Folk Beliefs
general

Cooties in New York

Context:

Madeleine Hall was raised in New York City. In a hyper urban city like that, I wondered if she had any experiences with cooties. For me, cooties were associated with playgrounds and fields and wide open spaces–my memories being children chasing each other around.

Transcript:

Owen: Do you have any memories of cooties as a kid in New York?

Madeleine: Oh yeah. I’m so bad with ages, but yeah when I was really young you always knew who had cooties. It was like a thing, like he had it or she had it. But being a girl we mostly knew which guys had it.

Interpretation: 

Basically, this speaks to the ubiquity of cooties in American children’s culture. It speaks to how children are hyper aware of gender at a very young age. At schools, children are quickly split up by gender, explaining how the idea of cooties could take hold. For those unaware, cooties are a gendered “disease” of sort that boys can catch from girls, and vice versa. Of course, there are no actual medical symptoms.

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