Beyond Empire, Patriarchy & Theocracy: Women March in Iran & US

In a recent DM we heard from David Korten* that “our forebears made a choice for the dominator relations of Empire” which included patriarchal sexism among other shadow elements. 

Protests continue across Iran against the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody for a loose hijab. Iran’s President has warned protesters they will be dealt with “decisively.” Channel 4 News

On the streets of Iran today women (and many men) are protesting the “morality police” who arrested and then apparently murdered 22 year old Mahsa Amini for the crime of not wearing her hajib appropriately. 

We see many women burning their hijabs and/or cutting their hair in public rituals defying the government and its theocratic leadership.  More than 35 people have been killed, hundreds more injured or arrested and access to the internet and cellular service severely curtailed. 

The government is threatening to bring the military into the streets to ward off still more protests.  One popular chant among those protesting is: “Women, Life, Freedom!”

“This is why young voters are mobilized.” MSNBC‘s Jason Johnson interviews experts on Arizona’s near-total abortion ban.

Meanwhile, back in America, there are parallel goings-on with many states passing laws that politicians have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies—how 10 year old children, if raped, must bring the rapists’ fetus to term; how neither incest nor rape are a reason for aborting a fetus; and that some god-given pronouncement (not found anywhere in the Bible by the way) allows politicians to tell pregnant women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

These pronouncements echo loudly the “dominator relations of Empire” and the “self-destruction” and sexism that comes with it per the analysis of Korten.

It also rings of a strong theocratic bias that is rushing into American culture especially by way of the now supremely compromised Supreme Court.  Chief John Roberts recently expressed surprise that fewer and fewer Americans give his court any credence. 

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell interviews Clarence Thomas biographer Jane Mayer on judicial conflicts of interest created by Ginni Thomas’ texts before the 1/6/21 insurrection. The January 6 committee interviews Mrs. Thomas this week. MSNBC

Yet his court denuded the voter rights act; opened the door to billions of secret and dark dollars to fuel elections; has three members chosen by right wing ideologues appointed by the mastermind of the January 6th insurrection; features a sitting judge whose wife urged the overthrow of a legitimate election; and overthrew a 49 year old law that protected women’s rights to choose what to do with their bodies, invoking two witch-burning judges of the 17th century in doing so. 

All of these six judges were chosen by a theocratic Opus Dei operative within the Federalist Society. 

Regarding these parallel scenes in Iran and America, theocracies included, let us not forget the upcoming November election. A recent poll found 90% of Americans feel rape and incest victims should be able to get abortions.** It seems that theocracy has trumped democracy in America.


*author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

**See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/22/radical-anti-abortion-plans-republicans

See Matthew Fox, “Opus Dei,” in Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp. 106-124.  

Also see Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul & Society.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Iran protests, 2022.” Photo by Taymaz Valley on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you see parallels between the compulsion to control women in Iranian society and the compulsion to control women in the Roberts-Thomas-Leonardo Supreme court?  Where do you think this compulsion comes from?  What can we do about it?

Recommended Reading

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II


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16 thoughts on “Beyond Empire, Patriarchy & Theocracy: Women March in Iran & US”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you tell us about the 22 year old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini who was murdered for the crime of not wearing her hajib appropriately. Then you tell us, “Meanwhile, back in America, there are parallel goings-on with many states passing laws that politicians have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies.” And you also mention Opus Dei’s involvement in obtaining six of the Supreme Court Judges. But religion is far more patriarchal than the state, as in Islam, Catholicism, and many other Fundamentalist Christian Churches. In the Catholic Church women are not allowed to be priest (as in many Fundamentalist Churches) or as such administer the sacraments because Paul says that it was a woman (Eve) who brought sin into the world, and more than this, according to Leviticus she is considered unclean once a month and so she could in no way approach the altar–and the Church has killed its share of women–remember the Witch craze ??? We have got to work to transform both the politics of discrimination against women and the Church’s repression of them.
    Get the Via Transformativa in gear !!

  2. Avatar

    We can meditate for attunement to our spirits that unify our collective actions taken daily, so necessary now, to dissipate the attempts by some politicians to murder half of our species, women. Everyone of us, male or female in gender, are called by our spirits within, now, to recognize the anger, voice and protests by those that have been suppressed for Millennia. A critical mass in our collective consciousness is peaking as we can witness those who wish to destroy the Feminine Sparks of Divinity within all genders, all cultures, all suppressed minorities, ignoring our Diverse Divine Nature. The voices of the Divine Feminine in our Nature come from many incarnate spirits of the Divine among us. Our spirits within, will guide our daily actions to stop, through our voting systems, the suicidal/homicidal actions of those in positions of power, so out of balance, who would like us to join with them in their crass cacophony of destructive behaviors. They are now attempting, before our eyes, to destroy ourselves/themselves, both the same antithesis of Love.

    In a twist of positive irony, by managing our interior, we become masters of our exterior.
    RAMONE G. CORRALES

    Growth takes place in a person by working at a deep inner level in a sustained atmosphere of silence.
    IRA PROGOFF

    I honor those who try to rid themselves of any lying, who empty the self and have only clear being there.
    RUMI
    https://drdarrylpokea.com/meditation-steady-as-we-go/

  3. Avatar

    Harry Freedman in his essay on The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition has this to say about abortion:

    The Jewish position on abortion is very clear. The mother’s life has primacy. If a foetus is deemed to be endangering the mother’s life, then it is regarded, in halachic terms, as a ‘pursuer’. In Jewish law, if we see someone chasing another with the intention of killing them, we are obliged to intervene even if it means killing the pursuer. Similarly, if a foetus is deemed to be ‘pursuing’ the mother, endangering her life, an abortion is not only permitted but mandated. And the critical matter here of course is what we mean by danger. Are we speaking only about physical danger, that the mother will not survive childbirth? What about her mental health or her inability to raise children, for example, due to learning difficulties or poverty? Do these count as danger too?

    There are no easy answers to these questions and most rabbinic authorities would not countenance abortion on demand, for the sake of convenience, without being able to show that the mother is in some way endangered. But this is a far cry from prohibiting abortion, ab initio, due to a dogmatic position that life begins at conception.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, We do well, as you have reminded us, to look at what the Rabbi’s have said on this topic, for these laws should be considered with great regard because the Jews are our spiritual ancestors and our brothers and sisters today.

  4. Avatar

    Matthew, before I listened to today’s meditation I read another meditation by Edward Hays. In a book called Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, part of one of his psalms says “ God did not create us to be the Styrofoam slaves of the keepers of Dow and Jones, who when the corporate world is finished with us can cast us aside like once used coffee cups.” This resonates with what David Korten and you say about a Democratic economy and the status of workers in our country.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Ellen, I love your quotation from Edward Hays book: Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, where he says, “God did not create us to be the Styrofoam slaves of the keepers of Dow and Jones, who when the corporate world is finished with us can cast us aside like once used coffee cups.” Hopefully we are worth more than Styrofoam cups… but I don’t think so to corporations…

  5. Avatar

    Patriarchy has been and continues to be a destructive force in our culture and others. Religion is used to reinforce the status quo. Only when we all unite to stand against this odious belief will peace and justice prevail. Will it happen?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Barb, You write today in part: “Religion is used to reinforce the status quo. Only when we all unite to stand against this odious belief will peace and justice prevail.” Then you ask: “Will it happen?” It better happen–5,000 years of it is ENOUGH !!! And shame on religion for not being the head but the ASS end… If Jesus taught peace, love, forgiveness, acceptance–all of these things, Where is the Church ??? They might be taking care of the poor as with St. Vincent DePaul and other religious organizations, BUT few are doing enough to change the whole patriarchal structure that subjugates women !!!

  6. Avatar

    In answer to your questions Matthew — YES! YES! And of course we know the long historical roots of unbalanced, toxic, destructive patriarchal values and domination in human social history (past 6000yrs.), especially against women, Indigenous peoples, and Mother Nature/Earth and all Her living creatures and graceful resources/blessings that maintain All Life on Earth… Now, like you’ve emphasized in recent DMs, along with other prominent environmentalists and deep human social thinkers (postdoom.com/Conversations), we are in the spiritual and transformative Era of Reckoning with world patriarchal industrial civilization ending and our Sacred Mother Earth Environment and All Her living species, including our own own, at existential risk (many thousands of species have already died and most of the earth environment is increasingly dangerously polluted according to scientists)…. We all truly need God’s Spirit of Compassionate Mercy~Wisdom~Justice~Peace~Healing~Creativity~Oneness… in our daily communion within, with one another, and with Sacred Mother Nature….
    ?❤️??

  7. Avatar

    I am tired. deep relaxation comes with awareness of my breath and of the miracle of being alive with all other creatures. But my heart and mind knows the destruction we are doing and I ache. I am tired

    1. Avatar

      I understand, Mair. I wrote this poem from, I think, your frame of reference a couple of years ago.

      The pain of this world has worn me out this morning
      I need a nap
      I need to forget that babies are being torn from mother’s arms at the border
      I need to forget that an anarchist
      presuming himself to be king sits in the Oval Office
      And the lies keep coming

      I need to forget about the melting ice sheets
      And the Rohinga huddled together in great masses
      with scarce food and water and reason to live
      And of 22% of my own country’s children
      who go to sleep food insecure every night

      I need to forget that our children are afraid to go to school
      for fear of being massacred (thank God it’s summer)
      And I don’t want to remember all the other things I also want to forget

      I need a nap, and it isn’t yet noon

      Ah, but a hawk just landed on my garden fence
      In its world too the strong eat the weak
      Even so, in its world
      Unlike in my country
      There’s something natural about that

  8. Avatar

    Dear Mair,
    I am tired also. And it is deeply wounding, the ongoing fascism and Opus Dei thinking in the Church, as well as the state fascism outside of it. How could Jesus bear all this? Ongoing, ongoing, centuries later. We have to hope the young people will act with wholistic intentions and actions. Any one of us can be overwhelmed, but if we can manage to act in solidarity, we can make headway. We have to say that the roles being played are NOT natural, they are socially contrived. The universe is full of creativity and originality and new ways to make progress. We have to hope in that! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Avatar

    I believe that the compulsion to control women comes from deep and mostly unconscious fears on the part of insecure men of women’s innate natural powers of carrying life, growing life and nurturing life within their bodies. In Iran, the bodies must be covered, in this country, the bodies’ functions must be controlled. Insecure men are terrified that, in truth, they are superfluous in the life carrying business and only contribute to the beginning. The natural powers if women must be stifled, controlled, and killed, if necessary. Clearly, the patriarchy here and in Iran and elsewhere has gone too far. The resistance has cost lives. If people here don’t wake up to the fact that all freedoms and rights have been increasingly limited, then I fear there will be much more violence. The hopeful signs, though, are these very resistances and the revealing of the evil spreading across the globe by brave journalists and others who speak out–like Matthew.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Today you write, “Clearly, the patriarchy here and in Iran and elsewhere has gone too far. The resistance has cost lives. If people here don’t wake up to the fact that all freedoms and rights have been increasingly limited, then I fear there will be much more violence.” So the question is, in a Gandhi-like way, can we protest and resist to the point that change will come–and not in a hundred years but soon to now! Or will we have to storm the Vatican as the Trump supporters stormed the Capital ??? And thank you for closing your comment with these words, “The hopeful signs, though, are these very resistances and the revealing of the evil spreading across the globe by brave journalists and others who speak out–like Matthew.” THANK YOU MATTHEW !!!

  10. Avatar

    I too, am tired!! But now is not the time to indulge in non action!
    Matthew, you ask ‘what can we do about it?’ We can do everything in our power to get out the vote!! We can join protests in solidarity with women. We can hold signs like ABORT THE SUPREME COURT!!
    Join local groups working to educate voters. Now, I understand Michael Moore may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But he is a truth sayer!! He is Calling election month Roevember!! He believes there will be a tsunami of women voting to change the tide! Here is a link to his countdown to Election Day (43 days) messages
    https://www.michaelmoore.com/p/ep-256-rumble-mikes-midterm-tsunami-campaign?utm_source=podcast-email%2Csubstack&utm_medium=email#details. If this link doesn’t work google him.
    I live five miles from the NH border. That is where my group will be setting up registration tables to be sure everyone who can vote is registered.
    What will you be doing from now until
    Election Day?

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