June 13, 2007

What does it really mean to say "You're just jealous"?

Anita Creamer has some thoughts.
"You're just jealous" is one of the time-honored ways that the underminers among us like to cut bright women down to size when they raise reasonable criticisms of other women.

It's always shallow and dismissive. And it's often idiotic....

At heart, "You're just jealous" is also generally quite sexist, a fact that even seems to escape the women who think they're being insightful and original by leveling the jealousy charge at other women....

Still, "You're just jealous" serves a real purpose: to let women know they're not being taken seriously, ditzy little things that we are.
Well, I enjoyed reading that since I get the "you're just jealous" attack practically any time I criticize a woman. Of course, jealousy is a very common human emotion, and there are probably threads of jealousy -- along with innumerable other emotions -- woven through all of our opinions. But the problem is the way it's used when a woman criticizes a woman. It minimizes both women -- not only the woman who's accused of jealousy but also the woman on the receiving end, because she ends up looking like a fragile flower in need of a male protector.

People need to know that when you say "you're just jealous" to a woman who's criticizing a woman, you are saying "what I notice about your opinion is that you are a woman saying it." If you want to say that, go ahead, but if that's your style, you better think hard about whether you are a sexist. And a damn lazy one too because.... what a cliché.

44 comments:

Luckyoldson said...

is anybody here jealous of fen and pogo's relationship?

Mortimer Brezny said...

I don't think it is a sexist comment, but it is an infantilizing one. And I notice that it is women who use the insult toward both men and women.

So, it is a woman's insult, but not necessarily an insult to women.

rhhardin said...

It's meant to be a put-down, albeit in a woman's way.

A guy would say something about your blood sugar level being low.

James Thurber attributed men joining the Navy to the hard, cold way one woman looks another up and down in judging what she's wearing, and its absence of all humanity.

I don't think the jealousy insult works by comparing a woman to the male standard as suggested, but by comparison to a competent woman's standard of womanly thinking.

Meade said...

"What does it really mean to say "You're just jealous"?"

The not-necessarily-sexist insult is in the word "just."

Joe said...

I agree its a juvenile and disrespectful thing to say, but I've never associated "You're just jealous" with women in particular.

ricpic said...

Can't the "You're just jealous" gambit be countered immediately and effectively by smashing the ball back into server's court with a "Jealous of what exactly, dear girl?"
Infantilize her by making her name it.

Pogo said...

The male attorney who said this notwithstanding, do real men actually say, you're just jealous?
I always that was more of a woman-to-woman put-down.

No, more of a girl-girl put-down, with peak use about high school, if I remember my 5 sisters correctly.

Bissage said...

(1) “It minimizes both women . . .

A small point, but it’s more accurate to say it has the potential to minimize. Not every arrow hits the bull's eye. Sticks and stones and all that.

(2) The use of the word “just” in that way is an invitation to comedy and nothing more. Want to see me laugh out loud? Put me in a room where a lawyer says, “It’s just, just, . . ., unfair, your honor!” Ha!

(3) Closely related to (2): No such thing as multiple causation in that universe, right? I had a torts professor who referred to that kind of blinkered thinking as “Dan Rather causation.” No, really!

(4) Closely related to (3): I love the preposterous presumptiveness of a person telling someone else why he or she said something. Thanks for the psychoanalytic insight doctor, I’ll be sure to see the receptionist on the way out.

(5) Closely related to all the above: There is no number 5.

Bissage said...

"The not-necessarily-sexist insult is in the word 'just.'"

Great minds think alike!

Hey, Meade! Any chance you're the Racer X to my Speed Racer?

("White roses, Mom's favorite!")

Ha!

Bissage said...

[R]icpic, here's an all-purpose one to keep close at hand: "Why do you say that?"

It works best with a facial expression of exaggerated, quizzical earnestness.

Use it wisely.

Heh.

Meade said...

Bissage said...
[R]icpic, here's an all-purpose one to keep close at hand: "Why do you say that?"

I was thinking along the same lines... using the same expression of exaggerated, quizzical earnestness... two words: "I am?"

Curtiss said...

I agree. The word "just" is key. I've said:

"Are you jealous?"
"You're jealous."
"I'm jealous."
"Don't be so jealous."

I don't think I've ever said "You're just jealous". Why would I? It seems to me that it has a meaning that a man would rarely want to convey. Perhaps it was a line that Roy Black deliberately used, because he views it as a woman's insult.

Freeman Hunt said...

What does it really mean to say "You're just jealous"?

It means "I don't have an argument for the issue at hand, so instead I assert that you're arguing in bad faith."

AJD said...

People need to know that when you say "you're just jealous" to a woman who's criticizing a woman, you are saying "what I notice about your opinion is that you are a woman saying it."

No. You are saying "you're just jealous." Perhaps all that you, Ms. A-House, are hearing is that tripe about gender.

But guess what, Ms. A-House? Women can also be jealous.

So even though you apparently would like to construct a way to deflect as sexist virtually any criticsm against you, it is apparent that you have just engaged in the kind of lame, circular thinking that you would pounch on third wave feminist for.

How uninteresting!

Freeman Hunt said...

And it's definitely sexist--especially the way it was used in a certain dust-up involving this blog.

Can you imagine someone arguing a political issue with a man that way? "You're just jealous of Joe because he's young and handsome and studly." I think not.

Freeman Hunt said...

Women can also be jealous.

But what difference does that make? That's not an argument. Say someone is both jealous of me and has a legitimate argument against something I've said. My saying, "You're just jealous," wouldn't address the actual issue. Focusing on jealousy is a distraction.

(And in any case, as regards the dust-up with this blog, I find it very hard to believe that any jealousy was involved whatsoever.)

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, I think a lot of the people who accuse me of being jealous are jealous of me (for being a tenured law professor). But it's just too stupid to come back with, no, you're jealous.

Seven Machos said...

Is it really sexist? I'm a male. People tell me I am jealous, too. I don't think this is a feminist issue. I think it's a class issue.

Ann Althouse said...

In my case, I'm continually told that I'm jealous of women for being younger (which is also ageist). I'm also informed that these women are terribly good looking, which is more of a question of fact, one that I see no profit in disputing, and which makes an incoherent match up with the assertions that it's wrong to judge women by the way they look.

Maxine Weiss said...

Oh ok, so if I say I don't like Althouse's hair and I think it's too short, that means I'm jealous of her hair?

Ok, whatever.

bearing said...

I'm still trying to contort my face into an expression of quizzical earnestness.

When I manage that, I'll work on exaggerating it.

Wade Garrett said...

Guys will stop using that expression if women agree never to think "he's just being macho" or "he's just another man who can't love" or "its just guys being too competitive" or "he's just driving that car to compensate for a small penis" or "men are pigs" ever again.

Do we have a deal?

TMink said...

Perhaps the male equivalent is saying that a man has a Napoleonic complex or is compensating from some other shortcoming. If you know what I mean.

It is meant to totally deflate and deny what the other person is saying by insulting them and their motivations. And it also assumes a superior position and attitude on the part of the insulter.

Trey

Bissage said...

[B]earing, I thought maybe I could save you some time by responding with a funny picture of Michael Bluth making that sort of face (I’m such an Arrested Development whore -- shame on me!), but alas and alack, I couldn’t find anything good enough on the inner tubes.

Still, I found this and this, and where I come from, that’s called FUNNY!!!

(Okay, I stole that line from the “Lion in Winter,” sort of.)

Bissage said...

Second photo.

(Last attempt.)

Ha!

Taylor said...

Great faces, but what's a LUT-- a sweet looking blonde?

Saying “You’re just jealous” couldn't be more juvenile. Haven’t heard it from adult women, myself, but my circles may be limited. Wouldn’t the people most likely to say such a thing be the type who succumb to jealousy and project their perspective?

I know a few men and women who are prone to envy and feel bad for them, but they’re too smart to let it surface in humiliating ways. Could there be anything worse than wanting what another person possesses or has attained? It’s such a zero-sum mentality and personal hell, really, because there will always be someone with more or better than what you think you have. It’s competitiveness gone cancerous.

We’ve all seen people who boast about their looks, money, IQ, family history, neighbors, writing or professional ability, blah blah blah, because they’re snobby and insecure or aggressive and needy. Lucky me has the luxury of either staying far away from the really mean ones, or of rolling my eyes (why bother one-upping them?) behind cheap sunglasses with the others, when they talk about having been debutantes (a forty-something year-old friend last weekend feeling a bit insecure) or how important or rich their fathers/husbands/ancestors are or allude to belonging to the symphony or horse set (that one’s painful), play up their positions, achievements and portfolios, pronounce who’s smart or acceptable or not and with lots of literary droppings to impress, and call those *unwashed ignorant and uncouth hicks*, “rednecks.” Embarrassing.

Ann, though, with her more public persona, has to suffer- in writing- these kind of people’s oversized fragile egos and pathetic rejoinders when they feel challenged or deprived on account of another’s attribute or accomplishment. I’d say Courage!, but Rather thoroughly ruined that one.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do have a male friend who says that. But I would suggest that he has smoked pot for too many years, and that seems (IMHO) to have a feminizing effect on men.

The problem is that it doesn't really work with most men. My comeback is typically that he is avoiding answering my point.

Seven Machos said...

Smoking too much pot has a feminizing effect on men? That theory I want to hear more about.

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm so jealous of Althouse's short hair. That's why all the young girls are chopping off their hair ala Althouse---because they're jealous of her oh-so-sexy hairdo.

Seven Machos said...

I am a little bummed about Althouse's new 'do. Few women after a certain age can pull off longer hair. She is one of the few who can. She should.

It would make many people jealous.

Ann Althouse said...

I mainly cut my hair like this to get it off my neck for the summer. It does grow back you know.

dave™© said...

I get the "you're just jealous" attack practically any time I criticize a woman.

Actually, "you're just a bitter old misogynist working on her second box of wine" would be more accurate.

But whatever...

Thers said...

Seeing as last night you staggered over to my place to screech that I'm "jealous" of you, this post is really pretty funny.

You're going to get into trouble on this AutoAdmit thing, you know. I'd recommend you take a more conciliatory and apologetic tone towards Jill at Feministe. If you want to push it your archives do not support your position.

You'll probably get stubborn and dig in with a hyperliteral defense, but I'm telling you, it's not worth it. You look pretty bad already.

mythusmage said...

First Woman: You're just jealous.

Second Woman: Of what?

Galvanized said...

This article perfectly describes it. I tried to think of a counter criticism with men, what men accuse a man of being whenever he is critical of another man, but I couldn't come up with anything other than the fact that he is simply ignored or laughed off. With women, it IS said that one is jealous as though women are inherently in competition with each other for recognition from others, while men are more those who can bestow recognition or value. And to hurl the insult at a woman who is recognizing another or denouncing her is to say that a woman has no place in bestowing recognition or value. It's a way of putting a woman in her place for giving an assessment rather than consenting to be assessed.

dave™© said...

Seeing as last night you staggered over to my place to screech that I'm "jealous" of you, this post is really pretty funny.

Cue Blithering Misogynist Idiot sputtering "it was a joke!" in 4... 3... 2...

Ann Althouse said...

Well, at least our dave recognizes satire. Our resident stalker, on the other hand, is back to being creepy again... and jealous.

Oligonicella said...

I haven't heard it all that much used as an actual attack, but more typically by a friend (or friendly sort) responding to an overstatement by the first party. But, that's the crowd I hang with.

As to the pot thing. A lot of my life has been spent hanging with the martial arts crowd. Many smoke. No, it does not effeminate. However, sitting around on your ass, all day every day, will. So it certainly can contribute.

rsb said...

I guess I'm "just jealous" of The Red Hat Ladies.

Grumpy Goofball said...

It's an infantile remark, for sure, and it drives down to perception and appearance in its usage.

Which is why, as a gay man, I hear it often. Any serious constructive criticism is often met by this thoughtful and incisive retort.

Icepick said...

Isn't this a mis-usage of the word "jealous"? Shouldn't the phrase more typically be "You're just envious"? I mean, if used correctly.

TMink said...

OK, I was going to post a comment on the testosterone and pot research based on my memory. But I decided to google it instead. (Insert memory loss joke here.)

What I found was quite interesting! The original study (1974) suggesting that heavy marijuana use lowered testosterone was methodologically flawed. Big time.

First, they administered the THC (one of several dozen psychoactive components in marijuana) orally and in massive doses. How massive? Confimred pot heads who were paid to participate in the study dropped out rather than subject themselves to the debilitating dosing. These were pot heads hoping to get paid to get high, over half left the study. So the dosing was way too high and nobody uses the drug by taking THC pills.

In 1991, (Dr. Robert Block in Drug and Alcohol Dependence 28: 121-8) a study found no affect on testosterone or leutenizing hormone among users of marijuana.

I also found that the testosterone myth was still widely published and used as part of drug "education" wesites and programs. None of them cited the 1974 study, and certainly not the 1991 refutation. They just passed the information as if it were fact. Along with pot raising women's testosterone and making them hairy.

Trey

Thers said...

If you want to call me a "stalker," you should at least be sober when you post in my comments section.

Ann Althouse said...

Thers, you are a tone-deaf reader. You're actually a literature teacher or something, aren't you? Weird to pursue a field where you have such a glaring disability. I guess it explains a lot.... about why you're so damned jealous of me.