Culture

This Twitter Account Is Collecting Men’s Bad Opinions On The New Yorker’s ‘Cat Person’

"Can you direct me towards the value of this well-written and relatable piece?"

In news that is equal parts refreshing and completely draining, the internet has been set on fire today over a short story in The New Yorker.

On the one hand, it’s rare for a piece of literature — let alone one by a relatively unknown author — to provoke such viral praise and debate. That’s pretty cool! On the other hand, if you are a woman who has dated men, the story will read as straight-up horror and bombard you with every terrible romantic/sexual experience you’ve ever had in your life. How good is culture!

If you haven’t read it already, ‘Cat Person’ — written by Kristen Roupenian — follows a romantic encounter between a 20-year-old uni student and a 34-year-old man she meets at her part-time job. They flirt, then go on a date, then have disappointing sex, then awkwardly part ways. Nothing special, sure. But that’s the point. The story is told in painstaking detail, revealing each moment of discomfort and intrigue and uncertainty and paranoia felt by the young woman.

It’s being praised by many women as intensely, horrifically relatable.

And, right on cue, men are also chiming in! Of course, that could be a good thing. Though fictional, the story is a great insight into the interior world of many women in uncomfortable romantic situations. That’s a helpful resource for heterosexual men. The story could really help foster a greater sense of empathy and understanding — particularly of how certain actions or behaviours can be met with alarm bells and mistrust.

Some men are taking this on board, and participating in really interesting discussions. Others… well, they’re not doing that so well:

In response to this, a brand new Twitter account is collecting the particularly dismissive and confusing comments men are posting in response to the story. ‘Men React To Cat Person’ only has a few entries, but frankly it’s already iconic.

There are interesting debates to be had around the story’s treatment of the male protagonist, Robert — particularly in regards to fat-shaming. But the responses shared by the account are less interested in properly exploring that than they are keen on outright dismissing the female protagonist’s thoughts and feelings.

Others are protesting the merit of the general storyline. A story about a date and bad sex!? What’s next? A novel about a rich dude throwing parties and wooing his ex-girlfriend?? A book about driving around and taking loads of drugs?? Something big and sprawling about an average family in the Midwest?

It’s almost like stories with men at the centre are automatically granted more authority and value, and anything else — particularly involving sex and romance — is written off as dumb chick lit due to centuries of structural subjugation. Weird.


Read ‘Cat Person’ in full here.


Feature image: David Martyn Hunt/Flickr CC.