Monday, July 16, 2007

Jealous astronaut Lisa Nowak a bad example for all women


The article on Lisa Nowak brings to mind a question about why we as a culture would become fascinated with the obsessive behavior of a jealous woman in a fight over a man with another woman. Do we know all the facts? Should we even care? Is this just another stupid pop-ed story about two women fighting over a desirable mate or something more?

As humans, we have always been fascinated with the interaction between male and female, especially when the situation entails jealousy and rivalry. This situation arises not only from the personal issues involved but from the need for economic stability in society supported by marriage and inheritance laws. As with modern society, relationships are driven not only by emotions but by the need for power and economic security. The goddesses like Hera, Juno and Frigg were jealous not only because of their partnerships with the Father gods but because their rivals threatened their positions of power and that of their children.

In societies like early Greece, where marriages were for positioning and heirs while love was restricted to the same sex, they highlighted this aspect. However, history is filled with examples of women married to kings and other men of power whose children lost their inheritance or even their lives when the father lost interest in their mother. This has been the case ever since the inheritance laws changed from matrilineal inheritance to patrilineal inheritance. The stories of the goddesses of marriage reflect this dichotomy.

According to modern American culture a relationship is supposed to be based only in emotion and physical attraction instead of economic necessity for the support and future inheritance of the family. We no longer have guidance for our belief systems other than the popular media. Of course you could argue that the stories of the gods and goddesses were the popular media of their time. I don't agree because I have yet to see it determined that our current popular media serves any interests other than those of the advertising, political and corporate industries.

If you look at the stories of those goddesses of the home and hearth from an emotional standpoint, their behavior may seem bizarre and even threatening. Personally, I would wonder why any man would stand for this kind of behavior in their life partner but there were more reasons for their partnership than physical attraction. We justify it these days with protestations of romantic love. That if a man or women truly loved each other then they would remain partners for the remainder of their life with total fidelity no matter what each of them do.

These were not the lessons that were demonstrated in the stories of Zeus and Hera or Jupiter and Juno. Yes, they were from cultures that drew from each and other and as such had similar experiences. But the human experience at that time in those cultures reflected that marriages and partnerships were founded more on economic realities rather than emotional desires. In spite of their jealous and spiteful attempts to rid themselves of their rivals and their rivals children, both of these goddesses were greatly honored in the cultures that acknowledged them. There were consequences for their behavior but they were still the ones that protected the stability of the hearth and home.

Maybe if we had the stories of the gods and goddesses to help and guide us, we might not focus on what is really a sad story of an efficient and competent women who let her need for a man to complete her drive her to actions that she normally would never contemplate.

Why call Ms. Nowak an efficient and competent woman, in view of the reason why she made headlines? Mainly because institutions like NASA do not normally allow incompetents to operate components of the space shuttle. When she and the other two parties violated a tenet that has served employees of the same company well for years, namely don't date people in the same organization, they did themselves a true disservice. They made themselves laughingstocks. I include the other two parties because I consider the death of dignity a loss for all. Was it necessary for the situation to develop as it did? Probably not.

There were consequences that affected all three of them as well as the rest of society. All women in our society lose when one woman who has succeeded allows her emotions to overcome her leading to the loss of her occupation and possibly the loss of her freedom. Our society is lessened by the ridicule that people who wish to control the image of the sacred feminine will cast on women because of Lisa's actions. However, the person who lost the most was Lisa Nowak. I feel sorrow for her and relief that she still has some friends who will support her through this ordeal she has instigated.

— Arnulfa

Image: Hera, from

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The stories of the gods and goddesses the ancient version of modern media? yes, that makes sense, even from an advertising standpoint. Advertisers sell their products during commercial breaks during programs, but in the ancient myths, they themselves were the commercials, and encouraged people to support the cults (stores) and priesthoods (businessmen) who served the gods (the commodity).

It was portrayed as being beneficial for themselves and for society that they do so, which is the standard advertising pitch.

Zeus and Hera did all right, when you consider their honeymoon lasted three centuries. When the honeymoon was over-it was over.

In Greek mythology, love was guaranteed to no one, and belonged to no one, of any sex. That is the lesson of Aphrodite. The Greeks used her to illustrate how capricious romantic love really was. They saw as a force of nature and an outgrowth of carnal desire.
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