This article is from the Sunday March 28, 1999 Variety section of the Mpls. StarTribune:
“Mary Daly is a world-recognized theologian and radical feminist philosopher. Some hail her as a prophet. Even those who do not nod to her linguistic inventiveness.
But do not for a minute think that Daly, 70 who has six graduate degrees and has taught at Boston College for more than three decades, let all that education get in the way of her point.
On men: “They have nothing to offer but doodoo.”
On herself: “I’m a positively revolting hag.”
On Boston College: “My employer is stupid. It’s the same old thing they’ve been doing all along, oppressing women.”
On federal law that may bar her from excluding men from her classes: “Nerdy-turdy little legalism.”
On that last one, Daly’s future now teeters precariously. After a quarter century of wary wrangling over Daly’s insistence on a women-only classroom, Boston College told her this year that she must admit men or retire. But if school administrators thought the old radical would slip quietly into the dark of a conservative night, they were wrong.
“Title IX was meant to give equality to women. To reverse it into this caricature now, to try and give equality to men in a white male-dominated society, is absured,” fumes Daly, referring to the act that prohibits sexual discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.
Daly, however, is not exactly laughing. She may have been a vaunted heroine of the 1970s with her blatant lesbianism and her book “Gyn/Ecology,” in which she describes atrocities committed by men against women and prescribes a pure state of female being. She may be lionized by those who admire her intellectual force and originality, if not her authoritarian manner.
But times have changed, and Daly’s practice of excluding men may now be found to be illegal.
The battle of principle is a fitting finale to a career that has sought no less than to alter the course of world civilization. Daly has rejected a retirement package and is uncertain what to do next. but on one thing she is clear.
“I am going to be myself,” exclaims Daly. I’m tough. I’m strong.”
But she is not polite. Daly recently agreed to talk about her dispute with Boston College, but dismissed questions about Title IX as “boring,” her employer “stupid”.
What she wanted to talk about were her books, her philosophy, and the post-Christian feminism she first articulated in her book, “Beyond God the Father”, in 1973. She wants to talk about her work as a “Pirate, Righteously Plundering and Smuggling back to women the gems which have been stolen from us by the patriarchal thieves,” as she wrote in her 1992 autobiography, “Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage.” She wants to talk about the theological voyage that took her from her birth in the year Oh, as she calls it, and away not just from the Catholic Church but Christianity and the “necrophilia of patriarchy.”
If it were not for the Boston College affair, she would be writing a sequel to her last book, “Quintessence….Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto.”
Instead, this daughter of Schenectady, N.Y., only child of a traveling salesman and a telephone operator, product of 26 years of Catholic schooling, was explaining why it is so important that her female students have a classroom of their own.
“If a man were in the class, he would be very likely to say, ‘Oh no. I am oppressed too’……He would say, ‘I can’t cry. I’m not allowed to express myself, wah, wah,” Daly explained, feigning tears. “OK. Let them go talk among themselves and complain. Not everything is about you, you, you.
“I’m not being mean,” added Daly. “I’m trying to be good to my female students and give them what they are longing for and they cannot find in the whole big monstrous insitution.”
And a lot of people agree with her. Daly, who joined Boston College in 1966, taught only men until women were admitted in 1970 and began teaching men and women separately in 1974. Since then Daly has offered to teach males privately and has done so, she says, in about a dozen cases. And that’s just the way some female students like it.
“Her class was the most engaging amazing personal experience I have had at this school,” said BC senior Kelly Matthews, one of 14 students who recently sent a letter to college adminsitrators supporting Daly. “I generally do not feel uncomfortable voicing my opi9non when men are in a class, but I absolutely prefer all-woman space to discuss women’t topics. It is a vastly different environment.”
And it is an environment that some prominent scholars say is necessary. Harvey Cox, professor at Harvard Divinity School, says that women talk differently about things when men are not present, “and that’s simply a fact of life. So while it’s important to have inclusive education, I am still aware of the fact we haven’t moved beyond patriarchy. If and when we ever do, all education, without exception, could be coed. But we aren’t there yet.”
Boston College would like to differ. Administrators insist that barring men from the classroom is a form of sexual discrimination prohibited by both Title IX and school policy. What’s more, they say, they’ve been telling Daly that for 25 years. Jack Dunn, a college spokesman, says that Daly has been reprimanded several times in connection with eight male students who have objected to being excluded over the years. In most cases, the male students dropped the matter, or Daly took one of many leaves of absence. This time, BC says, Daly risks losing her job.
And so it was that one day last fall senior Duane Naquin showed up in her classroom. Naquin, 22, wanted to take her course on feminist ethics. But when he sat down on the first day of class, Daly took him out to the hall and, according to Naquin, “she said, ‘I do not allow men in my class.’ She added, ‘It’s nothing personal; it’s just because you’re a man.’ I found that very offensive, completely irrelevant of who I was, I was literally awestruck.”
Although Daly offered to teach Naquin individually, Naquin said he wasn’t interested and went to school officials. He also got a lawyer at the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative law firm in Washington D.C., that has successfully challenged race-based admissions in Texas. In a fund raising letter, the group identifies one of its priorities as “the increasingly urgent task of confronting radical feminist doctrines and ideology.
Daly and her lawyer argue that she was only reprimanded once in 1989 and that otherwise Boston College never objected to her practice of teaching men privately. That they are doing so now, she contends is because they know it’s a hard time for all “deviants”.
“They’re doing something ethically wrong,” Daly declares. “And all this stuff about legalism, this is nerdy-turdy little legalism, legalist fundamentalism. It’s just like religious fundamentalism. Deadly. Nonintellectual. Stifling. It’s not about fairness. It’s just evil.”
She adds: “I am calling upon Boston College and other universities not to succumb to right-wing pressure. To realize this is not about discrimination. It is about dumbing down and creating a white male monoculture.”
It is hardly the first time she has called for action. In a way, she’s been doing that throughout her career, ever since BC denied her tenure in 1969 and then, astoundingly, reversed itself after 1,500 students – all men, as women were not admitted at the time — marched in protest. Daly was denied full professorship, however, and remains an associate professor.
That fact is seen by some as a measure of her unrelenting commitment to her cause. “I regard Mary Daly as a prophet,” declares Jim Carroll, a writer and former Catholic priest. “She is right, and religious establishments of almost all kinds are wrong. Just by staying at BC all these years, by refusing to allow herself to be changed, she has helped keep alive a broader hope that even those of us who are not radical on the subject can cling to. If there were no Mary Daly, all of us would be impoverished.”
Carroll, however, admits that he stopped reading Daly’s books long ago, finding them too “exclusivist.” And there are those who find Daly’s provocative, sometimes self righteous manner alienating.
“I have great admiration for her, but I don’t want to get too near her, frankly,” said Sarah Coakley, a professor at Harvard Divinity School. “I find her absolutely infuriating.”
And so, suggests Coakley, do many younger women who recoil at the notion of feminism, much less separatism. “Mary Daly looks like a bag lady who has been rejected by society and does not represent the glamour and consumer succcess which by and large they want. She may be a historic figure, but she is not for them a desirable model. They precisely do not want to be like her.”
On the Boston College campus, Daly has had a less polarizing impact. While faculty members have keen opinions about her writings, many have never met or even seen her, given that Daly has spent 14 of her 33 years a Boston College on leave.
“She has definitely been underappreciated as a scholar at Boston College,” said theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill. “But her refusal to allow men into her class I do not find defensible. If we as a university are committed to inclusion in the classroom, then to exclude men or women is not defensible.”
But if there is a prevailing perception of Daly as man-hater, a few say it is flat-out wrong. John McDargh, an associate theology professor at Boston College for 18 years, says that Daly has gone out of her way to work with some male students. Now, McCargh thinks, Daly has become a target for antifeminist backlash.
“I feel real sorrow at the way in which this woman whose scholarly contributions, whatever you think about them, have been unquestionably transformative of the way in which we think about religion and gender, is coming to the end of her career in a way that feels demeaning and insulting,” said McDargh.
“There is no defeating this woman at this point,” said Carroll. “She has made her point very powerfully. She has forced Boston College to deal with her right from the beginning, and to Boston College’s credit they have. So she changed Boston College, surely. She changed us all.”
Comment: Please reread this article and review it’s realities or lack of them. This is a real cuckoo’s nest……Mary Daly, Boston College, Harvard Divinity School….Mr. Carroll, Mr. McDargh….Title IX.
Mary Daly is or was a magnificent specimen of an embittered leftist cripple, not of a scholar. She should be interviewed, of course. But, what in hell was she doing at Boston College all of those years? She should never have risen above student status. What citizens have we been creating with all of these Mary Dalys honored as “a world recognized theologian”.
You wonder why our government and culture are so screwed up today? Keep in mind that thosands upon thousands of Mary Dalys have matriculated and are matriculating through American colleges and universities by way of their departments or Colleges of Women’ Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, and Black Studies every year.
Do you think their hates have been tended too? Should they be? We are supposed to tolerate the Mary Daly deep thinkers who preach that ‘men have nothing to offer but doo-doo’, but then why do women and their lefty allies, fizz into a faint if the same might be said at university, by a tenured professor that the human female has “ nothing to offer but doo-doo?’…..and, by the way, history rather clearly indicates that the truer of the statements is the latter……if Mary Daly’s statement were ever of any real matter.
I would never have contaminated my university with a Mary Daly. The purpose of the university is to seek truth and teach as close to what is truth as one and society can. Should porn and degradation be taught because it exists in society?…..Should one offer ‘Murder 101′ at you corner college especially one called St. Margaret’s?
Such issues should NEVER be left solely in the hands of administrators of so-called institutions of higher learning. They can participateand recommend, but never should dictate. It is time for review of what they do do at your today’s American places of ‘learning’.
Not only do these people become teachers, they become Democrats,
Filed under: American Culture, Arts and Entertainment, Education, Foreign Affairs and News, Marxism, National Politics | Leave a Comment »