A self-described radical feminist theologian entirely too self-involved in her own rhetoric to realize that she's a sexist. Or, perhaps she knows she's a sexist, but it's been forced upon her by the oppressive male-dominated society that has existed on this planet for over 5,000 years. She refused to allow men into her classes, denied the student press access to her lectures, and her frequent absences have prompted one school paper (The Observer) to offer a position on staff to anyone who can produce an on-campus photograph of her. At any rate, her retirement was accepted by Boston College in 1999, but not without controversy.

She used to teach as an Associate Professor at Boston College, teaching Introduction To Feminism, Feminist Ethics II and Myths And Patterns Of Patriarchy. Male students had often complained about the apparent double standard of male exclusion from her classes. It was Daly's refusal to allow men in her classes that caused all of the controversy. Daly believes that the presence of men is a distraction when discussing women's issues and that women defer to a man when one is present. Men have talked enough, she feels, and there is nothing more that women can learn from them. The last male to try to enroll in one of her classes was told "Your kind isn't welcome here." This doesn't help much to break down the stereotype of feminists as being angry man-hating militants. Excluding men in discussions of feminism only alienates them more from something they don't understand and have little perspective about. But Daly doesn't care.

Until a student filed a lawsuit against the school for Title IX discrimination, though, Daly was allowed to continue her one-gendered teaching. After the lawsuit was filed, Boston College asked her to comply with the law. She fired back in a letter explaining that the law was passed by a patriarchal society (which one could argue is true, but it's Title IX, for Christ's sake), and that she would either resign or retire before allowing male students in her classes. Boston College accepted her retirement, at which point she sued for unlawful dismissal. Boston College won the first round of the trial, as a Massachusetts judge (who was female, by the way) sided with Boston College. Daly stands firm in her belief.

Listen to this quote: "Even if there were only one or two men with 20 women, the young women would be constantly on an overt or a subliminal level giving their attention to the men because they've been socialized to nurse men." She still feels that educated women at an institute of higher learning will act subserviant in the presence of men. Maybe in the fifties, but now? I guess when you've been preaching the same rhetoric for thirty years, stubbornly refusing to even look at the other side of things, you miss the changes that go on in the world around you. Some other Dalyisms:

  • She claims that bees, spiders, and plants send her messages all the time (but no invisible penguins)
  • Allegedly invokes the spirits of Sappho, Sojourner Truth, and Virginia Woolf before lecturing
  • Firmly believes that men are environmental polluters and murderers of trees (Perhaps the bees told her that?)
  • Refers to the Immaculate Conception as "the ultimate depiction of (pre-natal) woman-battering, a mythic model of incestuous assault."
Um, okay. While I feel that it's important for a university to have as many conflicting viewpoints as possible, and from all accounts she was an inspired lecturer and great teacher, as a graduate of Boston College I can't say I'm upset to see her go, if only because she stubbornly refused to allow men in her classes. While I myself would have trouble sitting in one of her classes without laughing hysterically in her face, I think that a lot of men could contribute to the class and take from it something worthwhile, and excluding 50% of the population because of something they have no control over is ridiculous.
Mary Daly is a contemporary radical feminist theologian and Positively Revolting Hag. Or that's how she describes herself. She has seven college degrees, of which three are doctorates. She was born around 1930, and currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts following her dismissal from Boston College amid controversy surrounding her teaching methodology.

Mary Daly was raised in a traditional Catholic home in pre-World War II New York. Her upbringing placed emphasis on education rather than leisure, and she went to all Catholic private schools her pre-adult life. As a youngster she would read as much as she could get her hands on and seemed disgusted with her immature classmates. She would long to be in high school where the classes seemed more interesting. The emphasis on religion in her youth led to a keen interest in philosophy and religion.. Her interest in these subjects led her to question her role and the role of women in the Catholic Church. Her studies eventually led her away from mainstream Catholicism and led her to scholarly excellence in the fields of theology and philosophy, with five degrees in the fields.

Mary Daly received her first degree as a Bachelor of Arts in English at the College of St. Rose, in Albany, New York. Following high school, she chose the College of St. Rose because of its proximity to home and because she was given a scholarship. Following her receipt of her first degree, she went on to get her Master's degree in English at the Catholic University of America. Despite her desire to acquire a PhD, no college in the United States would permit women to study theology, nor could she get a degree in philosophy. Mary was forced to travel to Switzerland to get her degree, surviving on a small foreign student's budget, while traveling Europe on her scooter. Eventually, she was able to receive a baccalaureate, licentiate, and doctorate from the University of Fribourg, in the field of sacred theology. She also eventually received a PhD in philosophy from the same university. She also received a PhD from St. Mary's College, Notre Dame.

After getting her PhDs in Switzerland she saw an ad in a liberal Catholic magazine for a new Catholic school for girls in Indiana. She applied for the job and got it. While she was here she faced sexism and her male boss did not believe that a woman could teach philosophy. From here she devoted her life to the empowerment of women in religion and philosophy. After teaching at college in Indiana she moved back to New England to start a new career. She knew she wanted to continue to teach, but she wanted to teach at a coed school. She landed a job teaching philosophy and religion at the Jesuit run Boston College. She taught here for 25 years. During those years she taught classes that she restricted only to women and the others were coed. In the class that she reserved for women she allowed for private instruction of males. No males however took her up on the offer. She stated that having men in the class disrupted the dynamic and took away from the learning.

After teaching for 25 years a male student wanted to enroll in her women's only class. When she refused him enrollment he complained to the administration. There is some dispute of what happened next some say that Mary Daly was fired, some say she retired, and some say she took a paid leave of absence. But for whatever reason she now does not teach at Boston College. Because of her stance against men in her classes she is the topic of much discussion among feminists and conservatives. And that's the reason that she calls herself a Positively Revolting Hag.

Ever since Mary Daly read an article written by a feminist catholic in liberal magazine she realized that she had to write as well. She was ashamed that she had not spoken up earlier and vowed to have a voice and to begin writing. Since she has written many books discussing feminism, women in religion and philosophy. Among her works are her autobiography Outercourse. Beyond God the Father which tells how God is a sexist and that Christianity was created to keep women in their place. Gynecology where Daly bashes the world that males have created but not males themselves. She speaks of the actions and language that continue to oppress women. Quintessance she discusses the similarities to women and nature and how each have been and continue to be oppressed in the patriarchal world. Pure Lust where she forges a new mode of thinking that is in harmony with the wild in nature and in the Self. She inspires women to reconnect with their lusty, elemental powers. The Church and the Second Sex which is her response to Simone de Beauvoir's writings.

Today she continues to write and speak to audiences about corruption in the church, eco-feminism, and philosophy.
Although Cosmic Cat's write up is well written, it is only true to a point. I would like to correct two aspects of the write up, so that there will be no misunderstanding.

First, although Mary Daly did call herself a Positively Revolting Hag, Cosmic Cat does not have the reason correct. She did not call herself that because of the controversies she caused or the way she conducted herself. This title is a part of her rhetoric. Daly believed that there are two worlds: the patriarchal foreground and the Background, a society in which women are Self-identified and free from the oppressive ideals of the male dominated foreground. In the Background, women use titles such as Hags, Crones, Spinsters, Fates, Scolds, Shrews, Soothsayers, Virgins, Websters, and Weirds - words that have negative connotations in the foreground. This is Daly's rhetoric - she takes words that are generally derogatory toward women and transforms them into ideas of empowerment. In the Background, a Hag is one of the most respecting member of society, only second to a Crone, who has completed her journey.

The second correction I would like to make is the spelling of the title of her book, Gyn/Ecology. This, too, is a part of her rhetoric. She believes gynecology to be another oppression put upon women by the patriarchy of the foreground, and in order to correct the meaning of this word to suit her own purposes and the purposes of the women in the Background, she changes its meaning by adding the slash in between the Gyn and the Ecology, making it a much more empowering idea. She calls this method Be-spelling.

Source used: Feminist Rhetorical Theories, by Karen A. Foss, Sonja K. Foss, and Cindy L. Griffin

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