I’ve been struggling with what to say about her. In many of the stories about her, she is jealous and vindictive. How many times did she try and kill Hercules?
She is the protector of women, but not those slutty ones who get assaulted by her husband or piss her off. The perfect patriarchal wife.
As the wife of an abusive womanizer she gives us a clear understanding of how wives should keep their place. Hera is always taking her anger at Zeus out on the women he has assaulted and their children.
This is one of the ways the patriarchy uses women to keep other women in their place. If we are busy fighting with each other we won't be able to do anything about the patriarchy.
It also helps us learn that men don't need to take responsibility for their actions. It promotes rape culture and victim blaming.
Hera herself is one of Zeus's victims. She only agrees to marry him out of shame after he tricks her and takes advantage of her. She becomes part of his cycle of abuse.
Does her story sound familiar? It should. The stories of women being bound to the men that abuse them. Then helping in continuing that abuse is completely normal. It's hard to see the cycle as anything but normal. It makes it harder to break.
There is no healing in this story. Even a powerful goddess like Hera is powerless to resist the patriarchal order. Or so they want you to believe. The patriarchy couldn't have Hera standing in her own power or showing other victims how to do the same. Better to have her teaching women to be ashamed and fear punishment for the actions of men.
Hera's story is a cautionary tale of what happens when we don't support each other and heal. We become part of the patriarchy's continued abuse. Hera's caring nature was used against her. That caring nature becomes a weakness, a danger and something to be avoided at all costs. This is part of what the patriarchy does to women and men. It finds ways to twist our strengths. It lies and tells us that these strengths are flaws.
Her story is a reminder that no matter who we are or how strong we are or whatever, anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. It's not because we are weak or deserve it. Her story is our story. It's the story of what happens when we support what oppresses us.
She is waiting for us to see her and hear her #MeToo.