Perhaps the story of Little Red Riding Hood isn’t about the wolf, but about the woods.
Perhaps it is about taming the woods, making them less dangerous.
Perhaps it is teaching us that forests must be tamed, must be mastered.
That if they cannot be civilized, they must be destroyed.
Is this why large stands of trees are seen as “undeveloped”?
Is this why they are seen as a resource to be exploited, rather than one that serves perfectly as it is?
And why does something have to serve to be considered valuable? How human-centric is that – that if it does not serve us, it can be destroyed?
How much “development” do we need if we no longer have trees to create oxygen for us?
Should there be a limit on how many people per acre there can be in a given community? Should there be a mandatory people to tree ratio to ensure enough oxygen?
And what about the animals living in the forest – untamed, wild? Do they not deserve a place to live? Why is it considered progress to evict them by chopping down their home in order to build new ones for people?
Is this the new colonialism? Is this not what white settlers did to the native people who were already here?
This is not a simple fairy tale. This is a story designed to control young girls. The moral – stay on the path, or else you will get hurt. This is victim blaming at the core. It teaches that it is Little Red Riding Hood’s fault that she and her grandmother got eaten by the wolf.
The wolf is every single male she ever encounters in her life. The “being eaten” is everything from getting a lesser job to getting raped or killed. This story teaches girls – and only girls – that if we don’t stay in our defined roles then we deserve everything bad that happens to us.
Notice she isn’t even named. Her “name” is what she wears – exterior only. She isn’t even real, just a placeholder. She isn’t a person, but a thing. People look at her outside only.
Notice that it is a strong male who saves her – the hunter comes by and hears the grandmother snoring and decides to investigate. Why is snoring loudly seen as a sign that something is wrong? Do women not snore? Are we expected to maintain control over ourselves at all times – even while unconscious?
Notice that the townspeople don’t send the hunters into the forest to clear it of dangerous animals. They don’t make it safe for her or others.
Art made on a Strathmore art journal – mixed media paper, using various pens and painted using Distress Ink. Words are photocopied from a book about Little Red Riding Hood and then dyed/stamped/inked.