Historical male dominance behind the “crazy cat lady” label

You can go way back into history and I’m mainly talking about English history to see the origins of the “crazy cat lady”. The images published on this page illustrate what I’m talking about. In the late 1700s (and I’m sure well before that) males were far more dominant towards females than they are now. And they wanted to keep it that way. Men wanted their women to be under the thumb and to do their bidding. Women couldn’t vote in the UK and women could not own property in the UK. Women were in the shadow of men.

What better way to keep women down and subservient to men than to ridicule them by painting them as being obsessed with domestic cats and crazy cat women.

In short it was the way men kept women in check. Men did not want their women to have careers. They wanted women to serve them at home, be a good wife and raise their children. They did not want a woman’s attention wandering away from that objective and detracting from their devotion to the family and making their men happy. If they did it was perceived as detracting from the fabric of society1.

The truth of the matter is that males are still trying to dominate women today and often succeeding through employment conditions and many other ways.

What is interesting to me is that we see an exact replica of this male attitude today in the 21st-century within the Muslim faith. I’m not being politically correct, quite obviously. And I may receive some nasty comments. But I don’t care. The Muslim faith is rooted in the past and I’m talking about hundreds of years ago which is why Muslim women are still very much subservient to men and kept that way because of the culture of the Islamic faith.

It is also why or at least partly why extremist Muslims are terrorists. They are interpreting the Koran in a literal sense. This book was written at a time, almost 1,500 years ago when it was acceptable to kill people if they were kafirs (non-believers). The Muslim faith must drag itself into the 21st Century. It cannot live side-by-side with non-religious people and Christians in the West without friction.

Ref: My thanks to Grace Elliot.

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3 thoughts on “Historical male dominance behind the “crazy cat lady” label”

  1. The term “old maid” really gets to me. Is there any equivalent term for an unmarried older man? I don’t think so.

    • It’s derived from “old maiden” which just meant an older (presumed) virginal woman, but it’s taken on negative connotations (“maiden aunt” is another term and even “spinster” sounds negative). The problem is a much larger one. There are two titles for women “Miss” (the chattel of her father) and “Mrs” who was the chattel of her husband (nowadays we have the additional option of “Ms”). This made a woman’s marital status visible. Men were “master” (when young) and “mister” after the age of majority. It’s the linguistic manifestation of an old assumption that a woman’s main value was as a wife (all a man had to show at that time was that he was heterosexual).

      I’m not really offended by historical terms – times change, culture and language change too. “Old Maids at a Cat’s Funeral” (artist’s name was Pettitt) dates from the 1780s and was based on real cat funerals. There are plenty of accounts of spinsters and widows having funerals for their cats in the 19th century and early 20th century.

  2. The problem is, if you examine the actual news reports behind these images you will find that the individuals really are “cat ladies.” I’ve done a lot of research on cat hoarding in the 19th century and guess what – they were all women. Perhaps it is a nurturing instinct gone wrong, but it’s not a case of men trying to ridicule or belittle women. There really was (and is) a female bias and the women themselves did not do their image any favours.


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