Jealousy and . . . Violence?

by RunSilent RunDeep

We have all probably heard of people who have gotten violent, or who have threatened violence, when they have discovered that their

Can't we just share the herd?

Can’t we just share the herd?

“significant other” has been in contact with someone who is not monogamous. Being reasonable and compersive people people, we have probably said to ourselves, “What in the world could possibly be up with that???”

Here is what might be up with that.
Remember the stories set in America’s Old West? In that setting, one of the worst things a man could be was “a [cattle] rustler.” The only thing that could be worse was to be “a horse thief.”
Remember the stories set in the Old South — stories of duels, of violent feuds, of offended honor that could only be healed with bloodshed?
Trust me — those stories are probably connected to the partner who has just gotten in your face.
The web site, Art of Manliness, has been running a series of articles by Brett and Kate McKay about “Manly Honor.” The subject needs a series of articles because the phrase, “manly honor,” is applied to different sets of male behavior in different settings.
In their introduction to their article on “Manly Honor in the American South in the 19th Century,” the McKays note:

While honor in the North evolved during the 19th century away from the ideals of primal honor and towards a private, personal quality synonymous with “integrity,” the South held onto the tenets of traditional honor for a much longer period of time.

Unlike the Northern code of honor, which emphasized emotional restraint, moral piety, and economic success, the Southern honor code in many ways paralleled the medieval honor code of Europe — combining the reflexive, violent honor of primitive man with the public virtue and chivalry of knights.

The code of honor for Southern men required having: 1) a reputation for honesty and integrity, 2) a reputation for martial courage and strength, 3) self-sufficiency and “mastery,” defined as patriarchal dominion over a household of dependents (wife/children/slaves), and 4) a willingness to use violence to defend any perceived slight to his reputation as a man of integrity, strength, and courage, as well as any threats to his independence and kin. Just as in medieval times, “might made right” in the American South. If a man could physically dominate or kill someone who accused him of dishonesty, that man maintained his reputation as a man of integrity (even if the accusations were in fact true).

The McKays go on to report that anthropologists and sociologists ascribe this, in large part, to the cultural backgrounds of the Northern and Southern populations. Most settlers in the northern U.S. came from regions in England where people were farmers. However, most settlers in the southern U.S. came from regions such as Scotland and Ireland, where the soil was too poor for farming and where people were herders — of sheep, cattle, or pigs. Readers who know their Celtic mythology will remember that many of the legendary Celtic heroes fought either while raiding to steal others’ pigs or while defending their own pigs.
Farmers are not likely to develop a fierce sense of honorable violence. Land cannot be stolen in a raid. When the raiders depart, the land remains in place. But herders?  When those raiders depart, the livestock is likely to be … gone.
If the monogamous partner of your friend possesses this “code of honor,” then that partner may view you as a potential rustler … as a potential “horse thief:” as a threat to that partner’s honor. Your very presence may heighten their fear that you are about to raid their “herd,” their household. And that partner may feel that the best way to prevent the loss is to flare up — to get very heated — and to tell you very strongly to “stay away from my herd.” (so to speak)
How you deal with this situation … will depend on the specifics of the situation. But this may, perhaps, help you see why you got confronted, what the person fears, and why they might think they are doing the right thing here.