Self-Silencing: Hermeneutical Injustice & Kristen Roupenian’s ‘Cat Person’


  • Clare Maunder Trinity College Dublin


Contemporary Literary Criticism, Cat Person, Viral Short Stories, Kristen Roupenian, Sexual Consent, Epistemic Injustice, Feminist Epistemology, Gendered Narratives


Miranda Fricker’s 2007 theory of epistemic injustice describes an exclusion or silencing of particular identities that prevents them from full participation in the world as ‘knowers’. These identities are denied full human status. Hermeneutical injustice, one of its strains, pinpoints a difficulty in comprehending one’s own experiences when robbed of an adequate conceptual basis. An insidious form of silencing, it goes easily unnoticed. Kristen Roupenian’s 2017 short story ‘Cat Person’ deals with widely acknowledged millennial concerns, including an encounter of “bad” sex, where Margot, I argue, is hermeneutically silenced. Its 2017 publication situates the narrative within the resurgence of the Me Too movement, while its widespread public reaction frames the story as a point of interest in ‘real life’ instances of hermeneutical injustice. Both ‘Cat Person’ the text, and its reactions, therefore outline the negative conceptual space which suffocates the potentiality for an identity to be an identity due to the unavailability of adequate terminology to navigate lived experiences.



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