Confused Cats Against Feminism has gone viral, as the Internet kids say.
In less than a week, my humble Tumblr blog has picked up more than 12,000 followers on Tumblr and has generated nearly 20,000 “notes.” It’s been featured in two dozen well-known publications so far, ranging from Jezebel to Cosmopolitan to Le Monde (yes, the Le Monde), and on who knows how many lesser-known sites. It was discussed on The Reid Report on MSNBC. And my assorted inboxes are swelling with literally hundreds of submissions.
So why — other than KITTIES — has the blog struck such a chord?
I wrote out some thoughts on the blog’s origin and its appeal for a Huffington Post writer; unfortunately she got them too late to use in her piece, so I thought I’d share a slightly reworked version of them here:
Obviously, the main inspiration for the blog was frustration with the Women Against Feminism page, and the media coverage of it that seemed to suggest that a couple dozen women holding up antifeminist signs meant that feminism was dead, or at least in crisis. This seemed to me a silly conclusion to draw, especially considering that most of the siigns weren’t so much a reaction to feminism itself as to a caricature of it.
But this is rather typical. I deal with antifeminists — most of them men — every day on We Hunted the Mammoth, and it’s kind of amazing how few of them know even the slightest bit about what feminism really is. They’re battling the feminist bogeywoman in their own heads.
In a way, they’re like anti-Semites whose supposed knowledge about Jewish people comes from reading “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a phony document concocted not by any actual Elders of Zion (there are no such people) but by other anti-Semites.
Anyway, what really crystallized it for me was reading this post by Jenny Lawson on the Blogess, a hilarious little rant about the ridiculousness of the Women Against Feminism signs, in which she imagined putting up her own blog with people holding baffling signs like “I don’t need air because LOTS OF IT IS FARTS. I’M NOT BREATHING FARTS. YOU BREATHE FARTS.”
And then something clicked. There was probably a cat sitting on me at the time, so naturally I thought of doing a blog involving cats. To be honest, though, I’ll use any excuse to post pictures of cats.
So why are so many people connecting with this blog in such a big way? Obviously, people on the internet love cats, and posting pictures of them.
But more seriously, I think the blog has tapped into the frustration that feminists feel, not only because of the straw-feminist-bashing women of the Women Against Feminism blog, but from years of arguing with Men’s Rights Activists and other antifeminists who seem to be everywhere online (they’re not actually an enormous group, just a loud one), and who stubbornly refuse to learn even the most basic facts about feminism as it really exists in the world.
There’s no point in actually arguing with these guys (and gals), because they’re living in their own world, which overlaps only slightly with the real world. Mocking them with cat pics seems more appropriate than trying to convince them, say, that women in America really do deserve the right to vote even though they’re not required to fill out a meaningless form with Selective Service registering them for a military draft that is about as likely to return as Ham and Bananas Hollandaise or Tuna and Jell-o Pie.
Men’s Rights Activists — and all the other assholes of their ilk — want to be taken seriously. But they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. What they deserve is laughter.
Men’s rights activists have a quote that’s supposedly from Gandhi that they like to recite constantly: ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. As they see it, they’ve gotten to the point where people are fighting them. I’d like to knock them back to the point where people are laughing at them.
And with the help of hundreds of feminists and their kitties, not to mention you all here, I think that’s just what we’re doing.
So here are some links to the media coverage of Confused Cats Against Feminism so far. I’ve marked the longer articles with asterisks; those with two asterisks include quotes from me.
Huffington Post* (UK)
Huffington Post *(US)
Marie Claire (AUS)
Foreign language coverage:
Le Monde (France)
Corriere della Sera (Italy)
With the exception of the piece on The Hollywood Gossip, which is a bit confused about the Confused Cats, all this coverage has been glowingly positive. The only negative media mention I’ve found comes in a National Review piece about Women Against Feminism. Frankly, I’d be a bit alarmed if the National Review were to have anything but a negative reaction to the blog.