Facts about Mary Daly
Mary Daly Biography
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. Her most famous book was 1973’s Beyond God the Father.
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 Boston College 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.
Her other books include 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 Boston College was litigious at the end, with the college claiming she had agreed to retire and Daly implying she was being forced out.