OLD SCHOOL R.I.P.

The theologian and philosopher, Mary Daly has died, aged 81. THE GUARDIAN has an obit. that is brief and reasonably accurate and I'm sure there are weightier tributes around the media this week.

It must say something about the liberal indoctrination of my generation that although I know the term for a woman hater (I should do, I'm accused of being one every time I say something negative about a woman who isn't a Republican and when I crack a joke about them that even sniffs of containing a stereotype), I do not know the term for a man hater. Whatever, Mary Daly was one and this created her genius and all her flaws.

I can see how very important she was from a Hegelian point of view. When she hit the headlines in 1968 her uncompromising attack on all things male was absolutely necessary. But, as the feminist thinkers who followed her started to put forward more subtle critiques of mankind and humankind, her refusal to see the male ego's place in relation to women in anything but black and white terms (where men were always painted black) made her an anachronism within 10 years of her initial fame. One thing I have never been able to see the point of is women only groups and Daly went all the way to resigning her professorship on her insistence that no men should be allowed in her classroom. This led to her being a counsellor rather than an educator.

At the end of the day Mary Daly identified the evils of men and then proceeded to invent a female mirror image of them. In their own way her female gods were as exclusive and cruel as the male gods she proclaimed had usurped them.

However, it is extremely possible that without Mary Daly all the women who visit this blog to accuse me of misogyny would never do so. They would be too busy hoovering the lounge so it was nice and tidy for their husband when he came home from work.

So, well done, Mary. Someone had to do it. And you took up that challenge with integrity and a life long commitment that is rarely seen nowadays in our commercial sector and catholic Church sponsored halls of learning.

Comments

OLD SCHOOL R.I.P. — 27 Comments

  1. Well, do you see any point in men only groups? There are plenty of those, right?

    Hey, I thought the question was begging to be asked.

    Anyway…this woman is viewed pretty much as a saint among Goddess spirituality people and many UU women. During my years as a Dianic/feminist witch, I could bash men with the best of them.

    But thankfully, I met Joe – who influenced me and encouraged a *far more* balanced view, at least where gender is concerned. Seriously; I was a complete raging…well, never mind. I now view that world with some level of cynicism, believe me.

    Good thing she and Joe never met, because if they had done, the resulting blast would put both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to shame. 😀

    Jonathan, you wrote “Mary Daly identified the evils of men and then proceeded to invent a female mirror image of them. In their own way her female gods were as exclusive and cruel as the male gods she proclaimed had usurped them.”

    Yes, but also know that there is an undercurrent in the women’s spirituality world that overcompensates in the other direction, and edifies Goddesses who in their sweetness and light and purity and compassion, etc, would totally put the Holy Virgin to utter shame. It gets almost sickly sweet, like treacle. Ugh.

  2. Just to add to the “Bigger Picture”…

    Daly referred to transgender people as “Frankensteinian,” and chaired the dissertation of Janice Raymond–a work which is often cited by people who oppose granting rights to transgendered people under ENDA.

    Daly was also challenged for her racism in perpetuating images of women of color as purely victims or as agents of their own oppression.

    A complicated, combative, and brilliant woman–with her own set of cultural blinders….

    Pax,
    Doxy

  3. Well, do you see any point in men only groups? There are plenty of those, right?

    Well, there aren’t many in England outside of the Masons (and I bet a lot of them would like to liven their meetings up with a bit of female balance – like French Masons). And we certainly don’t do women only university education. That would not be a “university.”

  4. Daly referred to transgender people as “Frankensteinian,”

    You people keep telling me that things have moved on in the US, and I believe you. But this attitude towards transsexuals was certainly the lesbian (and gay) line when I was young and going to clubs.

  5. Still is, MP. Just look around for comments on President Obama’s appointment of Amanda Simpson. You can find plenty of appallingly offensive comments about that on both gay/lesbian sites and on right-wing sites. It’s frightening when you can’t tell the difference between them…

  6. It is indeed a “misandrist” – but you won’t find this word in most dictionaries! When I ask students to come up with the opposite of misogynist, in other words the term for a “man hater”, they usually say “feminist” or sometimes “lesbian”!

  7. I was an undergraduate at Boston College in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and it is my great regret that I never took her classes because I objected to her exclusion of men. I still think it was unfortunate, but I understand better, now, why she did it. And, to be fair, something that is generally not mentioned, she taught men the subject matter in private or small group tutorials. In the end, someone sued over it, and managed to get her kicked out of BC as part of a settlement (even though she was tenured).

    Hating any group on principle is not ok, of course. But Daly was indeed brilliant, and a necessary voice to start conversations we are still having.

  8. Daly referred to transgender people as “Frankensteinian,” and chaired the dissertation of Janice Raymond–a work which is often cited by people who oppose granting rights to transgendered people under ENDA.

    Didn’t know that, but am not surprised (what w/ her Black/White—or should I say X/Y?—views). To Raymond & Co (I guess that includes Daly), the ONLY kind of Transgender person, is a Y-Chromosomed Marilyn Monroe-impersonator (right down to the “agent of own oppression” “I’m a Stoopid, Man-Crazy Blonde!” thang). Not my cup of tea—IF there even IS such a stereotype!—but as proposed/opposed as the “only” kind of TG/TS person, truly reprehensible in its diversity-crushing.

    I wonder what in the world she made of Intersex people? Would she have supported the doctors who automatically counsel to parents “Cut to Fit”—“safely” into her All-Encompassing Dichotomy (Dyke-to-Me! ;-/)

    Still & All: like you said, MP, she was a Necessary Evil. Someone to champion Yin to the xth degree (even if it becomes all but indistiguishible from Yang to the yth degree, in the process).

    I don’t think she would want to “rest in peace” (and “rise in glory” would be WAAAAAAAY too phallic for her!). So to Mary, I just say “Rage On, Rouse Wet!” 😉

  9. I saw a pretty positive post about her at America magazine’s blog, as she had taught at a Jesuit college. Most of the comments, though, were so mean-spirited (anti-gay/lesbian) that they deleted them all.

  10. It’s worse than that, JCF. I don’t have the actual book here (Raymond’s dissertation was published in book form), but Wikipedia says this:

    Raymond is also known for The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, a 1979 book on transsexuality. It contends that male-to-female transsexuals are part of a plot by men to infiltrate the women’s movement. Raymond maintains that transsexualism is based on the “patriarchal myths” of “male mothering,” and “making of woman according to man’s image.” She claims this is done in order “to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality,” adding:

    “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.

    Nasty piece of work, and Daly oversaw it.

    None of us is perfect, and I trust that Daly already knows the error of her ways. But I have been spending a lot of time lately reading up on transgender issues and I think it’s important to shine a light on this hateful stuff. I don’t have to explain to you why it is terribly dangerous to very vulnerable people. 🙁

    Pax,
    Doxy

  11. Now you know, I’ve always thought that it’s women that give transsexuals a bad name. I mean they can let the side down. Some of the naturally borns don’t even bother. They go out into the streets, in full daylight, no make up, wearing men’s trousers. I mean, talk about wasting what God has given you. They should have to work for it and suffer like the girls do. Then I bet they would make a bit more effort.

  12. MP, honey, you’re starting to give your naturally borns a bad name, just above. (I mean naturally born satirists—or maybe satyrs). Either way, dear heart, kindly STFU. Toodles!

  13. JCF. If you have a fault it’s that you spend so much time talking about yourself that you never listen to anybody else. I expect it’s a man thing.

  14. Eileen, I’m just dying to know what the “should I go get Dennis?” thing is about!

    Really I have zero desire in participating in a discussion about gender politics. Zip. Nada.

  15. She was a brilliant Roman Catholic woman–doesn’t that explain her obsession with excluding men from every corner of her reality from her metaphysics to her classroom? A limited view, a wrong view, but at the time she created new spaces for new thoughts and being–I wouldn’t be hoovering the lounge, but I wouldn’t be so naughtily, intellectually free if she hadn’t thrown a hand grenade into the middle of Christendom. Rage in peace, Mary.
    Rebecca

  16. As you’re so in touch w/ your feminine side, MP, a “Rage On, Rouse Wet” to you, too! 😉

  17. “And we certainly don’t do women only university education. That would not be a “university.”

    But we do – Cambridge has 3 colleges that admit only women yet not a single one that admits only men. Personally, I think it sucks.

  18. oh, sorry I’m a bit slow sometime. that is funny. good laugh on my part. I had forgotten that just today I complained that I miss all the fun disputes at OCICBW

  19. I met Mary Daly at a couple Women’s Music Festivals and though she was difficult to get to know personally (my take–YMMV), I find her writing, especially Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, still breathes fire.

    I understand the idea of women’s space and feel that, yes, it is a different kind of space, one which continues to beat down the sword of silence that Tillie Olsen described so well all those years ago.

    Her death is a great loss to us all.

    –sheila–

  20. … that wasn’t a proper obit in the Guardian … just a blog entry on the Comment is Free Belief section. Which is a shame.