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Continued: Myth-busting the best urban legends

  • Article by: REBECCA NAPPI , Spokesman-Review
  • Last update: September 29, 2013 - 4:03 PM

What’s fun about this one? Its deeper meanings lie in the context of the 1960s.

The urban legend spoke to societal fears that women were getting “looser” just like the loose boys who couldn’t be expected to control themselves, theorized Neal Litherland, a blogger and writer from Indiana who describes himself as a “genre-hopping tale teller who isn’t shy about taking his readers to some of the stranger corners of the human heart.”

In an online essay about this urban legend, Litherland wrote: “Though sexually frustrated and upset, the boy realizes that if his girl had let him have sex with her that the maniac would have killed them both. Thus it shows that it is a woman’s responsibility to take the reins of sexual behavior firmly in hand, and that men should always bow to the woman’s lead.”

And the story, told around every campfire in the 1960s, reflected Cold War worries, too.

“The hook is often portrayed looking like a Soviet sickle,” Litherland said. “It was thought that ideas like communism, and its elimination of religion and morality, would destroy youth’s upstanding honor and American traditions.”

Black widows in beehives

The beehive — the big, ratted hairdo that indeed looked like a beehive — backcombed its way into mass popularity in the early 1960s.

The story: A teen ratted her hair into a beehive, sprayed it into stiffness and neglected to wash it for weeks because of the hassle of ratting and spraying. Unbeknownst to her, a black widow spider crawled in, built a nest, laid eggs and when dozens of the eggs hatched, they bit the teen’s skull, killing her.

True or false? False, according to The urban legend disappeared in the 1970s when straight, long hair rendered beehives old-fashioned.

However, the urban legend washed back into popular culture in the 1990s. With some modifications.

The victim was a man. The hairdo, dreadlocks. The spiders, unidentified.

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