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It Was Red’s Fault

In the spirit of Halloween, I had a classic October day with a couple of my friends. We carved pumpkins, ate dinner, and watched a couple movies. One of the movies we watched, Red Riding Hood, got me thinking about a couple of things, especially since the fairy tale has been appearing frequently in my life lately:

     • A couple weeks ago, I got a phone call from my dad expressing his excitement that he and his girlfriend were going as Red and the wolf for Halloween. Apparently their costumes are pretty awesome.
     • Last Wednesday, my Lit Theory professor asked our class to find a version of the tale on the web and    bring it into class. We spent the day discussing all kinds of taboo implications there are throughout the text: apparently the tale covers fornication, cannibalism, and public defecation.
     • Then tonight: Amanda Seyfried and Shiloh Fernandez portrayed the infamous pair.

So…was this just a coincidence? Red Riding Hood has popped up in my lit class because we’re talking about different waves of Feminism. Red is often portrayed as a female that asks for what is coming to her; the fairy tale is an allegory for rape. Red, knowing the consequences, still has interaction with the wolf, or the “sexual predator.” And despite all arguments against this idea that the female gets what is coming to her, Red Riding Hood ends with Amanda Seyfried’s character casting her eyes upon the wolf with seduction and excitement. Our culture eats this stuff up: the guy with a bad reputation and the girl with her innocence to lose. So why is our culture programmed this way? It places responsibility on the victim, instead of recognizing the predator as the problem. Inevitably, all these questions made me think about PETSA.
PETSA: The tutorial all students were supposed to complete before registering for Spring 2013 classes. There were so many complaints:

      • “It’s a waste of time”
      • “I don’t need a video to tell me that no means no”
      • “I’m a female…why do I have to watch a video targeted towards men?”

Regardless of all the hype surrounding the tutorial, I went in with an open mind. PETSA actually ended up confirming something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Our culture places so much emphasis on preventative actions: don’t wear those clothes; don’t walk through that part of town, and so on, when we should be focusing on the bigger issue: the sexual predator. Yes, maybe these actions are seen as “risky behaviors,” but no one ever “asks for rape”; why should the victim have to censor themselves in order to be less appealing to the pervert?

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