Before that day, Grandmother used to say with a mixture of stern resolve and wariness, "Always stay on the path. You must never stray from the path, Red."
After that day, Grandmother says with gusto, "Never leave home without your gardening knife!" I like the metaphor of it, for sure. Ripping patriarchy to shreds from the inside out. Poetic justice. It was like Taking Back the Night ... with Knife.
But the before and after messages are different versions of the same old tale. They both tell me that it is still my responsibility to stop the wolf by changing how I come and go in this world. And I know I'm the one who gave Grandma the idea for the revised parting message about carrying a knife always. In that moment, to save my life and Grandma's, I had no choice but to use violence. And I admit, it felt awesome and exhilarating to avoid death.
But let's make one thing clear: it's not the knife that will actually end this thing. These monsters will keep on coming unless we stop them at their source. These monsters are not born into the world, they are made that way. Trouble is, the monsters are made nowhere and everywhere, and we're all a part of it. We make them that way.
It's not innocent, our storytelling. We organize the world according to Little Red Riding Hoods and Big Bag Wolves, and set up the story to unfold a certain way. The way it goes is this: I, the innocent young girl, have a mind of my own. I disobey the rules, and I get punished for it. I end up in the pit of a Wolf belly, and some macho man hero saves the day. You all congratulate him and scold me. "Tsk tsk, you...