Friday, November 20, 2009

Who's Sick of Crazy Cat Lady Stereotypes?


Am I a crazy cat lady? Maybe but I am also the crazy animal rescue lady and the crazy grandma and the crazy dog lady and the crazy Christmas lady and the crazy human rights lady and the crazy honor the veterans lady - well, you get the picture. Just because you are passionate does NOT mean you are crazy. However, I say that with a caveat: I do not condone hoarding where the animals and the human being suffers immeasurably.

Last week, PEOPLEPets.com associate editor Helin Jung caught a special segment on ABC devoted to so-called cat ladies, a term she came to question as she watched. See what Jung (the proud owner of a 9-year-old Maltese named Ethel) has to say, and join in on the discussion!

20/20 ran a special last week called, "Cat Ladies: Why Do They Do It?" It was a feature about director Christie Callan-Jones's new documentary, Cat Ladies, which follows the lives of four women "whose lives and self-worth have become intractably linked to cats." Any of this feeling inappropriate yet? How about this: 20/20 conducted an interview with one of Callan-Jones's subjects, with the subject sitting in her bed under the covers.

A friend of mine in her mid-20s has a standard refrain she uses after a break-up: "I'm doomed, and I'm going to end up a crazy cat lady." Everything about that sentiment is absurd, not to mention the fact that she's allergic to cats. When I adopted a shelter cat, the first thing all of my friends did was to warn me against adopting any more because I was going to, yes, turn into a crazy cat lady. Which brings us to this notion of crazy cat ladies — women who are loveless, alone in the world and totally batty.

Bella DePaulo of Psychology Today wrote a scathing column about both the documentary and the TV segment, criticizing both for creating "a gratuitous link between being single and being a crazy cat lady."

So what is a cat lady, exactly? The film synopsis takes a stab at it: "It's not the number of cats that defines someone as a "cat lady," but rather their attachment, or non-attachment, to human beings. They create a world with their cats in which they are accepted and in control - a world where they ultimately have value."

Apart from the documentary's inherently condescending view of these women, it perpetuates an inaccurate stereotype of cat people as a freak show that only encourages the cultural bullying that cat owners (and female ones, especially) have to deal with. Then we end up with tongue-in-cheek novelty items such as the Crazy Cat Lady Board Game ("Assuming you still have human friends, the aim of this 2-4 player game is to collect as many cats as you can") and the Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure (She "has a wild look in her eye and comes with six cats"). And, maybe the crazy cat lady character on The Simpsons is funny, but in general, we're over it.

14 comments:

Melvin said...

I embrace being a cat lady. Even at 22. But I'm far from crazy, and I can say that most people with several cats are more sane than those without.
Why don't these people explain the benefits that owning a cat can have on one's health? I feel that cat owners receive this terrible stigma, but what about the little old ladies with 50 tiny yapping dogs? I've never heard of a crazy dog lady. But who knows, maybe we are all a little crazy, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'd rather be stuck in a world consumed by my cats than go out and drink my life away or party all the time (like many of my "non" crazy friends).
Ugh, I could write a novel here. Haha. But I think you've already said it best!

Inigo Flufflebum and d'Artagnan Rumblepurr said...

We're pretty happy that mummy is a crazy cat lady (it means we get the tuna he he he)

MISS PEACH ~(^.^)~ said...

Meowing out loud Mimi...mommy is getting there! Now Hunny Bunny is sleeping inside the house on mommies bed no less, while I am still insisting on staying in the litter box at all times! The beans wonder who is really crazy...
Love Misses Peach who got a bath yesterday...

Goldie, Shade and Banshee said...

With three, the PM was told she was officially a cat lady and she's proud of it! We are glad too!!

Heather in MN said...

I think it's time for us crazy cat ladies to come out of the closet! :) I'm totally fine with "crazy cat lady" status. I'm loud, proud and hmmm... covered in cat hair. Where is that pet hair sticky roller? :D

Heather in MN

The Creek Cats said...

Our mom likes to say that CCL does not stand for Crazy Cat Lady, but Caring Cat Lover.

Everycat said...

We are sick of stereotypes all the way. In television drama in the UK it's common for female characters to be shown being bullied by having rough characters hurt their cats or threaten to. Bullying women and cats seems to go way back in history, look at the dark ages, look at how many women and cats were hanged and burned during the witch hunts.

It's all part of the oppression of the female in so many aspects of life. If you can't hit the woman nowadays in law, you can ridicule and isolate her in society or just be cruel to her cats.

Makes us weep that a connection to animals and their welfare is seen as something to deride by the masses - and of course this is encouraged by the media.


We are seriously sick of it.

HISSSSSSSSSSSS!

The Kool~Kittie~Krew said...

If someone labels our mom as a Crazy Cat lady, she says thank you and I love them all! And frankly, we're glad she is, because we have a wonderful home and we get LOTS of love!

Ginger Jasper said...

I am so glad that my mum is a crazy cat lady.. That means I get all the daft love that comes with that.. Hugs GJ x

Glogirly and Katie said...

Well Gloman says I'm a crazy cat.
What does that make Glogirl?

mew,
Katie

Furkidsmom said...

We're glad our Mom is a CCL!! Where would we be if she wasn't???

Sniffie and the Florida Furkids

Confucius Cat said...

A Lady would be crazy not to love cats.

Gracie said...

There is only one here at my place, and that is me. The mom here thinks having one kittie makes you a cat lady too. Bless all of the cat ladies there are. And I bet there are cat gentlemen too.

minekatter said...

I often refer to myself as a cat lady. But all of aren´t like the ladies in the video. I think it´s a great thing that those women, and many other with them, are trying to help those cats. But one have to take care of oneself as well. Cats are better off having humans around them that take care of themselves.