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Served Cold: 5 Scorned Women Get Their Revenge

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Who shot J. R.? A scorned woman. Who gave Mr. Bobbitt a belated bris? A scorned woman. Who bested Buttafuoco? You guessed it. Those guys could have picked up a thing or two from these poor saps, who learned not to upset the fairer sex the hard way.

1. "Mrs. Jack Johnson"

Black heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson was known for two things: (1) his conquests in the ring and (2) his conquests of the fairer sex. One of his favorites of the latter was Belle Schreiber, a prostitute at Chicago's glitzy Everleigh brothel. And though the Everleigh was for whites only, Johnson knew how to pull a few strings. In truth, Belle was only one of five white Everleigh girls Johnson saw, but when he married not one but two white women, Belle was crushed. Her high-class career ruined by her widely publicized affair with Johnson, Schreiber was broke and strung out on absinthe and drugs. Agreeing to testify for the government in their prosecution of Johnson for violating the 1910 Mann Act (which outlawed taking a woman across state lines for the "purpose of prostitution or debauchery") Belle's testimony got him a year in prison and seven years of exile in Canada. She also got her way: The stint put an end to Johnson, ruining his stellar boxing career.

2. Boudicca, One Bad British Babe

Picture 183.pngIn the year 60 CE, the Romans were busy bringing Britain under their heel. Since anyone who resisted was crushed, it's no wonder that Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe in southeast Britain, decided  to cooperate and offered to share her realm with Roman emperor Nero. Instead, Nero had a governor declare the region a slave province, and took Boudicca into custody (did Nero ever do anything right?). She was then flogged publicly while her two daughters were raped by Roman soldiers. Not a particularly clever move. In response, Boudicca raised an army, marched on the Roman city of Colchester, and burned it with thousands of Roman colonists trapped inside. Her army grew until it became unwieldy, and was eventually defeated by a disciplined Roman army. Defiant to the end, Boudicca killed herself on the battlefield rather than surrender.

3. Perfect for the Part of Tyrant: Lady Mao

Picture 143.pngBefore the Communists took power under Mao Zedong, China had a thriving film industry centered in Shanghai. There, as in Hollywood, thousands of young actresses flocked to the city hoping to become stars. One did become a star, but not in the way she'd originally intended. Her stage name was Lan Ping ("Blue Apple"), and as an actress she never got the big roles. Frustrated by her career and increasingly resentful of the system, Ms. Apple fell in love with and married a young revolutionary named Mao. Of course, her demeanor was to change quickly. As Lady Mao, she became the head of the notorious Gang of Four, who presided over their own purge of "unacceptable" elements. This reign of terror, ironically called the Cultural Revolution, is one of the most terrifying and chaotic periods in China's history, where freedom of thought and diverse opinions were effectively outlawed. As a former actress, Lady Mao put herself in charge of the film industry, and banned films that she felt did not exemplify good Communist values— and any film directed by someone who'd passed her over. Many were executed for their so-called crimes, and her ruthlessness earned her a nickname: "the White-Boned Demon."

4. Rhymes with "Odious"

Picture 162.pngSalome gets a lot of misdirected criticism for the death of John the Baptist, but the real villain of the story was her mother, Herodias. The Roman wife of Herod Philip, Herodias had come to Palestine with her beautiful daughter, Salome, and married her husband's brother, Herod Antipas. John the Baptist looked none too kindly on this royal scandal and made no secret of his disdain for the arrangement. In an effort to appease his new wife's anger, Herod reluctantly had John imprisoned. You probably know the rest: Herod threw himself a birthday bash, and Salome danced the oh-so-sexy Dance of the Seven Veils. Delighted, drunk, and probably more than a little lecherous, Herod granted her anything she desired. When she asked her mom what she should ask for, Herodias wasted no time in punishing her least favorite scandalmonger, the poor, locusteating, camel-hair-wearing John the Baptist. She instructed Salome to ask for John's head on a platter, and Herod reluctantly complied. Even worse, in the historian St. Bede's version of the story, Herodias stabbed poor John's tongue repeatedly with a dagger.

5. Cochiti Caught Cheatin'

Picture 174.pngThe Cochiti tribe are one of the native Pueblo peoples of New Mexico. Their colorful folklore and mythology includes the tale of a woman who suspected her husband of having an affair with her younger sister. One day, while the husband and younger sister were out on a rabbit hunt together, the wife looked into a bowl of clear water and saw an image of her husband and sister, umm, "hunting rabbits" under a cedar tree. Repeatedly. She began to cry, sat in the middle of a basket, and sang to the spirits to be turned into a snake. When the two lovers returned, she bit them both, killing them. She then appealed to the tribe's medicine men to be taken somewhere to live in peace. They took her to Gaskunkutcinako ("the Girl's Cave"). This is how the Cochiti explain the tearlike marks on a certain species of snake. And perhaps why rabbit hunting isn't a good excuse for coming home late after work.

Ed. note: This list was excerpted from Forbidden Knowledge, available here.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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