On Monday, a piece of short fiction called “Cat Person,” a female narrator’s account of a date gone wrong, suddenly exploded on social media. Written by Kristen Roupenian and published last weekend by The New Yorker, the story had arrived at a moment when real-life women are opening up about sexual harassment. Early boosters found Roupenian’s story clever and highly relatable — a succinct picture of the sexual pressure many young women feel. But opinions soon split, often along gender and generational lines.
this is such a good story and describes things I have only felt in non-verbal, half-formed thoughts https://t.co/cnUmrXmfuy?amp=1— sebastian gawker (@libbycwatson) December 9, 2017
Soon enough, the discussion shifted in an unexpected direction: Because the narrator, at several points in the story, expressed revulsion at the male character’s body, some commentators objected to what they saw as “fat-shaming.”
Oh. And I was really bothered by the fat stuff. Which doesn?t mean it shouldn?t be there. That?s how people think. And it?s fiction. It?s fine. But it came up so much! Like we get it?— roxane gay (@rgay) December 11, 2017
Still, others were grateful to learn that the Twitter world, for all its flaws, genuinely cares about serious fiction.
Kinda cool that the New Yorker's "Cat Person" has turned the entire internet into a cranky book club, but it's bizarre how many people apparently think the entire point of fiction is figuring out which gender is the bad one.— Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) December 12, 2017