Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Mary Daly was one of the most important and influential voices of the radical feminist movement in the United States. The only child of working-class, Irish-Catholic parents, Daly grew up with a strong sense of her ethnic and religious heritage. As a young woman, she developed a passionate desire to become a philosopher and a theologian. Encouraged by her parents, and especially by her mother, Daly pursued her intellectual dream, receiving her Ph.D. in religion at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 1953, at the age of twenty-five. Still yearning for a doctorate in philosophy, Daly applied to the University of Notre Dame but was denied entrance because she was a woman.
Undaunted, she traveled overseas to Switzerland in 1959. By 1963 she had completed a doctorate of sacred theology at the University of Fribourg; two years later, in 1965, she completed a third doctorate in philosophy. Armed with enviable academic credentials deserving of respect from even her most skeptical male peers, Daly returned to the United States in 1966 to begin her career as a writer, teacher, and scholar.
Daly began her teaching career in the Department of Theology at Boston College, a Jesuit institution. Following the publication of The Church and the Second Sex, which contained a harsh analysis of the Catholic Church’s treatment of women, Daly was terminated from her position at Boston College. She became a cause célèbre as students protested...
(The entire section is 947 words.)
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Biography (Women's Issues (Ready Reference series))
Mary Daly’s feminist views and writings have earned her both respect and censure. Early in her academic career, after the publication of The Church and the Second Sex (1968), Boston College fired her for such statements as, “[A] woman’s asking for equality in the church would be comparable to a black person’s demanding equality in the Ku Klux Klan.” Although student protests led to her reinstatement and tenure, the experience resulted in Daly’s radicalization and prompted her to see the universal condition of women in patriarchal institutions.
Daly’s writings, such as Beyond God the Father (1974), explore misogyny in religion in conjunction with the antiwoman attitudes pervasive in society. In Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage (1992), she describes her battle against “the demons of assimilation,” as well as “the demonic forces of elimination, who/which erase women’s histories and our very lives, . . . [and] the demonic forces of fragmentation, which cut women off from our true Present and from our Presence to our Selves and to each Other.”
Much of Daly’s focus has been on the power of language and the need for a woman-identified, nonpatriarchal language women can use to describe and “Re-member” female experience and wisdom. In such works as Gyn/Ecology (1978), Pure Lust (1984), and Webster’s First New...
(The entire section is 488 words.)