The Atlantic explains that Cat Person went viral because it connects with the current mood of women & feminism:
Into this steps “Cat Person,” a New Yorker fiction story by Kristen Roupenian that explores how badly people can misread each other, but also how frightening and difficult sexual encounters can be for women, in particular.
The feminist objective is to remove all risks that women face with promiscuity, including the risk of having a dissatisfying sexual experience. This is the meaning behind the new standard of “enthusiastic consent”:
What are we to make of a sexual encounter that is technically consensual, but which Margot still considers to be “the worst life decision” she’s ever made?
In the recent powerful-man purge, and in the rape-on-campus crisis before that, there’s been a reckoning over the true meaning of consent. Some have questioned whether women who get drunk, go to men’s dorms, and even initiate intercourse could later have a genuine claim of sexual assault. Margot was at his house, wasn’t she? To some women, this passage in the story underscored the importance of the “enthusiastic” part of the new “enthusiastic consent” standard.
Not only must the woman’s satisfaction be guaranteed, but she must also be freed from the constraint of considering the needs and feelings of men. The Atlantic quotes the author of Cat Person:
She assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy. It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.
As Rollo observes in Dangerous Times Part 2, the new standard of enthusiastic consent will not just be applied to casual sex, but to sex within marriage as well:
What were witnessing here is the insertion of college campus consent laws into Marriage 2.0, and as designed its intent is to further disrupt marriage and family. Even in the old books presumptions about marriage a man could expect his commitment to a wife and family meant a plenary exchange of sexual access. But when enthusiastic consent is a prerequisite for legitimizing sexual encounters, anything resembling a woman’s putting out duty sex for her husband, even starfish lack luster obligatory sex is defined as rape.
This may sound far fetched, but in a way feminists are just catching up with conservative Christians, who clearly anticipated this feminist desire. For several years conservative Christians have been teaching that a wife’s sexual desire for her husband is a sign from God that her husband is a godly man, and a wife’s lack of sexual desire is God’s punishment for bad husbands. As Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explained back in 2012, a wife’s enthusiastic consent is a sign that her husband is worthy in God’s eyes:
Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized, directed, and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents himself as worthy of her attention and desire.
Pastor Dave Wilson and his wife Ann have been teaching this the same message at FamilyLife since at least 2015. Ann wasn’t attracted to Dave, so she wasn’t giving enthusiastic consent:
And I knew it, too, because our sex was terrible. I was so resentful when he touched me—it didn’t take a crockpot / it took for eternity. I could never, ever get used to Dave’s touch. It was a red signal going off…
Ann finally told Dave how she felt, and Dave realized God was speaking to him through Ann’s [non] burning bush:
Dave: Yes. Here’s all you need to know about that night—the thing that changed our marriage is when Ann was sharing with me what she felt—I had a pretty unique encounter with God. I sensed God was speaking to me, through Ann;
…and the word I heard from God was only one word: “Repent.” I knew, when I heard that word, what it meant—it wasn’t “Repent of being a bad husband,” or “…being gone too much.” It was: “Repent of your relationship with Me,”—God / vertical. See, I had been so busy that my walk with God was sort of on the fly—I wasn’t sitting with Him / I wasn’t studying His Word. I got into His Word—why? So I would have something to preach. I hadn’t been intimate with God in months.