Mary Daly, feminist theologian who fought against church patriarchy, died on Sunday, December 2nd. Daly was 81 and residing in Newton Centre Massachusetts at the time. In case you don’t already know who she is, in short: Mary Daly is an important woman to remember.
Daly taught at Boston College as a theology professor from the 1960’s until 2006, where she was “strongly encouraged” to retire after a lawsuit involving her refusal to let men join her classes. Daly felt that men would ruin the atmosphere and conversational dynamic of her classes. The Boston Globe quotes her explaining:
“If a man were in the class he would be very likely to say, ‘Oh, no. I am oppressed too… I can’t cry. I’m not allowed to express myself, wah, wah’.”
Daly made immense contributions to the feminist movement, especially with regard to the church. Her book The Church and the Second Sex, which was published in 1966, questioned the systematic patriarchy of the church and claimed that the Catholic Church was furthering the oppression of women. Her other books, although less notorious, were equally provocative and include Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation and the 1990 edition of Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism.
Daly will be remembered as a radical and outspoken academic icon whose four degrees, inspiring intelligence, and headstrong passion contributed to her undeniably fierce and provocative air. Author James Carol explains in the Boston Globe that Mary Daly was just as important to the Catholic world as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was to the secular world. Gloria Steinem explains:
“She was a great trained philosopher, theologian, and poet, and she used all of those tools to demolish patriarchy — or any idea that domination is natural — in its most defended place, which is religion.”
In her memory, and because of my recklessly impulsive personality, I have ordered two of her recent books from Amazon, which I will soon read, and I recommend that you all do the same.