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Female jealousy?

(58 Posts)
loveyoulikeaplanet Thu 14-Apr-16 22:04:57

In RL and in SO many threads on MN this is offered up as an explanation for women behaving badly in their interactions with other women.

A woman at work/a friend/ someone at the school gate does X ...
or made this insensitive or plain horrible remark.

Response - she's obviously jealous of you.

Can someone please explain this to me?. I don't 'get it' at all yet hear it all the time and see it on MN and other forums all the time.

Do lots of women really think this is the reason why another woman is behaving badly or simply being mean?.

This has been bugging me for ages but I haven't turned it into a thread before now. It's come into the forefront of my mind today as work with a woman who is below me in the work hierarchy (I don't give a shit about hierarchy btw) who is often rude to me and after excusing it for a while, I said something to colleagues who have clearly noticed it too and said 'I think she's probably jealous of you'.

Jealous of what? That I have a different job ? Am I supposed to believe that my position/life is what she wants and she's bitter because I have it and she doesn't?.

I think that's bollocks and she might just be a bit moody or doesn't like me for whatever reason she is entitled to hold.

I NEVER hear this said about men or by men about other men. If a man has been put down or brushed aside or criticised by another man the reason is never suggested to be jealousy.

Forums like MN are often ideologically feminist in lots of ways but this idea of female jealousy seems to be so ingrained it comes up time and time again as an immediate response on lots of threads.

mmmminx Thu 14-Apr-16 22:08:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VestalVirgin Thu 14-Apr-16 22:15:24

Strangely, this "That person is mean to you because they want the position you have" seems much more like a male thing than a female thing to me.

It is mostly men who feel entitled to everything, and get bitter about not having it.

However, I don't think many (or any) women are rude because of jealousy. I myself certainly never am, and I have more reason to be jealous than most, as my situation in life is a really shitty one.

After all, being rude doesn't get you the desired position, it only makes people think you're rude. (Unless maybe you are dealing with men, who see rudeness as a marker of dominance ... but that sort of game is nothing I would ever be able to play).

If you had gotten a promotion she wanted, then that would be different, but if you just happened to go to university and she didn't, or somesuch thing, I think it is more likely that she just doesn't like you, for whatever reason.

"She's just jealous" is probably just a way or trying to make you feel better about yourself, because it implies that you are great and she is not.

Ludways Thu 14-Apr-16 22:20:56

It is sexist to associate jealousy as a female trait and also to dismiss bad behaviour so mildly, it is also sexist to assume a woman would accept such a shallow excuse for someone behaving badly towards them, like they should be flattered. It's awful and minimising.

loveyoulikeaplanet Thu 14-Apr-16 22:39:00

Vestal ' she's just jealous' is not a way to make me feel better about myself as you can see from my OP. I'm not sure you read the OP thoroughly.

I made it very clear I think it's bollocks and am bewildered why anyone - male or female would suggest that jealously is why someone would be rude. That is the point of my OP.

I don't really care if someone doesn't like me because I know who I am and how I behave. I'm polite and kind and treat colleagues and people in general with respect.

That doesn't mean that some people can't find me annoying or just don' t like me or whatever. That's entirely valid. Some people might think I'm an absolute knob - that's their perogative.

What I do take exception to is other people reducing that opinion the idea that a woman with a negative view of another woman must be jealous.

And it happens all the time.

MrsBoDuke Thu 14-Apr-16 22:48:05

I get what you mean.

On any thread where someone disagrees with something it's because they're jealous.
Like women have such a narrow spectrum of emotions and feelings that it can't be anything other than hormones, having a bad day, or jealousy.

Lots of people irritate the hell out of me, for a variety of reasons and I'm sure I irritate lots of people myself. I am not a jealous person and have never coveted anyone else's life, but I know that my irritation will have been put down to 'jealousy' many times.

It's just a lazy and unimaginative descriptor tbh.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Thu 14-Apr-16 22:49:00

I was bullied in my 4th year at secondary school by a group of girls. They were the thick ones who were set to leave the moment they could with no qualifications to to dead end jobs. I was the very pretty , very clever teacher's pet.

We had a mutual dislike and contempt for each other. They thought I was a stuck up snob; I thought they were stupid and unattractive. And jealous of me.

loveyoulikeaplanet Fri 15-Apr-16 00:08:22

Mrs - exactly. I think this thread has been misinterpreted. I KNOW it is sexist to say that jealousy is the reason given for women criticising women but it is so often reduced to that.

I'm saying it's bollocks and as you so perfectly described 'women being considered to have a narrow spectrum of emotions'. And yes its sexist to suggest that - that's the point of the thread and wondering why so many perpetuate it. Seeming a little naive I hoped someone who try to explain or challenge the idea. It happens so much in RL and repeatedly on MN.

But the ingrained view was proved so clearly on this thread in feminism chat by a poster who can't have read the OP properly and concluded 'saying she's jealous (a quote I said was nothing to do with me) is a way of making you feel better about yourself'.

So on a thread complaining of women competing against each other but acknowledging how often if happens - the OP was misinterpreted as a woman having a go at another woman to make themselves feel better about themselves. I.e being jealous in some way?

Oh dear. If you can't raise this in MN feminism with an OP stating you think it's bollocks without someone thinking 'you're saying you're great and think she's not' then I have no idea where to discuss the sexist idea that women are jealous of each other or trying to put each other down to make themselves feel better.


PinkIndustry Fri 15-Apr-16 00:35:32

I understand what you are saying and it is sexist, particularly as, when it is used in relation to women, it is used to suggest that women are jealous over things which are perceived as important but over which the individual has no real control - such as beauty, status/class, intelligence (as in the examples Lass outlined). Ironically, these arbitrary 'qualities' are the very ones which women are generally most admired for by society so putting women down as being 'jealous' over these important yet uncontrollable qualities is to emphasise (and even gloat over) women's general lack of power and control over their own lives and in society as a whole.

By contrast, men are not usually thought to be jealous of other men's handsomeness, class status or intelligence. Male jealousy is more associated with possessions and, in particular, possession of women and is, therefore, something over which they have a degree of control. However, when men are unable to acquire the possessions they desire and their jealousy comes to the fore, they are not derided or belittled for it at all. In this context male jealousy is seen as a strength which will help them gain the possessions they want and it is even used to excuse male violence.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 15-Apr-16 09:14:43

What would you prefer OP?

Jealousy seemed to fit the situation I had to deal with. Or maybe they were just stupid, vindictive, unpleasant, overweight bullies. Actually they were that as well.

I assumed at the time bullying me made them feel better about their inadequacies. I certainly didn't see it as a compliment to me but it seemed a reasonable explanation for their behaviour. They had little going for them, picking on me was something they could do.

MrNoseybonk Fri 15-Apr-16 09:39:35

I NEVER hear this said about men or by men about other men.

I do. All the time.

MrNoseybonk Fri 15-Apr-16 09:45:09

Even in relation to looks or lifestyle. All the time.
e.g why do people take the piss out of me for going to the gym, trying to get healthy or look better. A: They're just jealous.
Really, it's a common response among men.

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Fri 15-Apr-16 09:51:50

loveyoulikeaplanet I think Vestal did get your point.

The way I read her comment anyway, I think she was offering up a possible reason why some women do say that. Not that she agreed with the reason for them saying it.

autumnleaves123 Fri 15-Apr-16 15:21:51

I think there is a wide range of emotions assigned to women by default, without much thought, like hysterics, neuroses, jealousy, envy... And that is not right when we really come to think about it. It seems that women are completely defined by the emotions, the "psychological set up" that lets show its head at the first opportunity.

When a man behaves badly, or does something mean, he's "just an idiot", especially in work contexts, but we don't tend to define them with a wide range of subtle emotions or psychological terms.

Whereas a man "gets angry", which to some extent gives validity to his emotions, a woman is "hysterical/unhinged" in the same situation, which might not warrant justification. Even when we define men by emotion, the way we do it doesn't really imply a psychological issue.

I think we just have to be more careful how we use our language, especially when referring to other women, if we don't want false beliefs and gender stereotypes to spread around. I think both men and women are sometimes to blame for such sweeping, thoughtless comments.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 15-Apr-16 17:53:51

To be honest I do not intend to waste my time analysing what motivated the girls who bullied me. They weren't worth it then and they aren't now.

Grimarse Fri 15-Apr-16 18:17:57

When a man behaves badly, or does something mean, he's "just an idiot", especially in work contexts, but we don't tend to define them with a wide range of subtle emotions or psychological terms.

I beg to differ. Men are known as angry arseholes (as a trait, not an instance), or bullies, or wimps, cowards, idiots. We have even coined phrases for some traits - e.g. small-man syndrome for someone with an inferiority complex. We make a differentiation - sometimes these are single actions, out of character. But sometimes they are traits - 'that narky gobshite in the postroom' etc. Men get this crap too, even though you might not hear it.

candykane25 Fri 15-Apr-16 18:23:20

I can't explain it OP.
This is the only time I feel jealous - when I admire a nice top a friend is wearing and she says £3 sale rail! I'm jealous of her uncanny bargain sourcing powers. For about 10 seconds.

I think some people do feel jealousy more often, I have X friend who openly admits to feeling jealous about other peoples status items. So they assume other people feel jealous - they perhaps project their own jealousy.

If you are not a jealous person, it doesn't make sense as a motive.

I think it's possible to just not like people and even resent people for irrational reasons but it's not necessarily jealousy.

SquirrelStandoff Fri 15-Apr-16 19:09:18

I think jealousy as an explanation for bad behaviour is not so much a woman thing as a structural inequality thing. Because women are more frequently frustrated in their ambitions by low class social status than men are, they are more likely to become bitter and resentful about others who appear to have a free pass than men are too. It is the same with social class - people in the top 1% describe the resentment and bitterness expressed by those thwarted by structural inequality as 'just' jealousy (whether male or female) too iyswim. In the bullying at school anecdote above there is a definite social class element going on.

VestalVirgin Fri 15-Apr-16 19:32:54

*loveyoulikeaplanet I think Vestal did get your point.

The way I read her comment anyway, I think she was offering up a possible reason why some women do say that. Not that she agreed with the reason for them saying it.*

You are right, and I can now think of an alternative explanation as to why this woman at work doesn't like her ...

PinkIndustry Fri 15-Apr-16 19:37:06

Yes, of course "men get this crap too" - meaning they are derided for having or not having certain qualities, that's the point: the way we deride people is gendered. And we are analysing what that gendering implies about how society may view that gender or be biased against that gender or discriminate against that gender.

So you may hear all those other insults about men, but the OP's point is that you won'r hear this particular slur (that of attributing unpleasant behaviour to jealousy of looks or status) to men, only to women. When men are accused of jealousy it is not because they have spoken meanly or rudely to another man but , instead, when they have been aggressive or even violent to another man. If you analyse that further, I think it also reveals that society judges 'female' and 'male' jealousy quite differently.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 15-Apr-16 20:09:22

OP you have completely misinterpreted what Vestal said.

Pink the girls I mentioned were aggressive and, one occasion, violent. They seemed to be deeply resentful of me.

Squirrel said "bitter and resentful about others who appear to have a free pass". Spot on. It's not really up to you to decide if I was being sexist in thinking their behaviour was motivated by jealousy or spite.

SquirrelStandoff Fri 15-Apr-16 21:32:19

Perhaps there is a lazy fallback stereotype about women being jealous to explain a range of behaviours- I might tune it out. Men's behaviour is often seen as banter, competitiveness or ego.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 15-Apr-16 21:33:35

Sorry Squirrel I meant to say it's not up to the OP to decide if I was being sexist.

SquirrelStandoff Fri 15-Apr-16 21:35:03

No worriessmile

donajimena Fri 15-Apr-16 21:46:42

I think by saying someone is jealous is lazy as a pp said.
For example my niece who is quite an acerbic character was being bullied by other girls. My SIL told her they were just 'jealous because she was so pretty ' hmm
lets take aside the bullying which is wrong, there was no dialogue such as 'what happened' or what should we do but just a dismissive 'oh ignore it because they are just jealous' very lazy explanation/resolution.
The only time in my life that I can possibly say that I have ever felt the emotion that I perceive to be jealously is romantically.
When I was cheated on I felt an absolute rage towards the OW and feelings of inadequacy on my part. Fortunately I never voiced these and they passed.
I simply cannot imagine that someone having a better house/car/job would invoke such horrible feelings in me.

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