Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cat Person

So last night I had what I would call a negative gender experience when a mature-age male stand-up comedian in the line-up I was part of later on in the night called his teenage daughter "bitch" and the mostly male audience laughed.

What does this have to do with cats?

Well nothing much directly. Except that the short story "Cat Person" published this week in New Yorker magazine (a story that doesn't have much to do with cats either) is about a different but similarly negative gender experience between a woman and a man, written from the woman's point of view. And going by the massive 'viral' reaction to it by women who relate (mostly) and men who object (mostly) and find the story misandrist, I got to thinking once more about the pervasiveness of this gender divide and how it cannot possibly be what we are stuck with, and that if it is, we are definitely doomed to mutual unhappiness and, ultimately, destruction.

"Cat person" is an extremely real and unsensationalised story of an unhappy sexual encounter that is the culmination of a six-month courting experience mostly conducted in a series of texts between a young woman (20) and an older man (34). The theme is simple enough but it is told by the woman narrator in a way that somehow cuts brutally to the heart of the male-female disconnect we have not seen done quite as clearly and cleverly before.

The man in the story makes so many mistakes against his own self-interest in what he says/doesn't say and does/doesn't do once they meet up before, during and after sex - if his purpose is to have a long-term relationship with the woman, which it is - and the woman, seeing all these mistakes and being disappointed and put off, nonetheless acts against her better judgement and self interest by initiating sex with a man she has pretty much decided is not the witty charming 'cat person' she had thought and hoped he was.

In the end, not only does a relationship not develop but both parties are quite seriously wounded by the experience, yet they both actively orchestrated and self-sabotaged it. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?

Why? Because women read (and write) romance and erotica and men watch (and make) aggressive, misogynistic porn, and never the twain shall happily meet as long as these gender-dividing practices continue.

Why? Because the clitoris is deceptively hard to please and too many men resent and fear having to work out how to please it - to the point of cutting it off to take it out of the equation entirely.

Why? Because women generally take too much of the responsibility for this deceptive difficulty (it really is not that hard to please) and are typically too forgiving of men who struggle with the challenge and the wider one it symbolises of having to get to know women.

After reading this story I want to say to men: Just trust us to like you and be forgiving (indeed too forgiving of your weaknesses), and in exchange be prepared to do all that you can to try and figure out what makes us happy, before, during and after sex. Mostly this requires paying way more attention than you typically do to the signals we give off, including the words we speak, and asking what we mean if you are confused. Please ask rather than assume, and pretty please don't take your cues from porn!

This seems a fair exchange and the exchange that nature intended (except for female over-forgiveness, which is a survival mechanism developed from living in a man's world that makes too many excuses for male ignorance of womankind) and is the exchange that nature depends upon to take us forward into a post-misogynistic world in which men and women actually get on and everyone is a whole lot happier, cat and dog people alike.

And don't call us bitch; we're not dogs. Meow.

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