Why is a Man With a Cat a Negative Thing – The Rise of Toxic Masculinity
You might be thinking this is the weirdest title of an article on a blog that you’ve seen… maybe ever. I know, I thought it was slightly weird too but it connects back to a much bigger topic I want to write about, which is toxic masculinity.
You’d be surprised to know that a lot of people hunt around online for the search term “man with a cat” and I can tell you that it’s men searching because they’re worried that if they get a cat they’ll be seen in a negative light by women (or others, in general). You can test this out for yourself as to how many topics come up that are related to that specific search phrase.
What I found to be the most intriguing is that one of the first links that came up on my search was an article on CNN with the title, Want to attract women? Keep your cat out of your dating profile.
The first part of this article (and the study it links to) says, “We have cat-astrophic news for animal lovers: Men who like cats are less likely to get a date. That’s the takeaway from a study by Colorado State University, which found that women are less likely to swipe right — or say yes — to men if they’re posing with a cat in a picture.”
Photo credit: CNN
“Men holding cats were viewed as less masculine; more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable,” the authors wrote.
Damn. That seems pretty harsh.
This got me thinking about some things that go deeper (and are bigger) as to why this would be the case, and maybe I didn’t get the memo, but when did loving animals become a bad thing? And why are people focusing on cats as the animal that a man “shouldn’t” have?
It got me thinking about how our society has become so toxic that statements like these are being made openly.
How did we get here?
I don’t think this is fair at all, and I want to state that men should be able to be who we are and not let these crazy societal negative beliefs impact us, but I know that’s easier said than done. I want to share that having a cat (if you’re the “man with a cat”) is NOT a bad thing! It never has been, and never will be. This is just a negative belief structure that does a lot of harm to all of us.
Toxic masculinity is a topic that has been on the rise for quite a while now. When we look at studies like the above that show that men are less likely to get dates because they are a “man with a cat,” it demonstrates, at least to me, that we have some severe issues that root a lot deeper and are worthy of a conversation.
Verywell Mind has a great definition of toxic masculinity:
“Toxic masculinity involves cultural pressures for men to behave in a certain way. And it’s likely this affects all boys and men in some fashion. Toxic masculinity refers to the notion that some people’s idea of ‘manliness’ perpetuates domination, homophobia, and aggression. This idea that men need to act tough and avoid showing all emotions can be harmful to their mental health and can have serious consequences for society, which is how it became known as ‘toxic masculinity.“
This is the deeper (and bigger) point I wanted to make. Men suffer from mental health issues, too. The constant struggle to seem all tough, act as if one is without emotion, or hide their authentic selves and their love of cats can weigh exceptionally heavily on those who don’t care about any of these things. That is the toxic masculinity (not healthy masculinity), and it’s bullshit.
This shows that “being tough,” having emotions, or wanting to have a cat (maybe lots of them) is somehow negative. Shit… this topic certainly got serious pretty fast, didn’t it?! The “man with a cat” negative spin can make men who don’t care about being tough, who are fine with showing emotions, or love cats, spiral into negative thinking about who they really are and can cause them mental harm.
The societal requirements that are put on genders/people have a negative impact globally. Poor mental health and the lack of authenticity is killer for a society that should be evolving.
This toxic masculinity has a more significant impact on this society than I think many have thought about. Hell, I didn’t really think about this until I got into research around this “man with a cat” concept and went down this rabbit hole. As we all know by now, having poor mental health affects the person and everyone that person is around, too.
This negative mental cycle is consistently generated around things that, I think, shouldn’t matter. How do people still think that men “shouldn’t” have cats, shouldn’t be more creative or romantic but rather be a “tough guy,” and that men shouldn’t show emotions?
It seems that we’ve become a society that pushes men to behave a certain way, thus creating toxic masculinity. Of course, I am not discounting that there are MANY pressures on women. It’s just I am realizing more and more that it seems we talk less about the harsh “masculine” pressures on men, and I feel it is an important topic to touch on.
Another study in 2007 found, “… the more men that conformed to masculine norms, the more likely they were to engage in risky behaviors, such as heavy drinking, using tobacco, and avoiding vegetables. In addition, they were more likely to view such risky choices as being ‘normal.’” (Study can be found here.)
WHY ARE WE GLORIFYING BAD HABITS?
To sum things up, a “man with a cat” is seen as something quite negative according to the study linked above, and men that have cats are judged (without any substance) to be less masculine; more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable.
This judgment and harsh reality creates toxic masculinity energy and encourages unhealthy behaviors. Toxic masculinity has discouraged men from getting the mental health treatment they require, so they “just deal with it” longer, causing many long-term issues, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse issues. This is because “mental health problems” may be viewed as weaknesses somehow and make them less desirable.
That feels pretty shitty because I don’t want to see anyone suffering for no reason. I talk a lot about self-care and taking care of one’s mental health in my book, so this is a topic I feel passionate about. Here’s another article about self-care that may be of interest.
This negative mindset causing inauthentic behavior and toxic belief structures has caused many men not to reach out to get the self-care and mental health help that they should be getting (and deserve). Instead, we seem to have created a world where people are encouraged to “just deal and seem normal” rather than doing what is best for their health, bodies, minds, and spirits.
I would like to see that change and it starts by talking about it more openly and more often.
What do you think about this topic of toxic masculinity?
Are you a “man with a cat” that could give no fucks? If so, KUDOS to you, please comment on how you may have dealt with any negativity you received; I’d love to hear.
I’ve had plenty of cats in my lifetime and I don’t feel any less a man for it. I explore cats and other ways of finding success, even during the shittiest of times in my book here!