Women Regain Control of Their Bodies in “Dune: Part Two”


Science fiction or reality? Women’s rights take the center stage in today’s discussion, and in the new movie “Dune: Part Two.”

woman desert



“With all due respect, justices, women are not without electoral or political power.”

-President Joe Biden, State of the Union message, March 7, 2024

Last night was a presidential State of the Union message. Women’s rights were one of early foci. Right on the heels of that, today is the annual International Women’s Day, and we are living in a time when women have lost some control over their bodies. Their ability to get desired abortions in the United States has been compromised in many states. Now, in Alabama, the question of whether an embryo is a child has legally arisen. Domestic violence continues and in the invasion of Israel, women were subject to extreme sexual violence. Fueled with the continuing combination of sexism, ageism, and racism, all these issues also have ramifications for women’s mental health.

Although it is a science fiction projection over 10,000 years in the future, the Dune novel and movies presents a different picture. There is a cultish sisterhood called the Bene Gesserit that train over millennia to control various body processes, including the gender of their offspring. Ultimately, they plan to produce a Messiah through a controlled breeding process. With a personal deviation from the plan, Lady Jessica produces a male heir, Paul Atreides, which her husband desires, instead of a girl. What happens to him as he leads the revolt of the indigenous Fremen is continued in the next book, Dune Messiah. They have also learned to control their fear, recognizing that undue “fear is a mind-killer,” and can use a power of an altered talking voice tone to influence others.

In “Dune: Part Two,” there is another woman, Chani, who plays a vital role. She, like other Fremen women, seem to be equal warrior partners in the fight against the empire’s colonial powers in controlling the powerful psychedelic, spice. Moreover, she becomes a romantic partner of Paul, but at the same time doubts his assumed role of a Messiah. After Paul chooses to marry the emperor’s daughter for political reasons, the movie ends with her riding a sand worm somewhere. Where that leads her is also to be continued.

Some positive and negative aspects of Dune have evolved in reality over the almost 60 years since its publication. There is recognition of the kind of global warming seen in the dangerous desert environment. There is a second coming of psychedelics. There are 2 major planetary wars with the threat of atomic devastation. There are cultural and religious conflicts.

With some added inspiration of the movie, perhaps some advances for women will evolve, too.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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