THE TALE

Once upon a time, “Little Red Riding Hood” was a seduction tale. An engraving accompanying the first published version of the story, in Paris in 1697, shows a girl in her déshabille, lying in bed beneath a wolf. According to the plot, she has just stripped out of her clothes, and a moment later the tale will end with her death in the beast’s jaws — no salvation, no redemption. Any reader of the day would have immediately understood the message: In the French slang, when a girl lost her virginity it was said that elle avoit vû le loup — she’d seen the wolf.

The version most widely known today is based on the Brothers Grimm variant. It is about a girl called Little Red Riding Hood, after the red hooded cape or cloak she wears. The girl walks through the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother.

A wolf wants to eat the girl but is afraid to do so in public. He approaches the girl, and she naïvely tells him where she is going. He suggests the girl pick some flowers, which she does. In the meantime, he goes to the grandmother's house and gains entry by pretending to be the girl. He swallows the grandmother whole, and waits for the girl, disguised as the grandmother.

When the girl arrives, she notices he looks very strange to be her grandma. In most retellings, this eventually culminates with Little Red Riding Hood saying, "My, what big teeth you have!"

To which the wolf replies, "The better to eat you with," and swallows her whole, too.

A hunter, however, comes to the rescue and cuts the wolf open. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother emerge unharmed. They fill the wolf's body with heavy stones, which drown him when he falls into a well. Other versions of the story have had the grandmother shut in the closet instead of eaten, and some have Little Red Riding Hood saved by the hunter as the wolf advances on her rather than after she is eaten.

The tale makes the clearest contrast between the safe world of the village and the dangers of the forest, conventional antitheses that are essentially medieval, though no written versions are as old as that.

 Relationship to other tales

The theme of the ravening wolf and of the creature released unharmed from its belly is reflected in the Russian tale Peter and the Wolf, and the other Grimm tale The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, but its general theme of restoration is at least as old as Jonah and the whale. The Theme also appears in the story of the life of Saint Margaret, where the saint emerges unharmed from the belly of a dragon.

The dialog between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood has its analogies to the Norse Þrymskviða from the Elder Edda; the giant Þrymr had stolen Mjölner, Thor's hammer, and demanded Freyja as his bride for its return. Instead, the gods dressed Thor as a bride and sent him. When the giants note Thor's unladylike eyes, eating, and drinking, Loki explains them as Freyja not having slept, or eaten, or drunk, out of longing for the wedding.

Pre-Perrault

The origins of the Little Red Riding Hood story can be traced to oral versions from various European countries and more than likely preceding the 17th century, of which several exist, some significantly different from the currently-known, Grimms-inspired version. It was told by French peasants in the 14th century as well as in Italy, where a number of versions exist, including La finta nonna (The False Grandmother). It is also possible that this early tale has roots in very similar Oriental tales (e.g. "Grandaunt Tiger").

These early variations of the tale differ from the currently known version in several ways. The antagonist is not always a wolf, but sometimes an ogre or a ‘bzou’ (werewolf), making these tales relevant to the werewolf-trials (similar to witch trials) of the time (e.g. the trial of Peter Stumpp). The wolf usually leaves the grandmother’s blood and meat for the girl to eat, who then unwittingly cannibalises her own grandmother. Furthermore, the wolf was also known to ask her to remove her clothing and toss it into the fire. In some versions, the wolf eats the girl after she gets into bed with him, and the story ends there. In others, she sees through his disguise and tries to escape, complaining to her "grandmother" that she needs to defecate and would not wish to do so in the bed. The wolf reluctantly lets her go, tied to a piece of string so she does not get away. However, the girl slips the string over something else and runs off.

In these stories she escapes with no help from any male or older female figure, instead using her own cunning. Sometimes, the red hood is even non-existent.

 Charles Perrault

The earliest known printed version was known as Le Petit Chaperon Rouge and had its origins in 17th century French folklore. It was included in the collection Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals. Tales of Mother Goose (Histoires et contes du temps passé, avec des moralités. Contes de ma mère l'Oye), in 1697, by Charles Perrault.

As the title implies, this version is both more sinister and more overtly moralized than the later ones. The redness of the hood, which has been given symbolic significance in many interpretations of the tale, was a detail introduced by Perrault.

The story had as its subject an "attractive, well-bred young lady", a village girl of the country being deceived into giving a wolf she encountered the information he needed to find her grandmother's house successfully and eat the old woman while at the same time avoiding being noticed by woodcutters working in the nearby forest. Then he proceeded to lay a trap for the Red Riding Hood. The latter ends up eaten by the wolf and there the story ends. The wolf emerges the victor of the encounter and there is no happy ending.

Charles Perrault explained the 'moral' at the end so that no doubt is left to his intended meaning:

From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition — neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!

In this version the tale has been adapted for late 17th century French salon culture, an entirely different audience from what it had before, and has become a harsh morality tale warning women of the advances of men.

 The Brothers Grimm
 
In the 19th century two separate German versions were retold to Jakob Grimm and his younger brother Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, the first by Jeanette Hassenpflug (1791–1860) and the second by Marie Hassenpflug (1788–1856). The brothers turned the first version to the main body of the story and the second into a sequel of it. The story as Rotkäppchen was included in the first edition of their collection Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales [1812])


The earlier parts of the tale agree so closely with Perrault's variant that it is almost certainly the source of the tale. However, they modified the ending; this version had the little girl and her grandmother saved by a huntsman who was after the wolf's skin; this ending is identical to that in the tale The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, which appears to be the source.

The second part featured the girl and her grandmother trapping and killing another wolf, this time anticipating his moves based on their experience with the previous one. The girl did not leave the path when the wolf spoke to her, her grandmother locked the door to keep it out, and when the wolf lurked, the grandmother had Little Red Riding Hood put a trough under the chimney and fill it with water that sausages had been cooked in; the smell lured the wolf down, and it drowned.

The Brothers further revised the story in later editions and it reached the above mentioned final and better known version in the 1857 edition of their work. It is notably tamer than the older stories which contained darker themes.

The Grimms did not faithfully preserve the lore of common folk, as they claimed in the preface to their first edition of Children’s and Household Tales. Rather, they adapted the tale for a new children’s audience, excising all erotic content along with Perrault’s incriminating moral. Their revision suggested spiritual rather than sexual danger, and stressed the most important lesson of the day: obedience.

Today the prudish Grimms’ version of the fairy tale remains rife with suggestive details left over from Red Riding Hood’s racier French past, yet modern readers remain remarkably and sometimes comically oblivious.

In 1990, the storybook was banned in two California school districts because of an illustration showing Red’s basket with a bottle of wine as well as fresh bread and butter. The story line of Red disrobing and climbing in bed with the wolf passed muster, but the wine, they said, might be seen as condoning the use of alcohol.

After the Grimms

Numerous authors have rewritten or adapted this tale.

Andrew Lang included a variant as "The True History of Little Goldenhood" in The Red Fairy Book; he derived it from the works of Charles Marelles. This variant explicitly said that the story had been mistold. The girl was saved, but not by the huntsman; when the wolf tried to eat her, its mouth was burned by the golden hood she wore, which was enchanted.

James N. Barker wrote a variation of Little Red Riding Hood in 1827 as an approximately 1000-word story. It was later reprinted in 1858 in a book of collected stories edited by William E Burton, called the Cyclopedia of Wit and Humor. The reprint also features a wood engraving of a clothed wolf on bended knee holding Little Red Riding Hood's hand.
 


In the twentieth century, the popularity of the tale appeared to snowball, with many new versions being written and produced, especially in the wake of Freudian analysis, deconstruction and feminist critical theory.  This trend has also led to a number of academic texts being written that focus on Little Red Riding Hood.

Advertisements transformed the heroine, once a symbolic warning against the female libido, into an ode to Lust. Ripe young “Riding Hood Red” lipstick would “bring the wolves out,” Max Factor promised, in a poster-sized ad appearing in Vogue in 1953.




Interpretations
 
Besides the overt warning about talking to strangers, there are many interpretations of the classic fairy tale, many of them sexual. Some are listed below:

Wolf attacks
Ethologist Dr. Valerius Geist of the University of Calgary, Alberta wrote that the fable was likely based on genuine risk of wolf attacks at the time. He argues that wolves were in fact dangerous predators, and fables served as a valid warning not to enter forests where wolves were known to live, and to be on the look out for such. Both wolves and wilderness were treated as enemies of humanity in that region and time.

Natural cycles
Folklorists and cultural anthropologists such as P. Saintyves and Edward Burnett Tylor saw Little Red Riding Hood in terms of solar myths and other naturally-occurring cycles. Her red hood could represent the bright sun which is ultimately swallowed by the terrible night (the wolf), and the variations in which she is cut out of the wolf's belly represent by it the dawn. In this interpretation, there is a connection between the wolf of this tale and Skoll, the wolf in Norse myth that will swallow the sun at Ragnarök, or Fenris. Alternatively, the tale could be about the season of spring, or the month of May, escaping the winter. This may be as detailed as describing it as the May Queen ritual that represents the coming of Spring, with the crown of flowers replaced by the red hood.

Ritual
The tale has been interpreted as a puberty ritual, stemming from a prehistorical origin (sometimes an origin stemming from a previous matriarchal era.) The girl, leaving home, enters a liminal state and by going through the acts of the tale, is transformed into an adult woman by the act of coming out of the wolf's belly.

Rebirth
Bruno Bettelheim, in The Uses of Enchantment, recast the Little Red Riding Hood motif in terms of classic Freudian analysis, that shows how fairy tales educate, support, and liberate the emotions of children. The motif of the huntsman cutting open the wolf, he interpreted as a "rebirth"; the girl who foolishly listened to the wolf has been reborn as a new person.

Prostitution
One of the more common interpretations refers to a classic warning against becoming a "working girl." The red cloak was also a classic signal of a prostitute in 17th century France. A Colombian charity recently used this theme in a poster campaign that showed various fairy tale characters reduced to child labour, including Red Riding Hood as a child prostitute.

Sexual awakening
Red Riding Hood has also been seen as a parable of sexual maturity. In this interpretation, the red cloak symbolizes the blood of the menstrual cycle, braving the "dark forest" of womanhood. Or the cloak could symbolize the hymen (earlier versions of the tale generally do not state that the cloak is red—the word "red" in the title may refer to the girl's hair color or a nickname). In this case, the wolf threatens the girl's virginity. The anthropomorphic wolf symbolizes a man, who could be a lover, seducer or sexual predator. This differs from the ritual explanation in that the entry into adulthood is biologically, not socially, determined.

Norse myth
The story Þrymskviða from the Poetic Edda mirrors some elements of Red Riding Hood. Loki's explanations for "Freya's" (actually Thor's) strange behavior mirror the wolf's explanations for his strange appearance.

The red hood has often been given great importance in many interpretations, with a significance from the dawn to blood. However, the oral version prior to Perrault did not include such a red hood; Perrault introduced it.

Modern uses and adaptations
 
There have been many modern uses and adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood, generally with a mock-serious reversal of Red Riding Hood's naïveté or some twist of social satire; they range across a number of different media and styles. Multiple variations have been written in the past century, in which authors adapt the Grimms' tale to their own interests.

The tale can be told in terms of Little Red Riding Hood's sexual attractiveness. The song "How Could Red Riding Hood (Have Been So Very Good)?" by A.P. Randolph in 1925 was the first song known to be banned from radio due to its sexual suggestiveness. The 1966 hit song "Lil' Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs takes the Wolf's point of view, implying that he wants love rather than blood. In the short animated cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood by Tex Avery, the story is recast in an adult-oriented urban setting, with the suave, sharp-dressed Wolf howling after the nightclub singer Red. Avery used the same cast and themes in a subsequent series of cartoons. Allusions to the tale can be more or less overtly sexual, as when the color of a lipstick is advertised as "Riding Hood Red".

This sexual analysis may take the form of rape. In Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller described the fairy tale as a description of rape. Many revisionist retellings depict Little Red Riding Hood or the grandmother successfully defending herself against the wolf.

The story may also serve as a metaphor for a sexual awakening, as in Angela Carter's story "The Company of Wolves", published in her collection The Bloody Chamber (1979). (Carter's story was adapted into a film by Neil Jordan in 1984.) In the story, the wolf is in fact a werewolf, and comes to newly-menstruating Red Riding Hood in the forest in the form of a charming hunter. He turns into a wolf and eats her grandmother, and is about to devour her as well, when she is equally seductive and ends up lying with the wolf man, her sexual awakening.

Such tellings bear some similarity to the "animal bridegroom" tales, such as Beauty and the Beast or The Frog Prince, but where the heroines of those tales transform the hero into a prince, these tellings of Little Red Riding Hood reveal to the heroine that she has a wild nature like the hero's.



Little Red Riding Hood

Charles Perrault

Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood.

One day her mother, having made some cakes, said to her, "Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother is doing, for I hear she has been very ill. Take her a cake, and this little pot of butter."

Little Red Riding Hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village.

As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest. He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf, said to him, "I am going to see my grandmother and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother."



Wolf

The wolf has become a popular image in fairy tales thanks to this tale and The Tale of the Three Little Pigs. The wolf is a common predator in the forest and thus is a natural choice for the story unlike the witch, ogre or troll found in other tales. The wolf is often a metaphor for a sexually predatory man. 

In this illustration by Gustave Dore, look at their intimate proximity. The wolf is almost rubbing her, and Red Riding Hood, with her big eyes, is innocently explaining her purpose.












"Does she live far off?" said the wolf

"Oh I say," answered Little Red Riding Hood; "it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village."

"Well," said the wolf, "and I'll go and see her too. I'll go this way and go you that, and we shall see who will be there first."

The wolf ran as fast as he could, taking the shortest path, and the little girl took a roundabout way, entertaining herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and gathering bouquets of little flowers. It was not long before the wolf arrived at the old woman's house. He knocked at the door: tap, tap.

"Who's there?"

"Your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood," replied the wolf, counterfeiting her voice; "who has brought you a cake and a little pot of butter sent you by mother."

The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up."

The wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened, and then he immediately fell upon the good woman and ate her up in a moment, for it been more than three days since he had eaten. He then shut the door and got into the grandmother's bed, expecting Little Red Riding Hood, who came some time afterwards and knocked at the door: tap, tap.

"Who's there?"

Little Red Riding Hood, hearing the big voice of the wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grandmother had a cold and was hoarse, answered, "It is your grandchild Little Red Riding Hood, who has brought you a cake and a little pot of butter mother sends you."

The wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up."

Little Red Riding Hood pulled the bobbin, and the door opened.

The wolf, seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes, "Put the cake and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come get into bed with me."



Come get into bed with me

Most of the later versions of the tale omit this element of the story due to its sexual connotations.
However, one of the most famous illustrations of the tale by Gustave Dore shows
Little Red Riding Hood in bed with the wolf.






Modern Version

 


Little Red Riding Hood took off her clothes and got into bed. She was greatly amazed to see how her grandmother looked in her nightclothes, and said to her, "Grandmother, what big arms you have!"

"All the better to hug you with, my dear."

"Grandmother, what big legs you have!"

"All the better to run with, my child."

"Grandmother, what big ears you have!"

"All the better to hear with, my child."

"Grandmother, what big eyes you have!"

"All the better to see with, my child."

"Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!"

"All the better to eat you up with."

And, saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up.

Moral: Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.



Little Red Cap

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her, but most of all her grandmother, who did not know what to give the child next. Once she gave her a little cap made of red velvet. Because it suited her so well, and she wanted to wear it all the time, she came to be known as Little Red Cap.

One day her mother said to her, "Come Little Red Cap. Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother. She is sick and weak, and they will do her well. Mind your manners and give her my greetings. Behave yourself on the way, and do not leave the path, or you might fall down and break the glass, and then there will be nothing for your sick grandmother."

Little Red Cap promised to obey her mother. The grandmother lived out in the woods, a half hour from the village. When Little Red Cap entered the woods a wolf came up to her. She did not know what a wicked animal he was, and was not afraid of him.

"Good day to you, Little Red Cap."

"Thank you, wolf."

"Where are you going so early, Little Red Cap?"

"To grandmother's."

"And what are you carrying under your apron?"

"Grandmother is sick and weak, and I am taking her some cake and wine. We baked yesterday, and they should give her strength."

"Little Red Cap, just where does your grandmother live?"

"Her house is a good quarter hour from here in the woods, under the three large oak trees. There's a hedge of hazel bushes there. You must know the place," said Little Red Cap.

The wolf thought to himself, "Now there is a tasty bite for me. Just how are you going to catch her?" Then he said, "Listen, Little Red Cap, haven't you seen the beautiful flowers that are blossoming in the woods? Why don't you go and take a look? And I don't believe you can hear how beautifully the birds are singing. You are walking along as though you were on your way to school in the village. It is very beautiful in the woods."

Little Red Cap opened her eyes and saw the sunlight breaking through the trees and how the ground was covered with beautiful flowers. She thought, "If a take a bouquet to grandmother, she will be very pleased. Anyway, it is still early, and I'll be home on time." And she ran off into the woods looking for flowers. Each time she picked one she thought that she could see an even more beautiful one a little way off, and she ran after it, going further and further into the woods. But the wolf ran straight to the grandmother's house and knocked on the door.

"Who's there?"

"Little Red Cap. I'm bringing you some cake and wine. Open the door for me."

"Just press the latch," called out the grandmother. "I'm too weak to get up."

The wolf pressed the latch, and the door opened. He stepped inside, went straight to the grandmother's bed, and ate her up. Then he took her clothes, put them on, and put her cap on his head. He got into her bed and pulled the curtains shut.

Little Red Cap had run after flowers, and did not continue on her way to grandmother's until she had gathered all that she could carry. When she arrived, she found, to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlor, and everything looked so strange that she thought, "Oh, my God, why am I so afraid? I usually like it at grandmother's." Then she went to the bed and pulled back the curtains. Grandmother was lying there with her cap pulled down over her face and looking very strange.

"Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!"

"All the better to hear you with."

"Oh, grandmother, what big eyes you have!"

"All the better to see you with."

"Oh, grandmother, what big hands you have!"

"All the better to grab you with!"

"Oh, grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!"

"All the better to eat you with!" And with that he jumped out of bed, jumped on top of poor Little Red Cap, and ate her up. As soon as the wolf had finished this tasty bite, he climbed back into bed, fell asleep, and began to snore very loudly.

A huntsman was just passing by. He thought it strange that the old woman was snoring so loudly, so he decided to take a look. He stepped inside, and in the bed there lay the wolf that he had been hunting for such a long time. "He has eaten the grandmother, but perhaps she still can be saved. I won't shoot him," thought the huntsman. So he took a pair of scissors and cut open his belly.

He had cut only a few strokes when he saw the red cap shining through. He cut a little more, and the girl jumped out and cried, "Oh, I was so frightened! It was so dark inside the wolf's body!"

And then the grandmother came out alive as well. Then Little Red Cap fetched some large heavy stones. They filled the wolf's body with them, and when he woke up and tried to run away, the stones were so heavy that he fell down dead.

The three of them were happy. The huntsman took the wolf's pelt. The grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine that Little Red Cap had brought. And Little Red Cap thought to herself, "As long as I live, I will never leave the path and run off into the woods by myself if mother tells me not to."



They also tell how Little Red Cap was taking some baked things to her grandmother another time, when another wolf spoke to her and wanted her to leave the path. But Little Red Cap took care and went straight to grandmother's. She told her that she had seen the wolf, and that he had wished her a good day, but had stared at her in a wicked manner. "If we hadn't been on a public road, he would have eaten me up," she said.

"Come," said the grandmother. "Let's lock the door, so he can't get in."

Soon afterward the wolf knocked on the door and called out, "Open up, grandmother. It's Little Red Cap, and I'm bringing you some baked things."

They remained silent, and did not open the door. The wicked one walked around the house several times, and finally jumped onto the roof. He wanted to wait until Little Red Cap went home that evening, then follow her and eat her up in the darkness. But the grandmother saw what he was up to. There was a large stone trough in front of the house.

"Fetch a bucket, Little Red Cap," she said. "Yesterday I cooked some sausage. Carry the water that I boiled them with to the trough." Little Red Cap carried water until the large, large trough was clear full. The smell of sausage arose into the wolf's nose. He sniffed and looked down, stretching his neck so long that he could no longer hold himself, and he began to slide. He slid off the roof, fell into the trough, and drowned. And Little Red Cap returned home happily and safely.








Little Red Riding Hood (The Politically Correct Version)

There once was a young person named Little Red Riding Hood who lived on the edge of a large forest full of endangered owls and rare plants that would probably provide a cure for cancer if only someone took the time to study them.

Red Riding Hood lived with a nurture giver whom she sometimes referred to as “Mother,” although she didn't mean to imply by this term that she would have thought less of that person if a close biological link did not in fact exist. Nor did she intend to denigrate the equal value of nontraditional households, and she was sorry if this was the impression conveyed.

One day her mother asked her to take a basket of organically grown fruit and mineral water to her grandmother's house.

“But mother, won't this be stealing work from the unionized people who have struggled for years to earn the right to carry all packages between various people in the woods?”

Red Riding Hood's mother assured her that she had called the union boss and gotten a special compassionate mission exemption form.

“But mother, aren't you oppressing me by ordering me to do this?”

Red Riding Hood's mother pointed out that it was impossible for women to oppress each other, since all women were equally oppressed until all women were free.

“But mother, then shouldn't you have my brother carry the basket, since he's an oppressor, and should learn what it's like to be oppressed?”

Red Riding Hood's mother explained that her brother was attending a special rally for animal rights, and besides, this wasn't stereotypical women's work, but an empowering deed that would help engender a feeling of community.

“But won't I be oppressing Grandma, by implying that she's sick and hence unable to independently further her own selfhood?”

But Red Riding Hood's mother explained that her grandmother wasn't actually sick or incapacitated or mentally handicapped in any way, although that was not to imply that any of these conditions were inferior to what some people called “health.” Thus Red Riding Hood felt that she could get behind the idea of delivering the basket to her grandmother, and so she set off.

Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place, but Red Riding Hood knew that this was an irrational fear based on cultural paradigms instilled by a patriarchal society that regarded the natural world as an exploitable resource, and hence believed that natural predators were in fact intolerable competitors.

Other people avoided the woods for fear of thieves and deviants, but Red Riding Hood felt that in a truly classless society all marginalized peoples would be able to “come out” of the woods and be accepted as valid lifestyle role models.

On her way to Grandma's house, Red Riding Hood passed a woodchopper, and wandered off the path, in order to examine some flowers. She was startled to find herself standing before a Wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. Red Riding Hood's teacher had warned her never to talk to strangers, but she was confident in taking control of her own budding sexuality, and chose to dialogue with the Wolf.

She replied, “I am taking my Grandmother some healthful snacks in a gesture of solidarity.”

The Wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone.”

Red Riding Hood said, “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop an alternative and yet entirely valid world view. Now, if you'll excuse me, I would prefer to be on my way.”

Red Riding Hood returned to the main path, and proceeded towards her Grandmother's house. But because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the Wolf knew of a quicker route to Grandma's house.

He burst into the house and ate Grandma, a course of action affirmative of his nature as a predator. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist gender role notions, he put on Grandma's nightclothes, crawled under the bedclothes, and awaited developments.

Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and said, “Grandma, I have brought you some cruelty-free snacks to salute you in your role of wise and nurturing matriarch.”

The Wolf said softly, “Come closer, child, so that I might see you.”

Red Riding Hood said, “Goddess! Grandma, what big eyes you have!”

“You forget that I am optically challenged.”

“And Grandma, what an enormous, what a fine nose you have.”

“Naturally, I could have had it fixed to help my acting career, but I didn't give in to such societal pressures, my child.”

“And Grandma, what very big, sharp teeth you have!”

The Wolf could not take any more of these speciesist slurs, and, in a reaction appropriate for his accustomed milieu, he leaped out of bed, grabbed Little Red Riding Hood, and opened his jaws so wide that she could see her poor Grandmother cowering in his belly.

“Aren't you forgetting something?” Red Riding Hood bravely shouted. “You must request my permission before proceeding to a new level of intimacy!”

The Wolf was so startled by this statement that he loosened his grasp on her. At the same time, the woodchopper burst into the cottage, brandishing an axe.

“Hands off!” cried the woodchopper.

“And what do you think you're doing?” cried Little Red Riding Hood. “If I let you help me now, I would be expressing a lack of confidence in my own abilities, which would lead to poor self-esteem and lower achievement scores on college entrance exams.”

“Last chance, sister! Get your hands off that endangered species! This is an FBI sting!” screamed the woodchopper, and when Little Red Riding Hood nonetheless made a sudden motion, he swung the axe and sliced off her head.

“Thank goodness you got here in time,” said the Wolf. “The brat and her grandmother lured me in here. I thought I was a goner.”

“No, I think I'm the real victim, here,” said the woodchopper. “I've been dealing with my anger ever since I saw her picking those protected flowers earlier. And now I'm going to have such a trauma. Do you have any aspirin?”

“Sure,” said the Wolf.

“Thanks.”

“I feel your pain,” said the Wolf, and he patted the woodchopper on his firm, well padded back, gave a little belch, and said “Do you have any Maalox?”