November 11, 1999
Cat on a Hot Tin Stereotype
Get yourself one little cat and you walk into a whole kitty-litter box full of stereotypes. If you live alone with a cat, or worse, two or three, and you might as well be Miss Havisham from "Great Expectations." Why not just throw in some lovingly placed sachets of potpourri and a few cutesy picture frames and man-proof the place entirely?
For the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with having cats. In fact, I've started pining for one like crazy, and it's because of my new feline-fetish that I've had to seriously question whether I want to willingly take on such an unpleasant stereotype, one that's sure to be interpreted in ways that don't suit me.
As a Jewish woman I think I'm especially sensitive to being a cliché. All of my life I've grimaced when people assumed my dad was a doctor, lawyer or professor. I love being the daughter of an auto mechanic, raised in the inner city and working class to the bone. I love the way one piece of information shocks people into reassessing their understanding of my culture. I love being a female sports fan. I get a little thrill when I'm the only woman in the movie line for some testosterone flick. I relish being the opposite of what people expect.
A manager once suggested that I get a nose job. No way, I thought. I couldn't live with admitting that to people. I would be sticking my newly patrician nose smack dab into people's perceptions of what being a young Jewish woman is all about.