Mary Daly, radical feminist/theology scholar, passed away yesterday morning at the age of 81. I’ll just let her own biography speak for itself:
Mary Daly–triple Ph.D., grande dame of feminist theologian scholarship, demolition derbyist of patriarchal “mindbindings,” perennial foe of “university bore-ocrats and other academented busybodies,” self-described “Positively Revolting Hag,” […] started out a perfectly normal, good little girl, albeit unusually bright who wanted to study philosophy and religion.
Amazing as it may seem twoscore years later, in the 1950s there were no American universities that allowed women to enter their graduate programs in theology. Dismayed, yet determined to follow her path, Daly repaired to Switzerland, living on a shoestring for several years and amassing various advanced degrees from the University of Freiburg when not sojourning about Europe on a scooter.
Back in the States, Daly found herself amidst social currents that would soon give rise to the civil rights and antiwar movements of the sixties. In her own sphere she was beginning to take aim–with all cool academic rigor–at the male supremacism of organized Christianity, first in The Church and the Second Sex (1968) and then in the groundbreaking, germinal Beyond God the Father (1973). […]
A scholar and seeker by nature, Daly did not set out to be a radical. But a telling sentence in Outercourse might explain the impetus that created a radical’s life–and indeed that drives all progress: “I was looking,” she writes, “for something that was not in the courses.”
I was first introduced to Daly’s work in undergrad. I was taking Feminist Theory, and Daly was briefly mentioned in the Intro to Feminism book. Intrigued, I bought a copy of Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, and later, Beyond God the Father. Some of her presentation is way a little out there, but I’m grateful that I was exposed to her scholarship so early in my studies.