Cooties in New York


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.


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.


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.