Mary Daly, R.I.P.

Another seminal modern theologian and influence on the feminist-pagan movement has passed into the mystery.

Ms Daly developed a radical theology and feminist critique that men and male identity are culturally designed to oppress women. She developed a method of radicalizing language to help women free themselves of patriarchal oppression inherent in cultural language contexts. She was incredibly influential, creative, acerbic and wise.

Personally her work challenged me deeply in my early 20s and, I hope, helped me become more aware of the subtle power-patriarchy within myself and my relationships with women. I was hanging around with a group of radical lesbians (women who left the room when men entered) and political lesbians (women choosing to only have sex with women despite wanting to smooch men). They viewed Mary Daly in ways verging on worship and I kept expecting Gyn/Ecology to be placed on an altar and have vulva shaped flowers thrown over it on the hour, every hour. 🙂

Ms Daly was so radical she left many people – women and men – cold. But like the radical green politics of the 80s, she provided one end of the spectrum by which a moderate ground could form. Her influence and presence in the modern neo-pagan movement is probably unknown and unseen except by scholars and a few older folk. But without her work I wager things would be different.

Thank you, Ms Daly.

May the Mound keep you and bless you.

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8 comments

  1. kate · January 5, 2010

    This is extremely interesting, Peregrin. I have not heard of Mary Daly before, but without even reading further, I know what she must be describing, absolutely. I have seen language used this way before both consciously and unconsciously. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Peregrin · January 5, 2010

    Hi Kate,

    if you have a few solid days alone have a look at Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language . You’ll love it. Or have some reaction at least. The days will fly past as you grapple with it all 🙂

  3. kate · January 5, 2010

    Hah! Nice.

    I’ll check that out.

    Thank you 🙂

  4. Suecae · January 5, 2010

    She must have been an interesting character and may she rest in peace.

    I have a lot of issues with ‘radical feminism’ in general and those that view male sexuality as inherently opressive in particular. But those arguments will have to rest too.

  5. Kate · January 6, 2010

    I agree with you Suecae, sexism works both ways. I also have problems with her views towards transgenders.

  6. kate · January 6, 2010

    I emailed the author and he was able to clarify and put this into better perspective…

  7. Asher · January 6, 2010

    She must have really hated her Father for being a man, and directly resposible for her being born at all. Ever heard of ‘wise fools’?

  8. Catherine BTW · January 11, 2010

    I had not realized. Thank you for sharing. Mary Daly was a major influence when I was a young woman in divinity school & awakening to feminism. Thank you Ms Daly indeed.

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