Girls being jealous of girls was the spontaneous topic of conversation for me a few times this week. And by girls, I guess I mean women because the friends I talked to were in their twenties and we weren’t speaking in past tense. Sure, when we were in middle school we huddled with our friends and talked bad about the girls we secretly felt were prettier than we were even though we said they weren’t and who we secretly knew were better athletes than we or smarter or, what it most often came down to, we didn’t like because the boys gave her more attention than they gave us. And I’m saying “us” and “we,” but I was jealous all by myself a lot too.
A few days ago as I was driving down the freeway talking to one of my best friends. We began to confess how we still get jealous of other girls and it is still often for the same reasons. All bad reasons of course, but that’s where jealousy is bred—in unreasonable arguments clouded and confused by insecurity.
Have you ever done this: Facebook stalked the girl who is dating your ex or dating the guy you wish you were dating and come up with all kinds of reasons you are better than she is? By stalking you dig for evidence that you are indeed prettier, funnier, lower maintenance, more adventurous, better educated, more highly organized, creative and that you love Jesus more than she does. Yes, you have found evidence of being holier than the girls you don’t like. You have felt the toxicity of jealousy inside of you and have allowed it to bubble out your pores. That sounds gross, but jealousy is really gross so I don’t know how else to describe it.
There is something about women and jealousy. It comes naturally for us and sticks around for a long time. It reeks heavily in our conversations with other women but we are so accustomed to the smell, we don’t even notice it. Not within ourselves at least, but we sniff it out when it’s coming at us from someone else.
As I drove and chatted with my friend, we discussed the women we’ve felt jealous of recently. They weren’t people we knew well. We basically had to make things up about them to have something to feel jealous about. We were ashamed. How old are we? We asked. But you don’t grow out of jealousy. And you certainly don’t grow out of insecurity. They are ageless, old friends.
We noticed as we were speaking how destructive jealousy is, not only for our hearts and confidence but for our gender as a whole. How can we support each other and be for each other if we just want to be better than each other? If we are all panicky about equal rights and being seen as strong and capable, why are we ripping each other apart? How is this helping us, or anything?
I have long thought about the gender plight. It’s a war my generation didn’t start but was born into and then ordered to take up the cause. Jealousy has always been obvious in this war to me. The jealousy of women toward men. I have felt it and seen its danger, but I don’t know that jealousy of men is as dangerous to women as jealousy of other women is. I don’t know that this is a war with two sides anymore. Or that it ever was. And now more than ever, I feel it’s my job to focus on one side, my own side and learn to love it well. And in order to do this, jealousy must be the first conquer.
(This is a re-post from May 2014)