Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind

That sad old folk tune came into my head tonight while reading the story of Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who came unglued when a rival appeared for the love of another astronaut. It's the story few can resist reading. So I clicked on the latest AP update tonight, which included interviews with people involved with the astronaut program.

I had to stop and take a breath after reading some comments from Dr. Jon Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon who lost his wife, astronaut Laurel Clark, in the 2003 Columbia disaster,

"Clark...said there can be extra pressure on NASA's female astronauts - and the men, like himself, who marry them.

"They made more sacrifices than the 'Right Stuff' guys," he said, comparing women astronauts to the original all-male astronaut corps. "They have to balance two careers - to be a mom and wife and an astronaut. ... You don't come home at night, like most of the male astronauts, and have everything ready for you."

It is somewhat astonishing to me that women remain oppressed in this 21st century. After all the consciousness raising we did, and all the glass ceilings that continue to shatter -- at the end of the working day, a woman goes home and runs the household while hubby seldom contributes the same sweat equity as the wife in the day to dat details of child-rearing and sorting out the laundry.

This woman was married with three children and competing and training in one of the most intense career tracks imaginable. The story to me is both ancient and futuristic. It has the overtones of Greek tragedy, with a plot right out of a science fiction romance novel. The need to "have it all" seems to run deep in many women. Lisa wanted the moon and someone else's man. While I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for her, I am saddened by the impulse that drove her to this result.

Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind
She's always controlled, she's always confined
Controlled by her parents until she's a wife
Then a slave to her husband the rest of her life.

All young girls, take warning, take warning from me,
Never place your affections on a young man so free,
They will hug you and kiss you and tell you more lies,
Than the cross-ties on the railroad or the stars in the sky.

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