The pioneering, post-Catholic feminist theologian Mary Daly died on January 3rd at the age of 81. Writes Thomas C. Fox in the National Catholic Reporter:
She was one of the most influential voices of the radical feminist movement through the later 20th century.
Daly taught courses in theology, feminist ethics and patriarchy at Boston College for 33 years. Her first book, “The Church and the Second Sex,” published in 1968, got her fired, briefly, from her teaching position there, but as a result of support from the (then all-male) student body and the general public, she was ultimately granted tenure.
According to a 2000 Cross Currents profile, “Much of her work since that time has consisted in blowing exuberant raspberries at the Vatican, Boston College, and the keepers of the patriarchal flame generally — who may have expected no better outcome from educating a woman, and must feel betrayed and vindicated by turns.”
At Religion Dispatches, Susan Henking offers a personal tribute to Daly and her ideas:
For Daly, women, (W)omen—that’s what she was all about. And, even more radically, she was about women loving women, lesbians with a capital L, meaning not those of a certain sexual orientation embedded within patriarchy, but those who truly loved themSelves. For Daly, as she eventually came to see it, debates between Jungianism and Freudianism, between Marxism and Nazism, Christianity and Judaism or Buddhism, were all what Freud (whose work she also drew on) would have called “the narcissism of small differences.” All were, for her, sects within the grand (and tragic) religion of patriarchy.
Clerical Whispers exhibits one of the many misgivings that critics have had about her work in the course of her career:
But some reviewers seemed discomforted by Professor Daly’s later prose, which appeared to dovetail ever more snugly with New Age rhetoric:
“Although I was not in a ‘trance’ when writing Gyn/Ecology, I was in a special mode of creative consciousness, which stemmed, in part, from a will to overcome all phallocratically imposed fears and Move on the Journey of Gynocentric Creation,” she wrote in the 1990 edition of Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Beacon), originally published in 1978.