Picture yourself as a woman in the late 17th Century, walking down the dark streets of London at night. You could be out for many reasons, minding your own business for all you know. However, what you wouldn’t expect is someone jumping out of thin air to whip you on your buttocks and disappearing from the scene within a matter of seconds! These unfortunate happenings are not fictionalized, rather a chain of actual events on London’s streets after sunset.
The daunting attacks were first reported in around 1672, and it was made pretty clear that the streets of central London were no longer safe for English women to roam around after sunset. The assailant was nicknamed as “Whipping Tom,” but he never gained much attention as there were no severe reports or perhaps very little information about the perpetuity of these unfortunate happenings. Eventually, the rumors faded and everything went back to normal until one day, nine years later, a woman was attacked, and this time it was a lot worse. It was a servant maid who fell prey to the attacker as she went out looking for her master on New Street. As she passed by a corner oblivious of what was about to happen, the attacker abruptly seized her from the back with sheer force, laid her across his knees, pulled her linen up, and whipped her with daunting force. Violated repugnantly, she cried out for help. Panting and crying piteously for help, she was in deep shock as to what had just happened. Within seconds, the attacker snapped away and disappeared in thin air.
Apart from Oliver Twist being wrongfully convicted of treason, this was an alarming situation that bothered the British in 1681. The number of attacks began to increase with complaints coming from various areas of London. The attacker operated in specific vicinity between Fleet Street, Strand & Holborn, where he carefully picked his prey. He would follow the women in dark courtyards or alleys, grab her, lift up her dress, whip her buttocks mercilessly multiple times and shout “Spanko” before disappearing into thin air. The women of London were terrorized and the authorities failed to make any potential developments to catch the attacker. It started happening every night and the austerity of Whipping Tom was so intense that locals began to presume that he possessed supernatural powers. No man was considered to commit such a lamentable act without the Devil’s aid and vanish. As a result of these attacks, women were forced to carry penknives and other sharp tools when going out on the streets. It was always risky.
Amid the persistence of these daunting events, the public was enraged and questioned London’s constabulary. Sometimes men would dress as women to catch the Whipping Tom’s attention to apprehend him, but there was no luck. Despite all efforts, there was no progress. Instead, a cry of “Spanko” was heard in the dark alleys, followed by the scream of a terrorized woman. It seemed like the situation was getting out of control and a state of fear enveloped the streets of London.
After a meticulous investigation and countless failed efforts by the authorities, it is said that they were able to identify Whipping Tom as a local haberdasher with his accomplice. Although the arrest is not authenticated and bears little credibility, a book titled “Whipping Tom Brought to Light & Exposed to View” was written about these attacks and was anonymously released as well. The title of “Whipping Tom” actually became an epitome of mockery for the authorities as the attackers of such nature just craved to adopt the nickname and derive arousal from such preposterous acts.
The third and the last known spree of violating women was started in late 1712 in Hackney, a village outside London. It is regarded to be the most difficult one to be rescinded. The third one to attain the title of Whipping Tom devoted himself rather deeply to the job. He would follow his targets into the dark alleys or even barely lit courtyards where the visibility was very dull. He mainly remained active in the countryside and used an even more vicious approach as he used a birch rod to violate the woman who fell victim to his horrible acts. Sometimes he would also use his bare hand and hit the victims on their buttocks. He assaulted around 70 women between 10th October and 1st December 1712.
Later on, a local man named Thomas Wallis was captured after he confessed to the attacks. If Wallis had not been arrested, he had planned to attack a hundred women before Christmas, then wait for the Twelve Days of Christmas to pass, and continue his crime spree in the New Year. He claimed that the reason behind his barbarous crimes was a woman with whom he had deep feelings for. He believed that she was false to him, for which he held all the women accountable.
Imagine the agony and antagonizing pain the victims would have been through because of these vindictive lunatics. The men have overpowered and violated women throughout human history and it is certainly not a justification of catharsis or even the means to gain arousal by victimizing women. Is it that the women are just weak, enfeebled, inferior, and not resilient enough to retort verbally or non-verbally? The answer is still to be found, but women are harassed and violated ruthlessly by the glorified versions of Whipping Toms till today.