Remember that episode of “Friends” when Ross and Rachel are pulled over for speeding and Rachel uses her feminine charms to get out of a ticket? I’ll never forget the look on Ross’ face when he tries to do the same thing and fails miserably; it was a sad combination of embarrassment, resentment and jealousy. The sitcom version may be funny, but as a social phenomenon, I’m not sure many men find it amusing.
You may be surprised to hear that compared to women, men become jealous more easily. Common societal beliefs have confused the issue of gender jealousy by mixing issues that should be kept separate. Yes, women exaggerate more than men. Yes, they are the monarchs of drama-queendom.
But this doesn’t automatically make them regular play mates of the green monster. The misconception comes from the fact that women hyperbolise their emotions and are more open about them than men, so we actually see them reacting with jealousy. The case with men is trickier; they are less expressive of their internal conflicts and thus, it seems as if nothing is happening under the surface. Wrong!
Studies show it takes less provocation to make a man jealous compared to a woman, and the array of things they get jealous over are vaster than women. Some psychologists have proposed an interesting explanation for this:
“The first love both sexes know comes from a woman—the mother. As a girl grows up, she identifies with the mother and incorporates the idea of becoming one herself. So while the prospect of losing a loved one is traumatic, a woman cannot lose that maternal feeling within herself. A man, though, must always find that love outside himself.”¹
It’s obvious that like women, men get jealous of each other; but to what extent are men jealous of women? Not the woman that is on the arm of his buddy, because in that case he’s not jealous of her; he envies what his friend has. What about the woman herself? I’ve often heard men sarcastically referring to the fact that women enjoy social and career advantages due to their looks.
Some men may feel women (either due to their looks or their feminist claims) get all the ‘freebies’ life has to offer. It surprised me to find many men don’t have as much a problem with feminism in theory, as they do with the fact that it makes them look like the bad guy.
Slang and urban language is a strong indicator of what a society is actually thinking. When we refer to ‘bad guy’ in film or literature, we definitely mean a bad person or a bad boy who is inevitably rescued by a good girl. But when we talk about a ‘bad girl’, it’s a kind of compliment; an indication of toughness, prowess and independence in a female. So perhaps, to some extent, men are justifiably miffed about the unfair word play.
These perceptions aren’t necessarily reality, though they certainly affect reality. One can extrapolate that if certain men feel women are getting off easy simply because they’re women, this could fuel resentment. Added to that, the notion that women now enjoy social leverage in exchange for all those years of overt discrimination may seem unfair to some men.
Are men jealous of the fact that women aren’t expected to be chivalrous? I wonder, how many men actually agree with the whole ‘ladies first’ thing? Under dire circumstances, would men feel frustrated because they are expected to ‘man up’ and save the women and children first?
When a woman pays for the bill, she’s being modern and independent, but when a man doesn’t pay for the same bill, he’s often viewed as stingy. In other words, men are supposed to support women’s equality, but it’s still somewhat taboo to reap benefit from it. I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down inside, these things have developed a new brand of jealousy in men towards women.
— Summer Yasmin
‘No Sex in the City’ is inspired by the popular TV show Sex and the City, and is a voice representing Desi romance and culture in all its complexities!
¹Eugene Schoenfeld, author of Taming the Green-Eyed Monster