Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mary Daly 1928-2010

Photo of Mary Daly from Trivia: Voices of Feminism.

Not just any feminist's passing gets mentioned on NPR. Not just any feminist's passing is noted by the National Catholic Reporter:

Feminist theologian Mary Daly died January 3. She was a radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian who taught at Boston College for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her Women's Studies classroom.
Her books included Beyond God the Father; Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism; Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy and Webster’s First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language.

Intergalactic was most assuredly the word. She wasn't quite on the same planet as the rest of us.

I didn't like her.

Kittywampus wrote a very good obituary, and this was my comment at her blog:
Daly did irreparable harm to feminism with her essentialism and transphobia, and we are still dealing with the fallout. As a Catholic, I believe she did irreparable harm to Catholic women who sought to reform the Church; she advised radical women to withdraw from it, leaving the liberal women who preferred to stay, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind. (I notice she didn’t advise them to withdraw from other patriarchal structures such as, um, academia.) In her later books like Pure Lust, she was positively hateful to any feminists who did not follow her out of the Church, but instead chose to stay and fight. Her way or the highway.

She was SO arrogant she did not even respond to Audre Lorde’s Open Letter To Mary Daly, which charged Daly with colonialism. I found it interesting that she simply ignored Lorde, rather as the males in the Church ignored Daly… she imitated the exact behavior that she criticized men for elsewhere.

Following the dictum “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”–I have decided not to write an obit for Daly. Considering the way she ignored Lorde and encouraged [Janice] Raymond, I’ve decided she doesn’t deserve one from a practicing Catholic. (She wouldn’t want one from a hopelessly-tainted woman such as me anyway. In Pure Lust she announced we were “imitation males”.)

I always thought it was weird that she railed against Churchly segregation of women, then went ahead and tried to keep men out of her classes. Like they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
This is my last word on Daly. Comments welcome, but please keep it civil.