My Response to “Cat Person”
Not sure if you saw on twitter this weekend but people are impassioned by the fiction piece in this week’s edition of “The New Yorker”, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian. Not being able to put it down, I read the story on trains and during downtime at work.
“Cat Person” is a fictional account of a twenty-year-old college sophomore, Margot, and her brief dating period and sexual encounter with an older hipster type, Robert. It’s a push and pull narrative where you’re not sure who to root for until the piece gradually but steadily takes a familiar turn, one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth – a bad taste that you unfortunately acquired from your own dating history.
The piece discusses the ins and outs of dating in 2017. It visits the age-old question of “whether or not to have sex” with the casual honesty of the contemporary dating experience. And not only the pressure to have sex with someone, but the quick analysis of the inconvenience, consequences, and damage that could occur if you were to stop a sexual encounter. You calculate this while your shirt might already be off and you might already be straddling him. It is only now that you come to the realization that you may not want this. Do you go through with it? It’s a complicated decision for anyone to make, much less in the 30 seconds it takes for him to take of his pants.
Another aspect of the short story that particularly resonated with me is that through Robert’s pretty sporadic flirting style and “playing hard to get” attitude, it is only revealed after the two have sex that Margot had been present in a detailed narrative that Robert had crafted in his head, one Margot was never privy to as he never expressed it.
I cannot tell you how many times my presence has been incorporated into a man’s fantasy without my knowledge – only to be thrown into the deep end of his plans for the future and then attacked when I feel shocked and overwhelmed while these plans only existed in his head and were never communicated to me, as if it is my fault and utter stupidity that I couldn’t have predicted this.
When I read it, I was both disgusted with myself and completely validated as I could unfortunately completely relate. The piece was gritty and dripped of honesty you, yourself, didn’t want to confront.
Immediately after I finished the short story, I followed Roupenian on twitter and shared the link to the piece. I also retweeted and favorited other female writer’s tweets about the piece. “Cat Person” gained momentum and I am dutifully searching for more people’s opinions of “Cat Person”. The response I have read from women has been overwhelming.
Though male responses were less prevalent still a whole twitter is dedicated to their less than supportive tweets. See more here.
The specific themes in “Cat Person” that personally impacted me are most certainly not the only themes and issues other women related to. I would love to hear your perspective on this story. Though a brutal read, I hope this piece grants you a sort of validation or recognition that you are not alone in this and many of us share your experience.