03 April 2009

Let's Say That I Were Jennifer

Stainedheart wrote a fascinating blog on gay relationships at the Rainbow Bloggers Philippines website. He poses a question about whether gay relationships are more difficult than straight relationships. He ended up focusing mostly on when jealousy in a relationship is warranted. I, of course, answered the question and then addressed the question of jealousy second. I want to expand on my answer as a separate blog and talk about the figure of Benicio in the 2006 ABS-CBN teleserye, Sa Piling Mo, in relationship to the question of warranted jealousy and some postulates on its function. Let me first quote, at length my comment to Stainedheart's blog:

I would answer the question yes for a number of reasons. If we look at the long-term part of a relationship after the initial falling in love projections have receded, it is about strengthening intimacy. There is a very long well tested path for straights that has been worked out through myths, fables, fairytales, etc.,. Yet, this is not the case for gays. We haven't got many myths, fables or fairytales. Even in cinema, it is only the very very recent explosion of indie cinema where the conflicts are being worked out.

Intimacy involves trust and honesty. However, these two functions in someone who is gay can be operating at less than optimal levels because of upbringing and discrimination. How can you be honest with your partner if you could never be honest with your mother or father? Not very easy. How can you trust your partner if you could never trust your mother or your father? Not very easy.

These are things many straight people have in common with gays. However, the difference is that there is a long cultural-historical tradition of rituals and rites of passage that attempt to subvert the problems of childhood -- like civil marriage and the many many political, economic and social benefits granted to a couple. The birth of a child also has this effect.

Now, if someone is jealous, the problem to identify is not whether it is warranted or not, since that makes another person responsible for one's own feelings. Rather, the question is what is amplifying my feelings of distrust? (When was the first time I felt this, etc.,) It is likely that the relationship demands a deepening of intimacy and that something in the unconscious is panicked about trusting someone more. This is especially true at the very beginning of the relationship when we are still projecting our fantasy onto the other person and haven't really met them yet. Then, when they act as they are and it does not conform to our fantasy, our less-optimal trust function has evidence that we are being deceived. Yet, as it would turn out, it is our own ego that is deceiving us by not seeing our partner for who they really are.

It is possible that when the fantasies recede there is nothing more for the two. There should be a short while to think about how one entered into the relationship and what it all means. Then, break up. It requires a bit of self-honesty. However, this doesn't always happen. Instead, people suffer themselves and make their partner suffer through a power-complex where the fantasy recedes and then domination and control appear. In my mind, that is a total disaster for love or any two individuals. Jealousy at this point can only be resolved by breaking up and stopping the abuse.

I disagree with the blog insofar as there is a belief that jealousy is ever warranted. If someone has cheated on you and been dishonest, the question should be why did this happen? What is my responsibility in being in a relationship where infidelity and dishonesty were afoot. Jealousy can only be warranted from the perspective of possession and domination.

In Sa Piling Mo, Benecio is the tragic devil figure. He wants Jennifer. Instead of just accepting the possibility that she is not interested in him, he coordinates a series of events manipulating her life to imprison her in his control. However, this is not enough to have her love him. Synchronistically, Adrian reappears in their life as the financee of Benecio's business partner, Nicole. Nicole is Benecio's double because she does the same thing to Adrian -- although the problem is slightly different for Nicole. The tension comes to the first attempted resolution when Jennifer rejects the imprisonment and turns herself into the police. Yet, there is no record of charges against her and so she leaves the prison. Benecio, however, now forges his father's last will to manipulate Jennifer directly into marrying him. In the interim, he has sex with Nicole. She does so, but not because she loves him. They unsuccessfully attempt to have a child for two years -- highly symbolic because of the legitimating of a marriage in Philippine society. But this is not a stable situation, Nicole and Adrian's marriage is a disaster based upon Nicole's manipulations and lies and Jennifer and Benecio's marriage is a disaster based upon Benecio's manipulations and lies. Finally, Adrian rejects the marriage and this destabilizes the entire field since Benecio and Nicole somewhat indirectly had begun to coordinate the separation of Jennifer and Adrian.

Near the end, Benecio everyone turns against Benecio to help Jennifer and Jeremy escape with Adrian. The two hired hands of Benecio are incapacitated by sedative laced coffee by Russell, Benecio's son. The two cousins are distracted by Adrian and Shirley, Jennifer's friend, while Russell has baited Benecio away from the house and Marissa and Norma help Jennifer and Jeremy escape to Jason, Adrian's friend, waiting elsewhere.

They are able to escape except that Benecio again uses the law to prevent them from starting life anew outside the Philippines. Jennifer and Adrian go to Benecio to confront him and ask for his release. He does so, but simultaneously, Benecio's thugs have kidnapped Jeremy and returned him to Benecio. Jennifer and Adrian again go to Benecio and ask now for Jeremy's return and release. Benecio breaks down and finally allows Jeremy to go -- he finally gives up everything that he has control over.

It is in this moment where the power complex, which is wholly autonomy, and fueling his possession of other people as though objects, collapses. It is only in the terrified cries of Jeremy in Benecio's restraining grip, Adrian and Jennifer's son and Benecio's semi-adopted son, that Benecio finally let's go. He is only able to find wholeness when he gives up his attempts and possessing and controlling other people he believes he loves. This is true because: "Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other." C.G. Jung.

Benecio experiences an inability to dissociate from the innocent cries and involuntary, fear based self-urinating of Jeremy while Benecio is physically holding him hostage, that he is able to see the monster that has gotten autonomous in him.

Looking at it from this angle, it is hard to find a justification for jealousy-in-itself. It is a good internal signal for the moment where the movement to deepen intimacy hits up against the old wounds of trust -- or that there is simply, perhaps, a discrepancy between the self-deception needed to perfect a projected fantasy onto another and the other's truth. And, if infidelity and dishonesty do occur, the question returns to, how exactly has one deceived oneself so that such a thing has happened. A pinch of playful jealousy isn't a bad thing, perhaps. But, I do think Jung has it right here: where love rules, there is no will to power and where power predominates, love is lacking!


  1. wow. i've never seen anyone analyze a soap opera before. and to link it with jung? good stuff, man.

  2. so much material. they are like the modern fairytales.

  3. can i have your email address?

    can i invite you to be an author for rainbow bloggers


  4. "How can you be honest with your partner if you could never be honest with your mother or father? Not very easy. How can you trust your partner if you could never trust your mother or your father?" - Funny, coz sometimes I can be more honest to some of my boyfriends at times than to my parents, although I'm close to my mother. I think partners can relate to our problems more than our parents due to several factors.

    On jealosuy. So far, I believe that jealousy is the fault of the person who is jealous. Jealousy is a product of insecurity.

    Nice Jung touch. But, Benecio is not just jealous gurl, he is so sick and twisted, so beyond jealousy... This is obsession.

  5. Yes! That's what makes Benicio such a great figure for jealousy. He is just 100% pure jealousy which is an obsession!

    That parent comment was not very well written and I have gotten some private criticism on it. I had thought how our lack of trust/honesty towards our parents surfaces in those moments of conflict in a relationship -- especially when we are much more open and honest with our partners! its like this devil that pops up seemingly out of nowhere and, in stainedheart's case, animates his jealousy.

  6. here...here...here...

    pwede na itong gamiting reading for a media and gender study class. swear!

  7. I think jealousy arises when there's possesiveness in a person towards another person. Take this away and there's no jealousy anymore.

    Hmmm, does jealousy equates to trust?

  8. i feel distrust and jealousy are very highly related...

  9. i feel sori for nicole when adrian hurts her by saying that hes leaving hur