Mar 11, 2023 I Nick Redfern

When Did the Women in Black Come Into the World of UFOs? A Long Time Ago

Within the world of UFO research, the Men in Black are about as legendary as they are feared. These pale-faced, ghoulish entities have for decades terrorized into silence both witnesses to, and researchers of, UFO encounters. Theories for who or what the MIB might be are legion. They include: extraterrestrials, government agents, demonic creatures, vampires, time-travelers from the future, and inter-dimensional beings from realms that co-exist with ours. There may very well be more than one explanation for the unsettling phenomenon. While much has been written on the sinister and occasionally deadly actions of the MIB, very little has been penned on the subject of their equally bone-chilling companions: the Women in Black. Make no mistake: the WIB are all too real. And they are as ominous, predatory and dangerous as their male counterparts. In the same way that the Men in Black don’t always wear black, but sometimes wear military uniforms or specifically beige-colored outfits, so do the WIB, who are also quite partial to white costumes. In that sense, “WIB” is, just like “MIB,” a term that is somewhat flexible in terms of actual nature and description. The WIB may not have achieved the iconic status of the MIB – until now - but these fearsome females, and their collective role in silencing those that immerse themselves in the UFO puzzle, as well as in the domains of the occult and the world of the paranormal, are all too terrifyingly real. Not only that: the WIB have a long and twisted history.    

Years before they plagued and tormented flying saucer seekers, the Women in Black roamed the landscape by night and plaguing the good folk of 19th century United States and United Kingdom. They were also up to their infernal tricks in the 1920s. A definitive WIB surfaced in nothing less than a piece of publicity-based footage for a Charlie Chaplin movie, The Circus, which was made in 1928. The footage, undeniably genuine and shown not to have been tampered with, reveals what appears to be an old, short lady, wearing a long black coat and a black hat pulled low over her face, while walking through Los Angeles in west coast heat. If that was not strange enough, she is clearly holding to her ear what appears to be a cell-phone and is talking into it as she walks. Weirder still, the Woman in Black sports an enormous pair of black shoes, which look most out of place, given her short stature. She also seems to be taking careful steps to avoid her face being seen clearly. Might she have been some kind of time-traveling Woman in Black, working hard – but spectacularly failing – to blend in with the people of Los Angeles, all those years ago?

(Nick Redfern) The Women in Black of Ufology have been around since the 1930s. Maybe even earlier.

Fifteen years later, a terrifying WIB haunted the Bender family of Bridgeport, Connecticut. It so happens that a certain Albert Bender, of that very clan, near-singlehandedly began the Men in Black mystery. In the early 1950s, Bender, after establishing the International Flying Saucer Bureau, was visited and threatened with nothing less than death by a trio of pale, skinny, fedora-wearing MIB. They were visits which firmly set the scene for the decades of MIB-themed horror and mayhem that followed. Bender’s visitors were not secret-agents of government, however. He said they materialized in his bedroom – a converted attic in a creepy old house of Psycho proportions - amid an overpowering stench of sulfur. They were shadowy beings with demon-like, glowing eyes. We surely cannot blame the CIA, the FBI, or even the all-powerful NSA, for that! In 1956, UFO sleuth Gray Barker penned a book on Bender’s confrontations with the Men in Black. It was titled They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers and became a classic. Six years later, Bender penned his very own book on his encounters with the MIB: Flying Saucers and the Three Men. It was these two books that brought the MIB into the minds and homes of flying saucer enthusiasts across the world. After which, Bender dropped each and every one of his ties to Ufology. He was careful to avoid speaking about the subject ever again, and, thereon, focused his time on running the appreciation-society of composer Max Steiner.

Back in the 1930s, however, the Bender family had a black-garbed woman in its midst that tormented both young and old in the dead of night. Predating Albert Bender’s own experience with the MIB by years, the hideous silencer in black haunted the Benders near-endlessly. For the Bender family, long before the MIB there was a Woman in Black. In the 1960s, the emotionless, evil-eyed WIB turned up in the small, doom-filled town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. And right around the time that sightings of the legendary flying monster known as Mothman were at their height. Claiming to be “census-takers,” these pale-faced, staring-eyed WIB practically forced their way into the homes of frightened witnesses to Mothman. What began as seemingly normal questions about the number of people in the house, of the average income of the family, and of the number of rooms in the relevant property, soon mutated into something much stranger: persistent and intrusive questions about strange dreams, about unusual telephone interference, and about beliefs regarding the world of all-things of a paranormal nature soon followed.

One of the WIB that put in an appearance at Point Pleasant claimed to have been the secretary of acclaimed author on all-things paranormal, John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies. Just like her male counterparts, she turned up on doorsteps late at night, waiting to be invited in, before grilling mystified and scared souls about their UFO and Mothman encounters. Then vanishing into the night after carefully instilling feelings of distinct fear in the interviewees. Only when dozens of such stories got back to Keel did he realize the sheer, incredible, scale of the dark ruse that was afoot. Keel had to break the unsettling news to each and every one of the frightened souls who contacted him: “I have no secretary.” In the 1970s, wig-wearing and anemic-looking WIB made life hell for more than a few people who were unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Something similar occurred in England, Scotland, and Ireland during the 1980s: a weird wave of encounters with “phantom social-workers” hit the UK. They were out of the blue encounters that eerily paralleled the incidents involving WIB-based “census-takers” that manifested in West Virginia back in the 1960s. 

(Nick Redfern) It might be wise to not open the door.

In 2001, Colin Perks, a British man obsessed with finding the final resting place of King Arthur, received a nighttime visit from a beautiful but emotionless Woman in Black; one with near-milk-white skin. She claimed to represent a secret arm of the British Government that was intent on shutting down research into all realms of the paranormal. When Perks defiantly and defensively said he would not be stopped by veiled threats, the Woman in Black responded with a slight, emotion-free smile and advised him he had just made a big mistake and that he should soon expect another visitor. That other visitor soon turned up, late one dark night. It was a hideous, gargoyle-like beast with fiery, blazing red eyes that loomed large over Perks' bed in the early hours. And not unlike the Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Forever thereafter, Perks was blighted by fear and paranoia, came to believe his Woman in Black and the winged beast were one and the same: namely, a monstrous shape-shifter, a nightmarish thing intent on scaring him from continuing his dedicated research. Both 2012 and 2014 saw incredible and frightening encounters with the Women in Black across the United States. And, as you will now learn, the above-accounts amount to the mere tip of what is a gigantic, much under-appreciated iceberg. When paranormal activity occurs, when UFOs intrude upon the lives of petrified people, and when researchers of all things paranormal get too close to the truth for their own good, the WIB are ready to strike. They dwell within darkness, they surface when the landscape is black and shadowy, and they spread terror and negativity wherever they walk. Or, on occasion, silently glide. They are the Women in Black. Fear them. Keep away from them. And never, ever, let them in the house.

(Nick Redfern) Colin Perks' gargoyle was not too different from Point Pleasant's Mothman.

And, just like the Men in Black are still with us, so aee the Women in Black, as you'll see now. Here's a story involving ufologist Denise Stoner, and in Denise's words: “My Mom and I had gone to the mall on Christmas Eve for a couple of last minute stocking stuffer type gifts.  We actually knew what we wanted so parked outside J.C. Penney’s on the side where those goods were. We went in and immediately noticed that in late afternoon, there were only a few shoppers. We picked out our gifts and got in line at the cashier in back of two other people. We could easily see the exit door and the sun in the parking lot, we were facing that way. The glass doors opened and two very tall, thin women entered. They had long almost waist length blond hair parted in the middle on top and it was thin in texture. Their skin was also pale and I did not notice any make up but each had huge piercing blue eyes. Their gait was odd like they were too tall (approximately 6'1) to walk smoothly. I was already an investigator for MUFON so was aware of oddities in people and had done background searches for the Federal Government, so was trained to be observant."

“They were pushing one of those umbrella style strollers with no fancy attachments - just the hammock type bed, wheels, and handles. I noticed they had no purses or accessories such as a diaper bag to carry diapers or bottles, etc. The women moved slowly it seemed and drew my attention to the stroller. There was a baby blanket in the bottom portion and on top the head of a baby no bigger than a small grapefruit, pasty colored skin, no noticeable nose, a line for a mouth and huge dark eyes taking up most of the rest of this head. I wondered if the baby was deformed but knew this was not the case somehow. The baby appeared alert and was staring up at me. My Mom bumped me with her arm to get my attention and said ‘what is wrong with that baby?’ I felt I needed to tell the person in front of me because we had been talking with her about being slow in finishing up our shopping. When I tapped her on the shoulder I then was shocked to see not only her but the lady in front of her and the cashier were kind of frozen in place. Everything seemed to be moving in extremely slow motion around us.” Indeed, the Women in Black are still with us. There are, however, many more stories.

A famous Contactee of the 1950s – Truman Bethurum – became utterly entranced and enchanted by one of these deceptive W.I.B. A high-ranking figure in the British military had an intimidating, face-to-face meeting with a pale-skinned Woman in Black in the mid-fifties. One of this deadly breed may have tried to infiltrate the heart of the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. They surfaced from their darkened lairs when, in 1987, Whitley Strieber’s best-selling book, Communion, was published. So, who, exactly, are the Women in Black? Just like their close compatriots, the Men in Black, it’s abundantly clear they’re not the employees of any agency of government, the military, or the intelligence community. Such is very much the imagery played out in the likes of the Men in Black movie franchise. The fact is, however, that the WIB are, simply put, just too strange to be anything as down-to-earth as “secret agents.” From the Pentagon, they’re not. That we see, time and again, the Women in Black tied to cases with paranormal, and even demonic, overtones, is a good indicator that whatever their points of origin, the NSA and the CIA are certainly not among them, either. 

This provokes an important question: if the WIB do have supernatural origins, then what does that say about the overall UFO phenomenon they are so tied to? Should we consider it, too, to be of paranormal – rather than extraterrestrial – origins? Yes, almost certainly: acclaimed researcher-writers such as Jacques Vallee and the late John Keel noted the undeniable parallels between Ufology and numerous other supernatural activity. Unfortunately, they were very much lone wolves; the majority of Ufology preferring to stay snug and safe in their world of “nuts and bolts” Ufology.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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