The morbid fascination with the Black Dahlia.

What really happened.
Sept. 14 2006 4:28 PM

Death Becomes Her

Examining the morbid fascination with the Black Dahlia.

(Continued from Page 1)

"Sex semaphore is all misogynist subtext," Ellroy writes toward the end of My Dark Places. "All men hate women for tried-and-true reasons they share in jokes and banter every day. Now you know." This is an exaggeration, but Ellroy does come closer to explaining the pervasive and perverse fascination with dead white women—their evocation of men's twisted desire to love, protect, fuck, and kill the women in their lives—than most. Sixty years after Elizabeth Short's mutilated, tortured corpse was discarded by the side of the road, this might be her ultimate legacy.

Seth Mnookin is the associate director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing. His most recent book is The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. Follow him on Twitter.

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