Hearing a short story named Cat Person makes you think that it might be a twisted sci-fi tale about a half-man half-cat hybrid. While we’re now somewhat curious as to what that story would itself entail, that’s not the case with the actual story published by the New Yorker.
Written by Kristen Roupenian and published on Dec. 11, 2017, Cat Person is actually a short story that is about bad sex and consent — packing a punch that the internet needed to hear.
I don't really know how to do justice to the conversation that is happening around my story but I am grateful for it. I need to go take a walk in the snow and hug my dog, but if you have messaged me directly, thank you, and in the meantime: https://t.co/IjVFkzWGi6
— Kristen Roupenian (@KRoupenian) December 9, 2017
Cat Person tells a lifelike story about a 20-year-old girl named Margot who meets an older guy named Robert. The two start texting at first, then begin hanging out and eventually go on a date. The date doesn’t end up going all that well, at least from Margot’s perspective, but it still ends in a sexual experience that Margot doesn’t feel all too comfortable participating in. Afterwards, she calls it off with Robert and hopes she doesn’t hear from him anymore.
The story itself is fictional, yet it was written in a way meant to reflect modern dating culture. Our society being right in the middle of the #MeToo campaign, we’ve begun to ask questions of what is and isn’t appropriate, and Cat Person draws a pretty defined line on the matter.
“This particular story doesn’t concern sexual abuse or harassment, it doesn’t concern workplace abuse or rape, but it does take a look at people’s inability to read each other, inability to read each other sexually,” New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman told the Huffington Post.
The story has since blown up and gone viral since it’s initial posting. Many have posted their responses and reactions on Twitter, praising Roupenian for starting a conversation that needed to be had:
Maybe if you can't relate to 'Cat Person' it's because you are not a woman who has ever been on a date with a man.
— Meghan Murphy (@MeghanEMurphy) December 11, 2017
Cat Person tl;dr: men and women don't understand each other. The consequences for women are very different from the consequences for men.
— Eva (@evacide) December 11, 2017
You either die a Cat Person or live long enough to see yourself become Keaton's Mom.
— Mundy (@dickfundy) December 12, 2017
I have read way too many classic novels & been forced to humanize men who actually murdered someone for you to come at me with "Margot in #CatPerson was not relatable."
— Ttison (@24merrittgold) December 11, 2017
Honestly, if you read submissions for a literary magazine, by the end of a year, you'll have read a version of Cat Person where the man is the protagonist at least twenty times.
— Megan Giddings (@megiddings) December 11, 2017
I thought Cat Person was just fine but then I saw how much it annoyed terrible men and now I love it
— Siobhan Thompson (@vornietom) December 11, 2017
“I’m sure [the response] does have something to do with the nature of our discourse right now, about sex, and about consent,” Treisman also told to The Huffington Post. “Those kinds of issues are so much in the news and in the air right now that this was a way to look at them, somewhat away from the political sphere, and the sphere of Hollywood producers and so on.”