Here is something rather comical for a change - something I came up with in my "Creative Writing" - Class at university. The infamous Red Riding Hood is having a heart-to-heart with her Psychiatrist and one of her creators, Charles Perrault.


The Red Riding Hood Syndrome

A psychiatrist's office somewhere in the Western hemisphere

shall be the stage for our drama today;

but, I pray thee, listen,

to learn what happens when the body of science meets the symbol of fiction

to engage in a discussion that raises questions of monumental importance.

Psychiatrist's office. Enter Red Riding Hood.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Well, lass, you sure you're right here?

You sure you didn't stray from the path?

RED RIDING HOOD: Of course I didn't. I never stray from the right path. [Pause.] I believe I have an appointment.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Ah, I see. And you are …

RED RIDING HOOD: Red Riding Hood. No, Little Red Cap. No – wait: Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. Nay, that sounds like a second-class Moulin Rouge. Okay: Little Red Riding Hood – no, skip the "Little", that's too mainstream. Simply: Red.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Alright. [Pause.] So, am I right to presume that you are the Red Riding Hood who …

RED RIDING HOOD: … who got eaten by the Big Bad Wolf? Aye, sounds quite like me.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: [Pause.] I'm sorry, but the thing is, I am not quite sure why you are here …

RED RIDING HOOD: [Furious.] Why do you think I'm here?! D-do you think it's okay if little girls get eaten? Do you think it's a nice thing to read of them getting tricked, and swallowed, and blamed? Do you think that funny? To read of me being gobbled up by a thousand times?! Is that entertaining enough?

[Aside.] My pretty red hood will never be the same again.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: [Frightened.] Okay. Why don't you tell me your story, and I'll see if I can be of help, alright?

RED RIDING HOOD: [Aside, aggressive.] I'll give you a story, pal!

[Pause.] Well, it all started with that god-awful man! Bloody French fool ruined my end – he ruined the whole tale!

Stroll through the woods, he said. Pick some flowers, he said. It's perfectly safe, he said! There I was, enjoying myself, and then he came along …

THE PSYCHIATRIST: He? That's … the Wolf?

RED RIDING HOOD: Of course, it's the Wolf! Who do you think it is? Santa Clause? Prince Charming? The Ghost of Christmas Past?!

[Pause.] Anyway. There he came along. And I thought to myself, 'Ooh, a talking Wolf – never seen that before!'. And I swear I wasn't going to fall for his trick; after all, I had always been clever enough in all the centuries before …

But then that French fool started to tinker with the tale!

THE PSYCHIATRIST: What fool are we talking about?

RED RIDING HOOD: One of the writer-kind. Perrault was his name, Charles Perrault.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: … And he did what exactly?

RED RIDING HOOD: I'll tell you what he did! [Angry.] You see, I've always been a smart, clever little girl – no wolf would fool me. But this French pen-pusher, who had obviously never had girlfriend in his life, turned me into a stupid, vain little simpleton who is not even capable of telling a Granny from a Big Bad Wolf! Like, what was he thinking? That if we don't have cocks we don't have brains?

THE PSYCHIATRIST: And how do you feel about that?

RED RIDING HOOD: Well, what do you think how I feel about that? [Pause.] 'Ooh, thank you, Master Writer Sir, for making me the most popular idiot chick of the fairy tale genre?' Thank you very much.

[Pause.] Anyway, why am I always to blame for the misfortunes in the tale? It's not my bloody fault! After all, I'm simply the way I was written. It's that Perrault who's to blame, him and all men like him – they write us stupid because they like us to be stupid, and then they blame us for being the way we were taught to be! Outrageous. He had me play the fool who is to blame for her own doom – and the world stands and applauds!

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Well, have you tried talking with him about it?

RED RIDING HOOD: Talk with him?! I'm a fictional character, remember, it's not like I can pay him a visit and say, 'Hey, buddy, how is your day going? By the way I'm really pissed off by the way you wrote me!' Yeah, that'll do it.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: I think you should talk to him, you could try to make him see the situation through your eyes; perhaps, then, he would understand and change his opinion of women. You might be surprised.

RED RIDING HOOD: You know, Doctor, I have been surprised by a man before, and we all know how well that worked out in the tale.

[Pause.] No, that won't do. But, trust me, good doctor, I have other ways to deal with men, and this man in particular. I have been rewritten as a character a hundred times, and I have seen many a hundred years go by; I learned many things, and I made many friends; friends who have been wronged by their writers, just like me ...

[Increasingly melodramatic.] We will break their pens, and twist their every word. We will fight back, as the creator loses control over its creature! Fell deeds awake, sisters arise! We shall no longer be silenced! Old ideas shall be unwritten, rewritten, and one day our fantasy shall be reality. We will –

Enter Charles Perrault, author of Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, and owner of misogynist thoughts.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: [Uncomfortable.] – talk?

CHARLES PERRAULT: Bonjour mon docteur –

RED RIDING HOOD: What is he doing here?!

THE PSYCHIATRIST: He is being treated here. Monsieur Perrault is in treatment for his … neuroses. [Increasingly frightened.] W-what a coincidence, right? D-did I forget to mention that earlier? My bad. But since we are all here now – I mean we could –

RED RIDING HOOD: – break his legs … chop his feet off … cut off his –

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, that's quite enough for now, thank you very much!

[Pause.] Monsieur Perrault, it was good of you to come.

[To both.] I know this must be a huge shock for both of you, but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this situation here is indeed desperate. I have tricked you into this meeting because I strongly believe that it would be very good for the pair of you to just get it out. Say it, whatever it is that you have ever wanted to say to each other, now would be the time.

Miss Red, Ladies First?

RED RIDING HOOD: I'm afraid my words would be of rather physically painful character; unfortunately my fists are very bad communicating partners, but my knees are particularly eager to be properly introduced to the crotch of Monsieur "Afraid-of-the-Pussy" Perrault.

CHARLES PERRAULT: Mon Dieu!

THE PSYCHIATRIST: [Uncomfortable.] Very well then. Monsieur Perrault, give it away!

CHARLES PERRAULT: Well. I do not, in any way, understand the trouble about this whole affair. I am no monster of any kind, no fanatic or sadist; I am simply a provider of good principles and morales embellished with the charm and magic of fairy tales.

RED RIDING HOOD: Pump your breaks, Frogman. Did I just hear good principles and morales? What good principles do tales provide in which almost every female character is either a bad guy or merely too stupid to play the part of the bad guy (and thus ends up being the desirably passive heroine)? Whether good or bad, the woman is always to blame.

THE PSYCHIATRIST: [To Red Riding Hood.] Now, that's a very harsh assumption –

RED RIDING HOOD: Why are never the male characters of the tale the issue of blame? Even after men committing heinous crimes – killing hundreds of women in a chamber as blue as their beards, or eating young girls alive – the woman of the tale is still blamed for having provoked such drastic actions?

THE PSYCHIATRIST: Monsieur Perrault, we talked about this: no more glorification of violence against women –

RED RIDING HOOD: Truly, I see very clearly what sort of principles these are and what kind of morales they preach. You call us the fair sex because we are not supposed to be strong nor smart nor powerful – no, beauty is the only ideal of the perfect woman in your eyes. She shall not speak nor move, but she may smile as men think for her, talk for her, choose her clothes and proper behaviour. And woe will betide the woman who dares to rebel!

CHARLES PERRAULT: Mademoiselle Rouge, I can only say that I believe it is a blessing for a woman to know her place.

RED RIDING HOOD: And I, Monsieur, believe it is a necessity for a man to be aware of the truth that time changes everything, and that times indeed have changed, for women these days choose their own place.

THE END?