Sometimes, though, the hood isn't red.
Sometimes the child isn't a girl.
Sometimes there is no soft susurration of leaves, no babbling brook, no whisper of grass underfoot.
Sometimes the path winds between tidy houses and familiar storefronts bright with neon.
Sometimes the food isn't for grandma, it's for your little brother.
Sometimes the dull rumble of danger that has you glancing behind you is from an engine, not a throat.
Sometimes it doesn't matter whether you step off the path.
Sometimes the wolf thinks that he's a woodcutter, and that children are wolves.
Sometimes the wolf carries a gun.
Sometimes the woodcutters are wolves too, under the skin.
I absolutely do not mean to make light of Treyvon Martin's death, and nor do I mean to imply that sexism is the same as racism; Little Red Riding Hood IS specifically about the ways that young girls [and old women] are vulnerable to predators in our society. But when I hear safe old rich white men blustering about how this boy shouldn't have been wearing a hood, how it's his fault, how he was, somehow, asking to be attacked - well, it sounds a lot like the victim-blaming one constantly hears when women are attacked. It sounds a lot like this story of the girl in the woods, which is not, in truth, sweet or harmless. It's a warning.
It's hard not to think that (however much Disney would like to sugarcoat them and neuter them and use them to sell us things) fairytales are often warnings, scribbled in blood and passed down through the centuries. Yes, terrible things can happen to anyone, but they can especially happen (and be permitted to happen) if you are foolish enough to be black, or female, or gay, or transgendered, or disabled.
We don't have fairytales specifically aimed at reflecting how dangerous it is to be a person of colour growing up in a world of white privilege, or to be LGBTQ in a world of cis- and het-privilege (etc) but we evidently need them*; there are wolves in the woods, and wolves on the streets, and wolves in the schoolyard, and wolves in office, and wolves reading the news. There are wolves in uniform, and wolves in jeans. Some of them even wear hoods (although they're more likely to be white than red).
We need to change the world. We need to make the streets and schoolyards and offices places where wolves cannot flourish. We need to blame the monsters, not the victims.
(*perhaps we do have them, though? TV shows, movies, books - these are our new fairytales, aren't they? These are the narratives we give our children today. We need to give them truths in these stories, not pretty lies. We need to warn them what's out there.)
Created: Mar 26, 2012Flockofwords Document Media