Exclusionary Principles

Taking the story of The Little Red Riding Hood at face value, you’d gather that a little girl goes through the woods to give her grandmother a basket full of goodies and a wolf follows her with the intentions of doing both she and her grandmother harm, because that’s what wolves do. The actual truth is that the story of Little Red Riding Hood, in every version, is meant to teach women about the dangers of sexuality because no man (wolf) can be trusted and will rob young women of their virtue.

So though little Red makes no advances towards the Wolf or expresses any interest in his advances, the moral we are supposed to gain from this story  is that her being stalked and possibly violated by a wolf is her own fault for going into the woods (diverging away from the path designed for her as a woman). And we are never given a reason for why the Wolf wants to harm Red and her grandmother because we are expected to assume that as a wolf it’s just his nature and he needs no reason. While this may appear as nothing more than an antique story told by mothers to warn their daughters of what not to do in societies that once viewed women as products for men, that could be damaged by any trace of erased virtue for marriage, this kind of lesson is still silently told in our society today.

When women wear revealing clothes, we not only label them as anything demeaning that implies promiscuity, regardless of her actual sexual history (though judgment for women’s sexual pasts should be no more judged than a man’s in any vain). Not only do we label women for revealing clothes, but in the event that one of these labeled women is sexually violated, we often suggest that this was in some way her fault. As modern as our society is believed to be, we still associate the color red with sin, sex appeal, lust, or the devil. We still preserve these primitive ideas from children’s stories like The Little Red Riding Hood: that our little girls aren’t to trust any man, and that women are to be judged and condemned if they don’t represent the concepts of the white dress on a wedding day.  We are still pretending that people aren’t individuals and placing everyone under the umbrellas of labels, stereotypes, groups, general ideas, principles, and concepts that we know cannot apply to everybody. Our society will never represent the freedom we beg for, the freedom politicians try to give us, or the freedom we think we have if we continue to advocate exclusion. In everything we do, we exclude people or teach some lesson that over-generalizes and forces people to be judged by nothing, whether it is through large-scale agendas like policies and laws, or things we believe are small-scale, like fairy tales and childhood stories, but are actually so much bigger, we exclude.

For hundreds of years we have engrained these exclusionary principles into our cultures through these fairy tales and childhood stories. Disney Princesses are today realized for their truths, that they encourage all females to aspire to be inept princesses, while the hardworking Queens are painted as evil because that’s what our society does – we punish the queens, women that work and advance and refuse to bend to the emotional and weak stereotypes of women, while we glorify nothing but our ideas of beauty through the title of princess, but it’s so much deeper than that. Snow White taught that to be beautiful, your skin had to be “fair”. So Black people and most other minorities immediately had no chance to be seen as beautiful. Ariel the Little Mermaid taught us we are our father’s possession until we become our husband’s possession, where we lose our voice. Mulan made it clear that to fight the gender role and stereotypes we are attached to as women, we must both expect and accept to be seen as less than a woman and settle for exclusion. Sleeping Beauty taught us that we spend our lives asleep until we are given a true purpose by receiving a man’s kiss and those of us who never receive the kiss have no purpose and are in essence, dead. Pocahontas played out the discrimination interracial couples will always face by both their families and societies for everyone to see and believe in. Red Riding Hood told us all men were wolves and if you choose a different path in life, you deserve the negativity that may come. So what happens to the women who don’t live the lives of these princesses, or the men who don’t plan to violate all women? Well they are excluded from the stories and thus excluded from the ideas we pass throughout society, so we continue to reinforce these exclusionary principles designed to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t fit into the mold.


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