Why are women encouraged to see jealousy?

(37 Posts)
astonafar Sun 06-Jun-21 14:46:13

Again and again, on MN with any situations involving friends, lots of women will suggest a friend is behaving a certain way because they are jealous. Especially if the OP mentions they are young and slim, it is always they are just jealous.
In reality, situations are usually more complex and the OP may be playing a part in what is happening. But jealousy is always the number one reason seized on.
Why is this?

OP’s posts: |
PurpleDaisies Sun 06-Jun-21 14:48:18

I don’t know but it pisses me off as well.

astonafar Sun 06-Jun-21 14:51:59

It plays into the stereotype of all women as jealous bitches waiting to pull other women down.

OP’s posts: |
Seafog Sun 06-Jun-21 14:52:29

I don't know, but it goes hand in hand with bitterness, as soon as someone mentions that 'x looks happy with this or that' someone comes along and says , ' yes, but it is likely all lies, they are hiding how it really is'.
Someone posts a happy couple picture, Mumsnet replies, they must not really be happy, or they wouldn't let it show, they are just doing it to seem happy or make you jealous.

So weird, and annoying!

Iamthewombat Sun 06-Jun-21 14:52:46

To undermine the opposing argument, and to discredit the person advancing it, usually..

In the 1980s, when Clare Short MP started her campaign against page three, the argument most commonly used against her was that she was “jealous”. The Sun called her ‘Crazy Clare’, and said that she was jealous of the page three girls because she was, according to them fat and old.

What other motivation could she possibly have had?

AnneLovesGilbert Sun 06-Jun-21 14:56:30

You’re so right Seafog. When people admit they actually are jealous they’re usually told not to bother as their slim, funny, successful, happily married friend with healthy lovely children is probably an alcoholic with an eating disorder, crippling anxiety and an abusive husband. As if that would be better than someone just being as happy as she seems.

Really weird.

Ah actually, maybe so many people jump to jealousy is that’s how they feel?

CardinalLolzy Sun 06-Jun-21 16:24:08

Ha, op, I nearly started a thread saying exactly this! It baffles me. Certainly I can see behaviours where jealousy might be a factor but I thought not liking something or having any criticism of something automatically meaning "you're ^just jealous^" was left behind in year 9 of school.

As with anything that seems a disproportionately common reaction on mumsnet (but is usually only a handful of actual posters) , I suspect there's a lot of projection going on.

Not much to add but did want to post to acknowledge I've noticed it too and find it weird!


SomewhereInAnotherLife Sun 06-Jun-21 16:39:48

@AnneLovesGilbert use, this bothers me too! It does nobody any favours. Just as there are some people who struggle with life, there will be others who sail through. I have a lovely friend who I often think about when these threads come up. She’s beautiful, married to a good looking, wealthy man who would do anything for his her. She lives in a gorgeous house with her lovely kids and DH, has amazing holidays and loves her life as a SAHM. Her life isn’t all plain sailing of course - nobody’s is - but her existence is pretty charmed. If I wrote about her on MN, posters would no doubt suggest her husband is a secret gambler/sex addict/whatever and she takes drugs to cope. hmm Why?

LibertyMole Sun 06-Jun-21 18:12:13

I get a bit confused between jealous and envious, but I think they are both strong motivating factors in most bad behaviour.

Men are far more prone to jealousy than women, but very many people of both sexes are prone to envy.

NotTerfNorCis Sun 06-Jun-21 18:23:20

I think it's to make someone feel better. 'They might be saying nasty things but those things aren't true, they're actually jealous because you're better than them.'

LibertyMole Sun 06-Jun-21 19:12:01

People often massively underestimate what a threat jealous men are, as it is linked to control.

I do think women should be more aware of what a strong motivating emotion jealousy is, but it isn’t usually women who are excessively jealous.

astonafar Sun 06-Jun-21 19:17:10

@LibertyMole I might feel a bit envious of someone's good fortune, but I rarely feel jealous. And it does not mean I am then horrible to the person. I think behaviour caused by jealousy is rare after childhood.

OP’s posts: |
LibertyMole Sun 06-Jun-21 19:21:46

Most DV involves jealousy and control.

Jealousy is when you feel something or someone is your private property and you don’t want anything to threaten that. Like Gollum and the ring.

Envy is when you want something someone else wants.

Women should be looking out for jealousy in new partners, because it is so common in men, and dangerous.

EdgeOfACoin Sun 06-Jun-21 21:06:26

Aren't men usually described as 'competitive' which is seen to be good to a certain extent?

Women are described more easily as 'jealous'.

LibertyMole Sun 06-Jun-21 21:14:51

Probably coin. Because men are seen as active agents and women as objects.

Especially if a woman is young and attractive. She is something that men can own - like a trophy wife. So people, but usually men, are jealous of her because they don’t see her as a person, but as a thing to consume.

NiceGerbil Mon 07-Jun-21 02:30:12

I first noticed this when I was at school.

In whatever situation it was the go to reaction from lots of girls I knew was oh she's just jealous.

So I think they must have learnt it at home.

I assume it's to make the child feel better about someone not liking them etc.

But what it actually does is removes any opportunity for consideration etc.

It's weird but it's everywhere so it must be a really common thing that maybe mothers tell their daughters...?

NiceGerbil Mon 07-Jun-21 02:31:15

Of course the media/ men love pushing this line as well.

It's flattering to them to think that all women and girls care about is how good looking/ popular they are.

Siameasy Mon 07-Jun-21 10:48:09

A capitalist, sexist culture where women compete for men. Which benefits men even though they are the ones who should actually be competing for us
We have turned nature on its head. Look at birds. The female is plain which aids camouflage because she is more valuable from an evolutionary perspective. The male bird chases the female who is normally disinterested grin

RosaBudDrood Mon 07-Jun-21 10:50:03

Funny that you were on that thread though trying to tear a women down over her choices of outfit, yet here you are on this board now ...

hamstersarse Mon 07-Jun-21 10:55:27

Jealousy does drive some behaviour though. I get your point about it being thrown out for all sorts of random situations, but I think it is an emotion that is under-estimated in it's impact.

Jealousy happens when we see something we want, or have something we want so much we don't want to lose it.

I might see my neighbours new fancy car and get a pang of jealousy (unlikely but you never know!), I might see my boyfriend laughing and joking with a woman and get a pang of jealousy.

What I am unsure of is whether the general emotional illiteracy in our culture means that people do not know how to handle feelings of jealousy. So when we see an extraordinarily beautiful woman, are we all really able to say that there is no jealously involved (especially if we are feeling fat and old)? And more importantly, are we sure that that jealousy doesn't seep out into our behaviours and attitudes?

I am not sure people are that in touch with what jealousy feels like and how to ensure that it is not acted out on

deydododatdodontdeydo Mon 07-Jun-21 10:59:25

It's something women say to each other to reassure them. Like a PP, I remember girls at school saying it too.

antsy Mon 07-Jun-21 11:57:21


I first noticed this when I was at school.

In whatever situation it was the go to reaction from lots of girls I knew was oh she's just jealous.

So I think they must have learnt it at home.

I assume it's to make the child feel better about someone not liking them etc.

But what it actually does is removes any opportunity for consideration etc.

It's weird but it's everywhere so it must be a really common thing that maybe mothers tell their daughters...?

Yes, that is a good point. And it is damaging because it stops those individuals from considering if their behaviour played a part.

antsy Mon 07-Jun-21 12:08:47

@hamstersarse I feel envious. I try not to let it show. We are struggling financially and I do feel envious when for example my friends last night were talking about buying a holiday cottage.
But I really try hard not to let it affect my behaviour. Because I value my friends and family. What good does it do if I also lose a friend over my envy because I am having a hard time?
I deal with envy by talking to DP about it. I actually do not envy my friend who has more money but works incredibly long hours. I did envy my friend who is buying a holiday cottage because of an inheritance from a relative she did not like and avoided seeing. I think it is the sheer luck of it I envy. But that is life. Some people are lucky and some are unlucky and most a bit of both.

MedusasBadHairDay Mon 07-Jun-21 12:17:13

I think there's an element where women are encouraged to compete and be jealous of each other. I know men are also encouraged to be competitive, but it seems like it's in a different way - without the jealousy. I guess part of it is that women tend to have less space/resources to fight over, while men can relax (largely) as they already have more and therefore more of them can come out on top.

MedusasBadHairDay Mon 07-Jun-21 12:21:14

I think there's also this weird competitiveness between generations that the patriarchy encourages (while we're fighting each other, we're not fighting them)

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