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Mary Daly

Philosopher / Theologian

Born: 16 October 1928
Died: 3 January 2010
Birthplace: Schenectady, New York
Best known as: The feminist professor who battled Boston College
Feminist philosopher Mary Daly fought repeatedly with Boston College from 1966 to 2001 over her controversial books, her status as a professor and her freedom to reserve some classes for women only. Raised Roman Catholic but prevented by Catholic colleges from studying philosophy, she instead earned a doctorate in English in the U.S. then two more, in philosophy and theology, in Switzerland. Ironically, Jesuit-run BC then hired her to teach. Influenced by thinkers ranging from Thomas Aquinas to French feminist Simone de Beauvoir to Virginia Woolf, she developed a sweeping analysis of "patriarchy" as the root of women's oppression and of all social ills in which people are treated as objects. After her first book, The Church and the Second Sex (1968), she rapidly moved from "reformist" to "radical, post-Christian" feminist. Women operating on patriarchy's boundaries, she wrote, can spiral into freedom by renaming and reclaiming an ancient woman-centered reality that was stolen and eradicated by patriarchy.
Extra credit: Her other books include Beyond God the Father (1973), Gyn/Ecology (1978), Pure Lust (1984), the autobiographical Outercourse (1992), Quintessence (1998) and Amazon Grace (2006)... Daly challenged patriachy through words themselves. "Dalyisms" such as "gynergy" and "phallocracy," and her uses of capitals and hyphens, as in "Stag-nation," are explained in Wickedary (1987), a "meta-dictionary" of her philosophy... Her fight with BC was litigious at the end, with the college claiming she had agreed to retire and Daly implying she was being forced out.

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More on Mary Daly from Infoplease:

  • Mary Daly - Biography of Mary Daly, The feminist professor who battled Boston College
  • Selected Biographies: D - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters

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