“Cat Person” and the dark pleasures of empathy

Anastasia Berg at The Point:

To read well, Roupenian avers, is to “unmask.” To peel away the “pretty words” and reveal the “actual physical experiences” that lie beneath. Keep your guard up or you might just end up getting finger-fucked by a fat old man who will call you a whore. This ethic of suspicion is a lesson that many have already internalized: the revelation of any failure, in a person or an artwork, has become sufficient to dismiss either out of hand. In the case of art, in some circles it has become the whole point of confronting it. Even Roupenian was not safe from the wrath of the sort of failing readers that Pham identifies, readers who rushed to accuse the author and her story of having an ageism, fat shaming or classism “problem.” The problem with Roupenian’s story is not however that it is too frank in its portrayal of the objects of desire of a very young woman. The problem is not even that it lies. The problem is that it encourages us to lie to ourselves.

more here.