday 5 August.