Ragnarok came out last weekend, and so this week The Nose celebrates with an old-fashioned, star-studded holiday special. Netflix announced this week that it has suspended production on the sixth and final season of its award-winning drama series "House of Cards. And then, a University of Hartford freshman, Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe, has allegedly suffered some truly nightmarish -- and racist -- bullying, harassment, and, I guess, vandalism at the hands of her roommate, Brianna Brochu.
Brochu has bragged on Instagram about putting moldy clam dip in Rowe's lotion, rubbing used tampons on Rowe's backpack, and putting Rowe's toothbrush places "where the sun doesn't shine," among other things. Netflix's new episode series "Mindhunter" tells the story of the beginnings of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the FBI. As such, at its heart, it's really just a police procedural.
But, with David Fincher as one of its producers, the show rises above a well-worn genre with its look and feel reminiscent of movies like Se7en and Zodiac. The Colin McEnroe Show. When we read, are we trying to understand the inner lives of all of the people around the main character?
Do we worry about all the backdrop women in the vast swath of Modern American fiction? Or are men always the main characters? I remember reading as much Hemingway as I could, hoping beyond hope that he eventually wrote something that explored women's psyches beyond "unstable" and "sex object". They were my age at the start of the book, and yet their inner and outer lives had so very little resonance with mine.
The men's light treatment of them frightened me for my future. That last bit was unnecessary and undoes your point — I too saw through Robert right away, but what does that have to do with being evolved as a person? Why would our value only be through the reflection of a man, any man? I've been single for 14 years. There's a cute meme around with a cross woman holding a broken heart and saying, "what if I already met the man of my dreams and told him to fuck off? Our value is intrinsic, not mirrored. This from the New Yorker interview: But, for most of the story, I wanted to leave a lot of space for people to sympathize with Robert, or at least, like Margot, to be able to imagine a version of him—clueless, but well-meaning—that they can sympathize with.
Yes, so much this. His first response to Tamara's text - where he is polite and apologetic - made me literally sigh with relief. He's not a monster after all! Of course, being a man, I didn't immediately realize what was very very likely to happen next. It's fascinating that this was written by a MeFite, as upon reading it, I didn't feel like it was as grand a revelation as so many people saw it as, but I guess that comes from spending so much time reading similar tales from the women of MetaFilter and the women that MetaFilter links to.
I don't say that to diminish the originality or poignancy of Sock Person Cat Puppet's fucking nailed it with the sock name, BTW story - it's a masterpiece in its simplicity and in the way it lays out so elegantly an experience that is so common. It's almost like a beautiful reduction and distillation. I agree that it will or at least should become a classic of the genre, and should absolutely be taught to every college student in the country. She was the queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round. She didn't look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs.
Freshman year of high school? And I remember pretty acutely the revulsion and fear I felt, this realization that--oh!
I think part of the discomfort with this story, honestly, is not that Margot judges Robert because he's fat, but because she appraises him, which is something that people do with sexual partners! It's not like this is her first description of him as he walks up to her at the concession stand! But it is something we're not used to reading from a female gaze and a female voice and aimed at a nearly middle aged white man, either.
I was mildly uncomfortable with her judgment of him as fat. For me it was not a question of her being allowed to appraise him, because she judges him in some ways and glosses over many, many other things. She's constantly trying to assign good intentions to the things he says and does as she tries to understand him. So much of dating involves this interplay of empathy and narcissism: The part of the story that gave me the most feels was the particular kind of low-level background negging he does throughout the story, where any time she dares to have a trait — even if it's as simple as "living in a specific place" or "having a specific job" — it becomes a target for scorn, so she starts sanding herself down and erasing off of herself as many recognizable traits as possible.
So okay, when I was in middle school everyone thought I was a guy. And my straight-guy best friend did the same kind of relentless negging: Reading this story, I recognized that asshole in Robert to an uncanny and unsettling degree. And I recognized in Margot my response to him, which was to always be on the lookout for what the Approved Traits were, so I could erase my stupid shitty traits and have the Approved ones instead, and to take it for granted that with as many shitty traits as I had I would never find a friend I could expect better from.
And, I don't know. Probably if a miracle had occurred and I'd gotten to be a girl in middle school, that guy would have been my abusive boyfriend instead — I mean, if he'd been a boyfriend, he for sure would have counted as abusive. Probably he had girlfriends later in life who he treated the exact same way, and probably he found it awfully convenient that aiming that shit at women stays socially acceptable long after it stops being okay to aim it at men. I don't think any of this is really news to anyone else. But seeing my own — fuck it, I'll use the word — my own abuser's habits so clearly written, along with my own reaction, made me feel sick with recognition.
And seeing my entire corner of Twitter and now MetaFilter too roaring with anger at a fictional stand-in for that fucker is. The part of the story that gave me the most feels was the particular kind of low-level background negging he does throughout the story Yeah, this. Then, "After the movie, he came back to her.
Give me, he said. And that is a constant with the rest of the piece. From the very first paragraphs, we knew who he was, even if she didn't. And yet - nothing is overt, yet. Hey, so this is exactly the first date I had in college I was 18, he was But then again, how do you own a ton of vinyl and apparently not own a stereo? This is more common than you think. He wanted advice putting together the right collection of titles to impress friends, girls and clients.
When I asked him what kind of turntable he had, he admitted he didn't have one that he listened to everything streaming through his Sonos. Take a gander at Updike You should cause that is the internal monologue of someone you don't want to date. The guy who brought that in to our informal reading group never got the point.
Saw it as validation and there was no talking him out of it. He was totally cheating on his fiance and a couple of us were really troubled but bound by the years. I showed up for the wedding. The groom did not and I was glad but then it fell on me to explain what I knew and I did. Made her feel not-crazy in front of her parents and that was tough cause they just wanted to push her into the kind of connubial bliss they didn't have.
Her dad was looking very uncomfortable. This isn't a story about a sexual encounter at all to me. It's a story about choices and non-choices, self-identity, the experience of being a woman particularly young, attractive, presumably white or of white culture, and having at least some means which can't be uncoupled from sex because that's what women are for , culturally.
And that experience of not exactly non-consensual sex but is kind of a shrugged opting-in, that's a thing I'm glad to see being examined but I think it's simply a moment that illuminates the dynamic rather than being the whole of the story. It's a story that takes place over several months all in all, and it's interesting to me that that's the takeaway.
It's a good question, though: I guess, gender and our tendency to make stories about men aside, it's because we feel like we understand her implicitly. But do we really? I don't know what Margot wants for herself from this life, other than eventually to have a boyfriend who laughs at things she thinks are funny.
She seems to see all of this as the prologue to her Real Story, which is certainly a way I often looked at life as a young adult. But what does she want that story to be about? Maybe this is why this story is getting talked about so much. It speaks to different people in different ways. For me, the sex part was where it all came together and was the moment. It's the part that has stuck with me the most and taken me right back to when I was that age.
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I felt that part physically to the point of nausea because hell, that was me until I figured out what the hell was going on and why I was doing it. Everything about that part was relatable to the point of pain. Do a lot of men actually believe that women, particularly women they barely even know, are very likely not just to want but to expect to hear words like "I've always wanted to fuck a girl with nice tits" in bed? To be tossed around like an inanimate object and abide unilateral declarations of how much we like it?
It obviously isn't because they've already asked us what we like. Is it because they've heard and seen similar things in porn? Does that mean a lot of men believe porn is something that can or should be trusted to serve as a reliable if not universal example of genuine female desire and pleasure? I don't know what's worse: The whole thing punched me in the gut and left me reeling in a way I'm probably going to be trying to untangle for weeks. A sick sense of dread wedged itself in immediately and crept up to swallow everything exactly like it used to in real life.
It's like revisiting a nightmare in slow motion, except it gives me full-on flashbacks to vignettes from my friends' and my own unequivocally non-fictional experiences as young women. I might love it more than any other piece of ostensible fiction I've ever read. It resonates to my bones. I don't read the New Yorker, so I don't know what kind of fiction usually appears there, and I went into this piece completely blind. When I got to the line that ends "--but of course there was no such future, because no such boy existed, and never would," I immediately assumed we had arrived at the part of the story where he was actually going to kill her.
Good times, good times. I'm certainly thinking a lot about her: I can't help but mull over the many resonances between her gendered behaviors and my own. It's certainly easier to point at Robert as a perpetrator than it is to recognize the ways that I am complicit in my own disempowerment. And yet pointing at Robert offers no way out of the maze that is my own mess of learned female behavior. A significant power in this story, to me, is that it details Margot's participation in the broken dynamic at play. It doesn't let her off the hook.
Can we place her more fully at the center of this conversation? And in doing so might we perhaps find some access to the very agency that she fails to claim for herself? I used to routinely skip the fiction in the New Yorker because it was so predictable, but now I almost always read it. I think it was a Tessa Hadley story that made me think "Whoa, what have I been missing?
The literate public is tired of the old system, and the wheels are turning, however creakily! First, can you point to where I said that our only value is to be a reflection? I think that undoes your point about how awful my thoughts are, but whatever.
Second, congrats on being another woman who saw through Robert right away! I like how some of my fellow ladies are clamoring to let everyone know that their bullshit sensors are so finely tuned that they didn't have any feelings other than disgust for this fictional guy from the very beginning. Super awesome for you! I'm still over here in the "huh, I struggled with my feelings all the way through that because Robert gave me the willies but I also felt guilty for having those willies riiiiiight up until the end" camp, but maybe someday I'll just be able to decide right away with minimal input that men are trash instead of struggling with wondering if I'm being too harsh on someone who struggles with awkwardness the way I often do.
I cannot think of the last time a piece of fiction caused me to be angry at personal friends for not getting it. I take it back. Ugh this is the worst fanfiction posted by Feyala at 3: It was readable up until the "stand tall" bit. What the hell did I just read one paragraph of and start retching posted by rhizome at 6: I felt like this was actually pretty accurate, while still making Robert look just as unappealing as the original. My friend texted me the link to this story and I read it all in one go on my phone in my office. I felt simultaneously like this story had both taken up residence inside me and that it had crawled out from me to begin with.
The residue of a decade's worth of memories distilled into one story - things I thought I had forgot, and maybe wished I had. I felt like I had gone to confession and been absolved. I am very grateful for it. That thin coat of polite, well-intentioned decency covering a dark and awful mass of seething resentment, and wearing thin at all the usual points. Such a good story and sadly something I related to way too much based on my recent experience with a "Robert" I'm 50 and he was only a few years older, though. My story ended with a text that said 'weak bitch!!
Robert's friend snatched phone, made final rude text. I clicked on this story while standing in the middle of a punk show Sunday night, and just sank into it, slowly backing from the crowd, slowly leaning into a booth, then completely losing myself. It must have been horribly ironic in appearances, I looked like the world's most un-supportive date, completely ignoring the band and preferring to stare into my phone.
I agree with the caveats about Robert's weight. I've been in this situation millions of times, with plenty of extremely attractive men who suddenly repulsed me with hygiene issues that could have easily substituted. All in all a great moment in fiction, and a great shared experience in reaction! The thing that was both enlightening and discomfiting to me was Margot's shifting combination of projection and adjustment as she aligned her assumptions with new information.
The way Margot filled in gaps and failed to trust her own ambivalence felt like a lot of first or second dates to me, a guy who did online dating and texted a lot before first dates. I never considered that expectation, projection, and accommodation were so tightly linked, but OTOH I'm pretty sure I said "I feel like I'm not what you expected" on a couple awkward dates where it seemed in retrospect like Margot recalibrating in real time. That said, in the story I didn't expect dating magic because Robert was a pretty clear walking, talking red flag.
The ending was less a surprise and more "oh, he's exactly what he seemed. We have been her. To open that up and really look at it is a whole extra layer of work and processing that many of us do not have the strength, time or stamina to do. I've been compulsively showering since reading the story and I dread my next water bill. The way "talking about Margot" has manifested in my own life has been literally saying or hearing the words Cat Person when there are women around and then speaking in hushed tones with them about how utterly we have been her, and how quite frankly insane it has felt to watch a story like this go "viral" when we have spent months, years, decades shielding the Margot in us from public view.
It's useless talking about her us with men around because they do not and will literally never get it. Robert is easier to talk about because at least I don't look at myself in the mirror and see a shadow of him every day. For those who can't face actually reading it, Tauriq Moosa has a reaction thread on Twitter. I think the day I decided I was no longer willing to Margot my way through the dating process was, in retrospect, the day I stopped dating altogether. It was an unintended consequence, but I suppose it makes sense that it turned out that way.
This is absolutely incredible. From the National Review piece by Kyle Smith: I am right now, at this minute, thinking about a guy in another department on my floor that we are having to take action on who is a Robert. Middle-aged dude who has been told, by HR and his boss, that his constant pointless chatting up the young girl in our department makes her uncomfortable, to the point of hiding in the bathroom till he goes away, and he is not to speak to her at all.
And yesterday he fucking came by again, though he noped off when he saw me coming, the fucker. And yeah, me and my boss already called his boss. I want his ass gone but he's not my report. Whatever he thinks is happening in those conversations, it has nothing to do with who she really is.
And he doesn't care that he's scaring her , only about his fantasy of what that interaction means. She's just a thing he wants to pursue, not a person with her own life. I'm about ready to push his stupid face in. I'm kind of reeling. The National Review actually paid some guy named Kyle to mansplain Cat Person to a fictional character.
I came out as a lesbian and got divorced a couple years ago.
The question I've been asking myself this whole time is, "How did I not know? How did it take me this long to figure it out?
This right here is why. Thank you, fast ein Maedchen, for so concisely articulating something that's been bothering me for years. Yes, fast ein Maedchen nailed it for me too. The story brought me a shock of recognition.
I went to a women's college, and a lot of us went out with older men, professors or whoever. We would have this kind of bad sex and the awkward social interaction too and then recount it to each other, right down to the negative physical details. One of my friends described seeing herself and a guy naked in a mirror and thinking, "Wow, he is really old and I am really young.
Yep, I had a fling with a year-old when I was about 21, and I remember pressing my finger against his skin and watching how slowly it took to bounce back, feeling a mixture of fascination and revulsion. My number one association with the memory of him, to this day, is "spongy. As a result, that got lumped in as something I figured must be part of the "right" way to feel, with my role primarily being that of object.
I guess this is kind of the litmus, yeah. I cannot think of the last time a piece of fiction caused me to be angry at personal friends for not getting it. Am I an immature monster because I don't own a stereo?! I want to believe the cats are not real because I don't want anybody to be any more adverse to owning cats than they already might be. I've had awful sex with someone I wasn't attracted to at all because I didn't have the heart to tell him to leave.
If we're polling, I'm definitely on team "We shouldn't need the end to know who Robert is if we're reading close enough. A context like that where someone would not feel comfortable saying no would be difficult to engineer by accident or unaware. You know everything you need to know about Robert once you notice that he never once uses her name. I don't know whether I hate this story or love this story; all I know is that the first time a dude friend wanted to talk about it with me I became completely enraged and cut the conversation off at the pass.
By the way--if anyone is interested in more work that explores similar themes to this story then I strongly suggest Her Body and Other Parties. It's a short story collection by Carmen Machado, the author of The Husband Stitch excellent response to that story here. A lot of the reviews allude to it being more in the genre of magical realism.
This is true, and I mention this because personally, I often find it more difficult to connect to the emotional and social truths within a work that's not Just The Facts, Ma'am. So when I say I find Machado's work to be as disconcertingly incisive and brutally intimate as Cat Person--well, I'm not exaggerating.
You literally wrote a book about being in your twenties and trying to get drunk and have meaningless sex with women posted by vespabelle at 1: Sometimes I wind up reading or seeing something just because there's so very much buzz about it that I feel like I'm too much out of the swim if I don't. This was one of those times. Having read it, I can understand why it's generating so much conversation. This story felt very real to me, almost painfully so. I haven't had a single experience that was directly parallel to Margot's, but I certainly saw elements I recognized from when I was in my 20s and didn't yet have the experience to know when something wasn't working or know how to safeguard myself.
As a young woman, I very often had weird, maladjusted older guys try to put the moves on me. I've had very brief relationships that had little flashes of fun and connection on which I based hopes that they would develop into something good, but that were mostly just awkward, oil-and-water experiences. I've had awful sex with someone I wasn't attracted to at all because I didn't have the heart to tell him to leave. I've had men be horrible to me after I indicated, much more politely than Margot's roommate's text did, that I wasn't interested in them. I think this is almost the first time I've ever seen a rendering of a young woman's perspective on a failed brief relationship, which is strange, because I've certainly seen legions of such accounts written from the male perspective.
Written by Kristen Roupenian her first piece for the magazine , Cat Person tells the story of a young woman named Margot who meets an older man named Robert while working at a movie theatre in her college town. When Margot rebuffs him in the aftermath, Robert reveals a mean streak. Online, much of the response has been from women who saw themselves in Margot:. Yet given that this was a short story, and that social media is generally not known as a space for subtle and nuanced literary criticism, others felt the piece was ripe for misreadings.