In December 2017, The New Yorker published a short story titled “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian. Highlighting gender expectations, dynamics and the intersection of consent and appropriate behavior, Roupenian explores a brief relationship between Margot, a college student and the older man starts dating, Robert. As her interactions with Robert begins to turn, Margot feels uncomfortable and torn. “Cat Person” became one of the most read fiction pieces of the year. In an interview, Roupenian explains why the story-especially Margot’s actions- elicited such intense reactions and opinions from readers.
“That option, of blunt refusal, doesn’t even consciously occur to her—she assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy. It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.”
Read “Cat Person” here
Read Kristen Roupenian’s interview here