Red’s mother warns her not to talk to strangers, but the girl thinks her mom is out of touch/ doesn’t trust her/ doesn’t know what a strong, independent, young woman she is. So when Red meets a “wolf” in the woods, she flirts instead of runs. In her naivety, she is seduced into the man’s bed. Spoiler alert: Red doesn’t make it out.
Little Red Riding Hood is a cautionary tale. One of the many that we have sugar-coated so that our children won’t live in fear. People of all ages are in danger of being eaten by the wolves, but young girls are especially targeted. Sugar-coating does no one any favors.
In light of the recent uproar in Washington, I’ve had another little talk with my daughter. First, we talked about personal responsibility, and then we talked about boys. We’ve had talks about boys being wolves before, but I don’t think she believes me. I can’t blame her; I didn’t believe my parents, and my mother didn’t believe hers…
I actually made a list of things boys might say to girls, and if they don’t make my daughter’s eyes roll, they make her run from the room. Here it is:
To “get the milk for free” a Wolf will:
Appeal to her Vanity
I’ve never known a girl like you.
You’re the most beautiful woman in the world to me.
You’re so cute/ You’re the cutest thing!
I love your body/your face/ your pick a feature.
I respect/like/love you more than my last girlfriend.
Nobody knows or understands me the way you do.
Appeal to her sense of Individuality/ Independence
Don’t follow the herd.
Do you always do what your parents tell you?
You’re not like the other girls.
Think for yourself.
That’s just something society/church/your parents want you to believe so they can control you.
Don’t let other people tell you how to live your life.
Appeal to her need for Love & Commitment
I can’t think of anyone or anything but you.
You’re the only girl for me.
I’ve never told anyone this before…
I’ve never felt this way before.
I’d do anything for you.
I want to be able to look at you/ touch you forever.
It’s ok because we’re in love and will get married someday.
Appeal to her aversion of Loss
I have needs, but if you don’t feel comfortable that’s ok, I can be patient. I’ll just get it from someone else until you’re ready.
My last girlfriend didn’t let me either… that’s why I broke up with her.
My last girlfriend always let me… maybe I should go back to her.
Do you want to die a virgin?
I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening; I was thinking about what Bill and Jane are probably doing right now.
The Wolf might use alcohol and/or drugs.
A girl who drinks excessively at a party, is making “conquest” way too easy for boys. A lot of these boys don’t even realize that they are doing anything wrong! They see a drunk girl as “good luck”; not as “incapacitated”. Boys aren’t thinking in terms of right or wrong; they’re thinking in terms of instant gratification. These guys aren’t concerned with “consent”; they think girls are intelligent enough to know when they’ve had too much to drink. Above all else, guys go to parties to drink and get laid, and they think that is exactly why girls go to parties too. And that’s not even talking about boys who willfully incapacitate girls in order to take advantage of them.
Looking toward the Future
On a positive note, in Texas, first time college students are required to complete a small course (an online module based on Title IX) that educates them on sexual harassment and the dangers of alcohol. It is geared toward both men and women who may have misconceptions about their personal responsibilities in various situations. It is an effort to decrease sexual assault in the area of highest risk: drinking parties.
Long story short, we need to talk to our boys and girls about this sensitive issue. We can’t just tell our kids, “Don’t be naïve, don’t be a wolf, and always listen to your mother.” Unfortunately, my little girls are going to meet a wolf along the way through the woods; hopefully, they will fare better than Little Red Riding Hood.
What do you tell your daughters and sons about sexual responsibility?