Toxic masculinity, that is, any overt manifestation of manhood, is apparently a widespread problem. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: men needly merely get a cat.Dr Heather Fraser, senior lecturer in social work at Flinders University, explains:
“Usually you have to work to get a cat’s affections, and because cats are quite fussy [about cleanliness, for example] you have to think about their needs,” says Dr Fraser. (And maybe also accept their independence.)
“Historically, it’s always been that men shouldn’t have to work hard for anyone’s affections — we [women, animals] all just rush to them.”
But the rise of cat men is especially significant, Dr Fraser says, because it’s an “antidote” to the kind of toxic masculinity which, at its most extreme edges, has been linked with mass shootings and violence against women.
Certainly, when it comes to mainstream representations of ‘manliness’, the tenderness and vulnerability a man reveals when he poses with a sleepy kitten, and boasts of its cuteness, is rare.
“I think that’s a beautiful thing,” Dr Fraser says.
“I like to see men defying the narrow straight-jackets of the ‘he-men’ of the past.
“In amongst all this,” she adds, “it’s also fun, it’s good. And it allows boys that are growing up to have better relationships with cats and, by extension, other kinds of creatures.”
Take a look at the photos of male cat owners attached to the article and you’ll see not a single example of masculinity but will see pussies galore.