Cat Person and Consent

Kristen Roupenian’s new short story, “Cat Person,” is a fascinating story of relationship that manages to capture (among other things) the complexities of consent. Why we agree to what we agree to is such a fraught and often overdetermined question — it is not as simple as arming ourselves with the facts and making a rational choice.

Also intriguing for the ADR reader is the way in which Roupenian describes the role of empathy in relationship, specifically how empathetic capacity and imagination can sometimes work at cross-purposes to actual understanding (for example, cultivating relationships over social media requires empathy but this empathetic effort can create a false sense of intimacy). I read the story this past weekend and have been thinking about it ever since; the New York Times today reports that it has gone viral.