Please Do Not Meow At Me So, Sir

Do not adjust your computer monitors, dear readers. I know you were expecting a post from the delightful Kate this morning, but today she’s occupied being not only A Very Important Businesswoman (her actual title), but also The Perfect Bridesmaid. I generously offered to take over today’s post, in light of this development. Or, you know, I begged and pleaded because – surprise! – I have something to rant about discuss.

You see, yesterday I was meowed at.

Not by, as one would expect, a cat. This sound effect came from a grown man. Unfortunately, he wasn’t doing his best Aristocats impression or training his feline for a cat agility competition. He was using it to make me shut up. The exchange went, thusly:

Man (Also known as my younger brother, Paul the Fratboy, who was over at my house watching Center Stage, an acknowledged cinematic masterpiece): Dude, I can’t believe you’re watching this movie. This is so gay.

Me: Um. No, it’s not. Does this movie think other movies of the same gender are attractive? Oh wait, or were you calling the men in the movie that, just because they’re dancers? Yeah, that makes sense. Everyone who puts on tights must like boys. Just look at Mikhail Baryshnikov or Gene Kelly. Oh, wait…

Man: I’m just saying, it’s stupid.

Me: Well, that’s not what you said.

Man: Meow!

That was the meow. It was not a placid I’m imitating a submissive cat noise. It was the sound a cat makes when you’ve just stepped on its tail or introduced it to a chihuahua. It was the sound meant to tell me I was being a ridiculous woman. I was meowed at, because my brother didn’t like what I was saying. I was meowed at, because I dared argue my point in a vehement manner. My taking issue with something offensive is, in fact, me just being catty.

I wish this were limited to twenty-year old frat boys. It’s not. My brother learned this behavior from my father, a man who proudly cries at human interest news stories and who has always believed I could rule the world. And yet…I’ve been meowed at in this same manner, when arguing with my normally enlightened father. Worse still, I know this isn’t just our family. Women are meowed at all the time. It even happens to powerful female politicians in Australia, during official government discourse. (If this has never happened to you, because you live in a paradise of common courtesy, click that second link to see an example.)

This is a thing, y’all. When women are angry or in the middle of an argument, apparently it’s okay to compare us to pissed-off housecats. Even the word “catty” is used mainly for women. While it means slyly spiteful and has no gendered language in the official definition, it’s still considered a woman thing. Think about it. Even if a man is talking smack about someone, exhibiting sly spite in all its glory, he would be called judgmental or an asshat, but never catty. When men get angry, it can’t be so easily demeaned with an animal noise. A man-to-man argument will never end with a meow.

What the hell? Where did this even come from? It’s not like we bark at men, when they do something stupid like chase their tails or watch Jackass marathons.Why have we tolerated this notion that an enraged woman is nothing so much as a pissy, hissing feline, easily swatted away or placated with tuna?

If my opinion doesn’t match yours, that’s fine. Let’s have a discussion about it. Hell, yell at me, if you must. But when I yell back just as loudly, let’s set a rule, shall we? There will be no more damned meowing. I do not want canned fish. I want my voice heard.

- Grace

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31 thoughts on “Please Do Not Meow At Me So, Sir

  1. Frat Boys! An ilk on equal dubious footing as hipsters. Not cool, Man. Not cool.

    Incidentally, when I was 22 I was the manager of the electronics department for a department store. My two choices for the display TVs and VCRs were (Department Store Name)TV and The Aristocats. I ended up watching the later roughly four times a day, and grew to quite enjoy it. Nice choice for your pic, for multiple reasons.

    • Too true, Brian! Don’t even get me started on The Hipsters. We’re overrun with their breed here in Austin. Poor Mae has to hear me complain about them and their ironic moustaches, every time we go to a concert. ;)

      I think you made a wise decision opting for The Aristocats. Sure, “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” may be annoying on the 3rd listen, but on the 30th? Much better. (Spoken from not a former department store manager, but instead an occasional caretaker of a much younger sister. There was a time in 2006, when I thought that song would never leave my head!)

  2. it’s the same thing with the male/female animal names. “Oh, you dog, you!” vs. “What a bitch!”, stallion vs… what… mare? I had a guy call me a ‘filly’ once, we are no longer together. “you’re bullheaded” (not nice, but not insulting, really), vs “you stupid cow”.
    ridiculous that this actually happened to a politician during a government meeting! And then they were clearly tryign to brush it off as ‘oh, that’s nothing, don’t worry your purty little head over such things, let’s get back to the man-business of politics’. BAH!.

    • Lexy, I hadn’t even thought about the dichotomy between male & female animal-related colloquialisms. You have such a good point! How can a dog have potentially positive connotations, while bitch has solely negative ones? It’s downright ridiculous. Thanks for pointing it out!

      Also, can we please discuss how awful the reaction was by Australian politicians? That this happened not once, but at least twice, and was so blithely treated is absolutely appalling. I have hope that in America we wouldn’t countenance such behavior at that office level, but I fear that’s a bit naive.

      • I stumbled upon this blog at random (because I was meowed at lol, but it was intended to be flirtatious rather than insulting); anyway, I realize that this is a dead post, but I felt compelled to chime in… As far as asserting that only women are given derogatory animal names, what about calling men pigs? Rarely, if ever, are women called “pigs” unless they’re overweight, but in that case the same insult applies equally to men. The way “pig” is used with men is entirely sexist and implies that they’re trashy, vulgar, and rude.

        Also, calling men dogs is hardly a compliment compared to “bitch”. They both have inherently negative and insulting connotations. Maybe I missed the point on that one, but is sounded as if Lexy was saying that “dog” isn’t used defamatorily the way that “bitch” is, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

        Bottom line: is there disrespect and sexism against women? Absolutely. As a female engineer, I have personal experience with that, which has only been made worse by the fact that I’m considered attractive and therefore seen as even less competent (truly not trying to sound vain!! It’s just frustrating for me). However, to imply that only women are subjected to this kind of sexism is so egregiously inaccurate and unfair that I couldn’t let it go…

        Men are expected and pressured to be strong, stoic, powerful, decisive, and all things characteristically masculine, and if they fall short of those qualities, they’re ridiculed by both both men AND women for being “pansies” and “beta”. The feminist movement has given women more and more rights, which is awesome, but it’s not even remotely equal when you consider that only men are required to register for things like Selective Service. Women want all of the same rights as men with none of the equality. I find it irritating when women complain about men as though all men are “dogs”. It’s because of MEN that you even have the right to post this blog… they’re the ones who fight and die to ensure that you still have the freedom to trash them. When you do something that exhibits that kind of selflessness and honor, then feel free to talk about how wrong men are.

        I apologize if I’ve ruffled any feathers, but commentary like this really gets under my skin. Let’s please not pretend that only women are subjected to sexism, because that pendulum definitely swings both ways, as demonstrated by this blog.

  3. I am still looking for the wood to knock on, but I’ve never been meowed at “KNOCK ON WOOD.” I’ve heard the sound made in reference to a heated-argument-later-turned-bloody-fight two women were having and I laughed. GUILTY!

    I’ve also seen it used as the background effect for shows such as Bridezillas or other reality shows where two women are fighting. The sound was so clutch and I laughed to my heart’s content.

    I’ve also heard the “Caw” when someone says something that’s just outright MEAN. Hilar.

    But I’ll tell you what’s not funny: having that done to you as a respected elected official. Even in your scenario, the meow was truly unwarranted because it wasn’t really a “fight.” I don’t know the ettiquette of meowing, but I can tell you when its funny and when its not, and your bro’s meow was just plain unnecessary.

    • Anne, you’re very right to draw a line between the uses of this – with humorous intent versus a derogatory one. Not going to lie, I’m a little sensitive about it, even with humor, but I at least understand that one more. What’s funny on Bridezillas has no place in official business though, you’re exactly right. I can’t even imagine how they got away with it!

  4. The “Meow” was definitely used, in this instance, to shut you up. Also, I’m reminded of TV’s Home Improvement and Tim Allens stand-up act (like, 20 years ago) where he grunts like an ape whenever alluding to male interest in tools and fixing things. And there is some dog-howling among men, but it’s usually almost a compliment.

    • Spectra, when I was writing this, I kept thinking of the ape noises that can be associated with men, but forgot where they originated from. Thank you so much for bringing up the Tim Allen bits. It was driving me crazy! Isn’t it funny, though, how the animal comparisons to men can almost involve bragging? I love how connotations of very similar language can be so disparate.

  5. Being a rather loud person I get told to be quiet or shut up (usually said when I’m right, btw) which I respond with a vehement “I will not” and get louder. I think the “Meow” not only is in that same vein of trying to box-in a gender, but in a derogatory manner as well. I’m intrigued by the reciprocity of dog barking at men who are being loud, but I’m afraid that conversation would devolve rapidly.

  6. Ahaha!! I have never been meowed at, honestly, but I don’t exactly I live in a paradise of common courtesy. Perhaps a neutral nation of common courtesy.

    And what’s so bad about cats anyway? Step on a lion’s tail, madden a baboon, or hold a hamster and I’ll bet you’ll get a reaction out of them far worse than a mere cuddly house cat. Men are so limited in their insults. If you’re going to insult me, do it properly. And there are much better animals from which to form insults than cats.

    • You have such great points, wandering kind! Really, why couldn’t we get a more ferocious animal for our insulting comparisons? Perhaps it’s the very ineffectiveness of a house cat that provides the insult. I know I’d much rather be a lion, indeed. Also, call me jealous that you live in even a neutral nation of common courtesy! If only this were unheard of here…

  7. Hear hear! I think I’m going to try letting out a derogatory “woof” in future when men start mouthing off.
    Love your choice of a pix from the Aristocats too :>

    • Thanks so much, lady! I’m so glad you like our writing! No worries. Though I’ve never meowed at someone, I have been known to do other things that I’ve railed against at other times.

  8. I’m sorry to seem extremely sexist here, but whenever I a woman and I get into an argument, I’m just like, “here we go again”… I find when I argue with men it tends to turn into degenerate, unintelligent, Neanderthalish rabble rabble with an ironic twist of logic. When I argue with a woman, I just want to cover my ears and not even try because I feel its sooooooo pointless. It seems to sound extremely nagging as if my mother is harping on me about how I failed to take out the garbage before the truck came in the morning. It usually seems to be an examination of MY faults rather than hers and then she starts to bring “emotions” into play. I try to use logic but it doesn’t work. I just throw my hands up and I don’t want to hear it again.

    It doesn’t help the fact that women tend to hold onto arguments longer than men. After 10 minutes I’ve already forgotten about the damn thing and I’m thinking about the sports game that’s going to happen later that day or what I’m going to have dinner. After 10 minutes, she’s still stewing about it and went off onto a tangent about an unrelated incident where I was also supposedly in the wrong.

    I know not all women are like this, but I haven’t found one who isn’t. Never called a woman catty or meowed at someone but I have closed my ears and stuck my tongue out like a 3 year old because the argument was so inane and stupid.

  9. Hilarious! Excellent point. Maybe women should adopt a universal animal noise for annoying frat boy types. I nominate the bray of a constipated jackass.

  10. I’m a guy, and I seriously cannot wrap my head around the logic that “meow” would shut anybody up.

    I prefer “tssssht!” myself, but that’s probably because of the Dog Whisperer.

  11. I am indignant on your behalf. And on the behalf of that Australian lady. I passionately hate stuff like that but even more passionately hate how if you respond to it in any kind of manner, you are being uppity and over-sensitive. Hate hate hate.

  12. Amen! Women being deemed “catty” just because they’re outspoken is ridiculous.

    Although I would be careful with the generic “frat boy” comment as well. I’ve known quite a few good men that happened to be in fraternities (as well as some really impressive women who were in sororities). Just some food for thought.

  13. Pingback: WTF Alert | Chez Gathou

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