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They told you to slap him if you had to; they told you to get out of the car and start wailing if you had to.They told you to do whatever it took to stop him from using your body in any way you didn’t want, and under no circumstances to go down without a fight.But, like the recent story “Cat Person”—about a soulless and disappointing hookup between two people who mostly knew each other through texts—the account has proved deeply resonant and meaningful to a great number of young women, who have responded in large numbers on social media, saying that it is frighteningly and infuriatingly similar to crushing experiences of their own.
What led her to believe that this time would be different?
* * *I was a teenager in the late 1970s, long past the great awakening (sexual intercourse began in 1963, which was plenty of time for me), but as far away from Girl Power as World War I was from the Tet Offensive.
In fact, the bitterly disappointed girl crying in a taxi muttering, “They’re all the same,” was almost a trope.
Make a few changes to Grace’s story and it would fit right into the narrative of those books and magazines, which would have dissected what happened to her in a pitiless way.
The great girl-shaping institutions, significantly the magazines and advice books and novels that I devoured, were decades away from being handed over to actual girls and young women to write and edit, and they were still filled with the cautionary advice and moralistic codes of the ’50s.