Little Red Riding Hood is the story of a little girl who on her way to her sick grandmother, encounters a wolf who asks her where she is headed to. In Charles Perrault’s version, after the girl’s naïve reply, the wolf arrives at the grandmother’s house before Little Red Riding Hood. He deceives the grandmother into opening the door, eats her and dresses up as her. Once the little girl arrives, she does not recognise the wolf dressed up as her grandmother, although she remains quite puzzled by her granny’s big teeth. The wolf eats her too. End of the story.
Wolves still dress up as grandmothers. They still deceive little girls. They tell them reality is irrelevant. They make them question themselves and their guts, the very same guts that rang all the alarm bells when Little Red Riding Hood saw the big arms, big legs, big ears, big eyes and big teeth. Notice how the wolf attacks the grandmother before attacking the granddaughter. He could have just eaten the girl in plain sight, but no, that would have been too obvious, too dangerous even for the wolf. The grandmother, the mother would have been alerted by their beloved daughter’s absence. They would have sooner or later found the wolf. After all, wolves know that women do marvels when we come together.
In this context, where deceiving wolves have monopolised the discourse, maintaining intergenerational feminist transmission (radical feminism being a pleonasm, I dropped the adjective) seems more difficult than ever. It is no longer enough to expose misogyny for what it is to spark sex consciousness: various forms of oppressions have been turned into empowerment thanks to queer theory and its advocates. Simultaneously, material reality, women’s lived experience is presented as the ultimate form of subjugation that must be eliminated. By taking a long premise to explain the context that enabled queer theory to rise, I would like to suggest that queer politics are particularly pernicious in public discourse in that they operate an essentialisation of misogynist practices, rendering any criticism against them impossible and by the same token hijacking any struggle against them. The problem has a name, but it can no longer be pronounced. In this misogynist atmosphere, political consciousness and organisation of young women is a matter of urgency.
This article appears in the Spinning and Weaving: Radical Feminism for the 21st Century anthology edited by Elizabeth Miller. To read the rest of it and other thought-provoking pieces, you can order your copy online. And remember: