So I’ve been thinking about Little Red Riding Hood… the Stranger Danger poster child. Literally. When I was a kid the DARE officer who spoke to my primary school had his own (incredibly sexist) version of the old folk tale to illustrate why talking to strangers was a bad idea. Into the Woods has her sing a quasi break-up song lamenting her mistake. Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs have their sleazy, but admittedly catchy song about how gorgeous Red needs a good wolf to protect her from the bad wolves. The poor kid can’t catch a break between getting eaten and having the audience of the tale shaking their heads collectively and tsking her.
You know the funny thing? The original tale, pre Jacob and Wilhelm had a totally different ending. Let me retell it.
Some time later, Little Red Cap’s mother sent her again to her grandmother’s house. On her way, another wolf crossed the path and said, “Where are you going today, Little Red Cap?” But she knew not to speak to him and ran ahead to grandmother’s house by the quickest route. When she told her grandmother about the wolf, the old woman said, “I cooked sausages yesterday, and the water is still in the pot. Hurry– before the wolf gets here, fetch me some fuel for the fire.”
Little Red Cap did as her grandmother said, and soon there was a roaring fire underneath the pot. The wolf was very angry to have been too slow to catch the girl, but the smell of sausage drew him up to the roof, and he stuck his head down the chimney to better enjoy it. He slipped, and fell headfirst into the pot, where Little Red Cap and her grandmother slammed the lid down on top of him and held it fast until he was dead.”
Having learned from past mistakes and time to plan, Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother show that they aren’t as helpless as the edited tale would have one think. And that’s not even the wolf’s most grisly death! The two women are veritable wolf-slayers! I wonder how the wolves edit the tale to manipulate their pups into being scared of everyone they meet. I’d like to read that version… it’s probably something like the Garrison Keillor skit about turkeys eating humans on Thanksgiving. Or The Last House on the Left… I guess it depends on whether they were middle-class wolves.
I digress. That, dear readers, is the true story of Little Red Riding Hood. Can you handle the truth?