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"Little Red Riding Hood" and Gender Roles

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The story “Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault was written around the 17th century. Interestingly enough, some of the gender stereotypes in the story are similar to the gender stereotypes examined today. It is a very intriguing concept to explore how gender stereotypes back then are similar to now. In the story, there are many instances where little red riding hood is a metaphor for all women and the werewolf is a metaphor for all men according to the author. First, there are many examples from the story where little red riding hood is showing typical stereotypes of young women from that time period. For example, Perrault writes, “the little girl took a roundabout way, entertaining herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and gathering bouquets of little flowers” (Perrault). This shows typical behavior that a young woman would do at that time. It shows women as innocent and delicate. According to one source about women in the 17th century, “most women were housewives and they were kept very busy” (“Life For Women in the 1600’s). We can also see this gender stereotype when little red riding hood’s mother gives her a cake and a pot of butter from home. On the other hand, the werewolf represents the gender roles of all men during that period of time. The character of the werewolf is sneaky, violent, and deceiving. For example, Perrault writes, “And, saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and are her all up” (Perrault). This shows how the werewolf took advantage of the young girl. According to another source, this example lines up with male gender stereotypes in the 17th century. Men had all the power and control in the family. Men did not spend a lot of time with their families (“Gender Roles in 16th and 17th Century”). In addition, women were expected to obey their husbands. A woman was also to blame for the faults of men” (“Gender Roles in 16th and 17th Century”). It is interesting to note that at the end of “Little Red Riding Hood” there is a moral. Instead of blaming the werewolf for tricking Little Red Riding Hood, the moral of the story blames Little Red Riding Hood for being tricked. According to a modern film called Miss Representation, women are often blamed for things that are out of their control. Just like Little Red Riding Hood was blamed for being eaten, a lot of women today are blamed for assault (Newsom). In addition, “Little Red Riding Hood” connects to other stories that we read in class. In “Little Red Hat, the girl says “I am going to my grandmother’s to take her some soup” (“Little Red Hat”). This is similar to “Little Red Riding Hood” in the sense that the young girl is in charge of cooking and bringing her grandmother soup. A film that shows gender roles is I Was a Teenage Werewolf where the main character Tony is a troubled teen. The movie shows  how werewolves are connected with male gender roles. The film shows that men are supposed to be tough and aggressive which is exactly what Tony is (Landon). Through the readings and films in this class, the gender roles and stereotypes in “Little Red Riding Hood” are commonly seen. In addition, outside sources can confirm that the gender roles in the 17th century are still seen today.

Outside Sources:

http://www.localhistories.org/17thcenturywomen.html

https://prezi.com/uanc_8-fp1mv/gender-roles-in-16th-and-17th-century-england/

http://therepresentationproject.org/film/miss-representation/about-the-film/

Class Sources:

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#italy

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault

https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4841229/View

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