There’s all this controversy about people donning blackface for Halloween. Some are going as Trayvon Martin, some as characters from Orange is the New Black, and some as just generic minstrels — the last at a Milan fashion show, apparently. As troubling as this trend is, I’d like to talk about an even more egregious problem: people donning catface.
It’s a worse problem for several obvious reasons. Cats have no voice. There are no cat bloggers to rage on about how “abusive” it is that humans are putting on catface for halloween. No one takes to Twitter to denounce catface. No one calls their friends on it. No one seems to care at all.
There is a popular musical which is still running, where the entire all-human cast is made up in catface, and no one has ever once considered using a real cat. Nor have we, as a society, evolved to the point where we can see that this speciesist caricature is deeply hurtful to feline-kind. It portrays cats in only the most hackneyed, stereotypical and degrading ways — yowling in the streets and being overly-dramatic.
In addition to catface being a shameful misappropriation of feline culture, it takes away the identity of cats. We’ve fetishized them to the point that their very bodies are merely another object for us to enjoy without thought. Not a single thought to how it might affect them. No consideration of their autonomy, no respect for their rich and ancient culture.
Cats are treated badly as a result of these despicable attitudes which are perpetuated by catface. Each year, millions of cats are abandoned in the streets, poisoned, or even captured and sterilized before being re-released to a life of crime in a harsh urban environment. We can’t blame them for their irresponsible reproduction habits or their inability to make a living for themselves without turning to theft. It’s our society that’s broken, not them. We should work to understand the historical issues surrounding the plight of cats, and the harm that is done by our position of privilege in the animal kingdom.
Catface has no place in civilized society. It is just not decent to mock a species we have so unjustly enslaved for millennia to please us with their purring ways. If you see someone in catface, speak out. No cat should endure such hate. Tell them it’s not acceptable on Halloween, or any other day. Do not let extreme speciesism be tolerated as commonplace.