Jealousy, in crisis

“Do you know how I see that you ate them in threes? Because I ate them in pairs and you wouldn’t complain."

Lazarillo de Tormes

Jealousy is going today through a contradictory status, and its prestige is in full decline. But it is possible that, in the evolution that its public image going through, patriarchy has gotten us the wrong track. For unforeseen reasons, the more we try to escape hateful jealousy, the more we fall back into gamos’ jail. The system has managed to use all of our strength to run towards its trap.

In recent decades, with the normalization of separation in response to marital problems, jealousy has been removed from the morally legitimate emotions. It has gone to the category of pathological emotion because it is assumed that proven infidelity should not lead to the conservation of the couple in an emotional context of jealousy, but to separation. Who is jealous because of an infidelity, and does not separate, is taking and tolerating infidelity, and becomes cause and responsible for her own jealousy. Who is jealous, but has not proven infidelity, lacks legitimacy to transfer it to the couple, is considered as a paranoid, and her/his distorted perception of reality attributed to components of insecurity and possessiveness in her/his deep character. Successful but superficial explanation for most cases of patriarchal violence as a result of jealousy makes this manifestation of them into the wrong reference for the others.

These new mantras of the philosophy of love are extremely rude and flagrantly immoral errors. I will explain why.

Jealousy is, as we see, in a historical impasse. Although it has lost all its past authority by which it could legitimize any action beyond respect to any law, it is also true that the ideology that generated it, and to whom it so effectively served, has only been renovated and adapted to the rise of feminism, without losing any of its oppressive vocation. It has served as scapegoat in the reform of a system that seeks, and largely achieves, to remain substantially intact.

So who would say that, denouncing jealousy, we do an invaluable service to patriarchy? Well that's the case. The evidence (always hidden) is that although the most spectacular manifestations of jealousy are those which degenerate in patriarchal violence, we must understand that they are possible to the extent that the individual can afford to impose the will aroused by his jealousy, which means that it thus gives a false example, for a systematic relationship between jealousy and violence (and not between power and violence, which would be the real lesson, true exegesis of the act) hiding the very manifestation of the bulk of jealousy, of which women are patients.

What we must understand, therefore, is that, historically, the vast majority of the experiences of jealousy (as an emotional complex made of anger, fear and sadness caused by the questioning of the gamic relationship using a sexual relationship external to it) are experienced by women and repressed by patriarchy. It will be that jealousy that patriarchy considers an indication of what falls intolerably outside the norm (the one experienced by men), which will lead to violence against women and become false paradigms.

Jealousy is the emotional reaction of specific indignation to the flow of power held in sexual intercourse, and valued subjectively as unfair. Jealousy is the emotional message saying that an injustice is taking place. So, there is more jealousy where there's injustice, as long as the evaluation of such injustice is sensible. The trend towards unfair perception of fair distribution of power, which is that of the oppressor, generates illegitimate jealousy which, however, becomes visible more easily just because it comes from the empowered individual.

The difference between jealousy and a conventional indignation is that the first falls today under a social condemnation which adds to indignation the repressive component which leads to bad conscience and concealment. If we look back we find that, before being condemned, jealousy functioned the same way as any indignation. No difference between that Pedro Crespo, Mayor of Zalamea, is either father or husband of the insulted Isabel. To kill Don Alvaro is, by enacting Calderón’s moral, the legitimate consequence of indignation, as it would be if he had stolen his land. The bad conscience component disappears, as the social discredit disappears to the point of being so exalted by his action as today is who stops an eviction.

This legitimate jealousy of class, recognized and made visible by spanish XVII century literature, are identical to gender jealousy, neither recognized nor made visible, and never claimed by any literature or culture. When we speak of jealousy, therefore, we add an emotion to an ethical judgement, thus mixing two immiscible things in a way which is useful to patriarchy. The distinction we must demand from gender theory, from the critic to heteronormativity, and, of course, from agamy, is the existence of normatively legitimate master’s jealousy against normatively delegitimized servant’s one. Each of these jealousies plays a role in patriarchy. When it sacrifices the privilege to claim its benefits through jealousy, accompanies the requirement that the oppressed group ceases to denounce their oppression by the same method.

And the deal as things were getting, turns out to be a perfect business.