Remembering Mary Daly

The radical feminist passes away at the age of 81

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published January 7, 2010 12:56AM (EST)

It's high time we took a moment to note the passing of a radical feminist icon: Mary Daly. The 81-year-old died at a nursing home on Sunday, after a lifetime of fearless attacks on patriarchal religions, Catholicism in particular, as well as sometimes divisive and troublesome rhetoric about men.

The publication of her groundbreaking and controversial first book, "The Church and the Second Sex," nearly got her fired from her position at Boston College, except the student body -- then all-male -- spoke out on her behalf. Her teaching career ultimately ended after 33 years when she lost an ongoing battle to ban boys from taking her classes (she taught boys privately, but felt that their presence in classrooms would discourage girls from participating).

In an e-mail today, a reader wrote to underscore the "incalculable impact" Daly had on our thinking about organized religion and said "it's hard to even remember how we thought before [her books] 'Beyond God the Father' and 'Gyn/Ecology.'" I'll leave you with this YouTube tribute video.

Photographs by Gail Bryan © 1986, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2006

Tracy Clark-Flory

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