Mary Daly

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Mary Daly (October 16, 1928January 3, 2010) was an American radical feminist philosopher, academic, author and theologian.

Women who lust for wisdom become astonished/ astonishing, Wondering. As Muses of our own creation, Wonderlusters re-member our Original Powers. Unlike the frozen 'philosophy' that is packaged and stored within academic refrigerators, Wonderlust moves us always. Our vehicles are often Metaphors. Our destinations are Realms of Metabeing.


  • The 'self-transcending immanence,' the sense of giving birth to ourselves, the sense of power of being within, which is being affirmed by many women, does not seem to be denoted, imaged adequately pointed to, or perhaps even associated with the term 'God'. p. 208
    • "The Qualitative Leap Beyond Patriarchal Religion." Quest 1 (Spr 1975)
  • The word ‘radical’ means ‘going to the roots’. It is derived from the Latin radix, meaning root. Radical Feminism goes to the root of oppression and the way out. And I define it as “way of being characterised by (a) an Awesome and Ecstatic sense of Otherness from patriarchal norms and values (b) conscious awareness of the sadosociety’s sanctions against Radical Feminists (c) moral outrage on behalf of women as women (d) commitment to the cause of women that persists, even against the current, when feminism is no longer ‘popular’; in other words, constancy.
  • To be a Radical Feminist now is to do quantum leaping. That means to act with fantastic courage because you see real hope now, not lovely little lah-didah hope (a very contained hope), but really great Hope for participation in Quintessence, which is the harmony of the universe.

Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (1973)

  • (Women's Liberation) ... is an ontological, spiritual revolution, pointing beyond the idolatries of sexist society and sparking creative action in and toward transcendence. The becoming of women implies universal human becoming. It has everything to do with the search for ultimate meaning and reality which some would call God. p. 6
  • To exist humanly is to name the self, the world, and God. The 'method' of the evolving spiritual consciousness of women is nothing less than this beginning to speak humanly - a reclaiming of the right to name. p. 8
  • The first step in the elevation of women under all systems of religion is to convince them that the great Spirit of the Universe is in no way responsible for any of these absurdities. (Stanton, quoted on p. 13)
  • 'God' can be used oppressively against women in a number of ways…[one way is by an] overt manner when theologians proclaim women's subordination to be God's will. The symbol of the Father God, spawned in the human imagination and sustained as plausible by patriarchy, has in turn rendered service to this type of society by making its mechanisms for the oppression of women appear right and fitting. If God in "his" heaven is a father ruling "his" people, then it is in the "nature" of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated.
  • The correspondence between the minds of Musing women and the intelligible structures of reality is rooted in our promise, that is, our potential and commitment to evolve, unfold 'together,' in harmony with each other and with all Elemental reality. p. 163
  • I suggest that the rejection of ontological final causality ... has often really been a kind of metaphysical rebellion, even on the part of those philosophers who have been most disdainful of metaphysics. It has been an effort to overthrow the tyranny of the allegedly 'supernatural end' that seemed to block the dynamics of thought and action. But this 'block' was often a shallow and reified conception of the final cause. When those doing the rejecting have had no deep awareness of the dynamism in being, that is of the ontological force of final causality, the reified Block has not wholly disappeared. It has tended to reappear in various ways. pp. 186-187
  • It requires a kick in the imagination, a wrenching of tired words, to realize that feminism is the final and therefore the first cause, and that this movement is movement. Realization of this is already the beginning of a qualitative leap in be-ing. For the philosophers of senescence 'the final cause' is in technical reason; it is the Father's plan, an endless flow of Xerox copies of the past. But the final cause that is movement is in our imaginative-cerebral-emotional-active-creative be-ing. p. 190

The Church and the Second Sex. With the Feminist Postchristian (1975) Introduction

  • Today, in the light of feminist philosophy of Be-ing, we are aware of the deep connection between women's becoming and the unfolding of cosmic process which some would still call 'God'. p. 18
  • The question that comes to my mind is, 'What sense does it make to assert that in Christ "There is neither male nor female"? ... But that is the point: it could not mean anything on earth, where there definitely were and are females and males and where that distinction has been overemphasized and distorted, especially in the church. p 22
  • Briefly, if God is male, then the male is God. p. 38
  • Women discovering self-actualization in sisterhood in 1975 ... rarely talk of 'partnership' with men, since this term seems to imply ... as if we could glimpse nothing more desirable than an equal slice of the patriarchal pie." p. 41
  • There is no small irony in the fact that during an age in which opinion of women was so low, some of them were, in fact, members of the hierarchy, whereas in a later and more enlightened age, when the Church itself is urging them to take a more active part in public life, they are completely excluded from the hierarchy. p. 90
  • If women's subordination were really so 'natural,' it would not be necessary to insist so strongly upon it. It would seem that people would not have to be told authoritatively to behave 'naturally. p. 116-117
  • ...that dream world which is precisely the 'metaphysical world of woman,' the ideal, static woman, who is so much less troublesome than the real article... For the celibate who prefers not to be tied down to a wife, or whose canonical situation forbids marriage, the 'Mary' of his imagination could appear to be the ideal spouse. p. 161

Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (1978–1990)

Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, pbk. [1st printing? printing of [19]90?] 1978 & 1990 (prob. all content except New Intergalactic Introduction 1978 & prob. New Intergalactic Introduction 1990) ISBN 0-8070-1413-3 (New Intergalactic Introduction is separate from Introduction: The Metapatriarchal Journey of Exorcism and Ecstasy)
  • Hags live. Women traveling into feminist time/space are creating Hag-ocracy, the place we govern. To govern is to steer, to pilot.
    • p. 15.
  • [W]omen under phallocratic rule are confined to the role of vessels/carriers, directed and controlled by men. Since that role is the basic base reversal of the very be-ing of Voyaging/Spiraling women, when we direct our own Crafts/Vessels we become reversers of that deadly reversal.
    • p. xxvi (New Intergalactic Introduction).
  • The … false ideal … [that is] tokenism—which is commonly guised as Equal Rights, and which yields token victories—deflects and shortcircuits gynergy, so that female power, galvanized under deceptive slogans of sisterhood, is swallowed by The Fraternity. This method of vampirizing the Female Self saps women by giving illusions of partial success while at the same time making Success appear to be a far-distant, extremely difficult to obtain "elusive objective." When the oppressed are worn out in the game of chasing the elusive shadow of Success, some "successes" are permitted to occur—"victories" which can easily be withdrawn when the victim's energies have been restored. Subsequently, women are lured into repeating efforts to regain the hard-won apparent gains.... [¶] Thus tokenism is insidiously destructive of sisterhood, for it distorts the warrior aspect of Amazon bonding both by magnifying it and by minimizing it. It magnifies the importance of "fighting back" to the extent of making it devour the transcendent be-ing of sisterhood, reducing it to a copy of comradeship. At the same time, it minimizes the Amazon warrior aspect by containing it, misdirecting and shortcircuiting the struggle.
  • This is a demonically double-sided trap, for of course reforms, such as legalization of abortion, aid many women in desperate situations. However, because the "changes" that are achieved are victories in a vacuum, that is, in a totally oppressive social context, they do not essentially free the Female Self but instead function to hide both the fact of continuing oppression and the possibilities for better options and for more radical freedom.... The Labrys of the A-mazing Female Mind must cut through the coverings of these double-sided/multiple-sided situations, dis-covering the context, identifying the more radical problems, yet neglecting none.
    • pp. 375–376 (fnn. omitted, fn. at "apparent gains." giving as examples the Equal Rights Amendment, affirmative action, and abortion & fn. at "more radical freedom." stating "the fact that Lesbians/Spinsters have no need of abortions, unless forcibly raped").
  • Hags do not haggle over "equality," for we know there is no equality among unique Selves. Noting that one definition of the term equal is "capable of meeting the requirements of a situation or a task," Jan Raymond observes that what each asks of the other is that she be equal to the task at hand.... Crones expect and en-courage each other to become sister pyrotechnists, building the fire that is fueled by Fury, the fire that warms and lights the place where we can each have a loom of our own, where we can spin and weave the tapestries of Crone-centered creation.
    • p. 384.
  • As a creative crystallizing of the movement beyond the state of Patriarchal Paralysis, this book is an act of Dis-possession; and hence, in a sense beyond the limitations of the label anti-male, it is absolutely Anti-androcrat, A-mazingly Anti-male, Furiously and Finally Female.
    • p. 29.
  • I hope that in its richness, as well as in its incompleteness, Gyn/Ecology will continue to be a Labrys enabling women to learn from our mistakes and our successes, and cast our Lives as far as we can go, Now, in the Be-Dazzling Nineties.
    • p. xxxiii (New Intergalactic Introduction).

Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (1984)

  • Women who lust for wisdom become astonished/astonishing, Wondering. As Muses of our own creation, Wonderlusters re-member our Original Powers. Unlike the frozen 'philosophy' that is packaged and stored within academic refrigerators, Wonderlust moves us always. Our vehicles are often Metaphors. Our destinations are Realms of Metabeing. p. 26
  • The word Metabeing is used here to Name Realms of active participation in the Powers of Be-ing. Be-ing, the Verb, cannot without gross falsification be reified into a noun, whether that noun be identified as 'Supreme Being,' or 'God,' or 'Goddess' (singular or plural). When I choose to use such words as Goddess it is to point Metaphorically to the Powers of Be-ing, the Active Verb in whose potency all biophilic reality participates. p. 26
  • Several meanings of the word Elemental converge for the conjuring of Elemental feminist philosophy. An 'obsolete' definition is 'material, physical.' The philosophy here unfolded is material/physical as well as spiritual, mending/transcending this deceptive dichotomy. p 11
  • Physical ultimacy suggests the possibility of relations with others as well as with one's Self that are far-reaching, demanding that we stretch our physical, imaginative, psychic powers beyond the limitations that have been imposed upon them. p. 80
  • Lusty women can reclaim the name Archimage, Naming the fact that she is the Witch within our Selves. She is a verb, and she is verbal - a Namer, a Speaker- the Power within who can Name away the archetypes that block the ways/words of Metabeing. Archimage is a Metaphoric form of Naming the one and the many. She is power/powers of be-ing within women and all biophilic creatures. She points toward Metabeing, in which all Witches/Hags/Weirds participate, and in which we live, move, and have our be-ing pp. 86-87
  • The inspiring, moving reality of final causality- the centralizing force/focus within the Self and within all be-ing - is spirit-force. This becomes inaccessible, or 'out of sight,' when the spiritual/philosophical imagination is dried up and reasoning banalized, routinized, reduced to the elementary realm. p. 155
  • The symbol, God as Verb, was an essential step in my intellectual process to the Metaphor, Goddess as Verb. Often feminists try to eliminate this step, with the unfortunate result that 'The Goddess' functions as a static symbol, simply replacing the noun God. In writing Beyond God the Father, I also used the expression Power of Be-ing to refer to ultimate/ intimate reality. This emphasized the Verb, but I now think that it gives less than adequate emphasis to the multiple aspects of transcendence. I therefore now use the plural, Powers of Be-ing.
    ...Some feminists, with good reason, prefer to use the singular name, The Goddess. Others, also with good reasons, prefer to speak of Goddesses. Although the latter choice is motivated by understanding of the necessity for, and fact of, multiplicity and diversity in symbols/metaphors of the Goddess, there is, it seems to me, an unresolved problem, if one ignores the principle ofunity: the One. When Be-ing is understood as Verb, the focus of the discussion changes. It would be foolish to speak of 'Be-ings.' But women can and do speak of different Powers and manifestations of Be-ing, which are sometimes imaged as Goddesses. p. 423


  • The work of self-described "post-Christian" radical feminist theologian Mary Daly, author of the 1968 volume The Church and the Second Sex, convinced many Christian women's liberationists that they needed to separate from a hopelessly patriarchal church and create their own religious practices. Daly's 1973 Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation further influenced feminist spiritual seekers.
    • Joyce Antler Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2020)
  • Mary Daly gave us the origin of the words "hag" and "haggard," among many others: "hag" meaning harpy or witch, and "haggard" meaning originally "an intractable person, especially: a woman reluctant to wooing."
    • Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
  • The idea that women's friendships are new is weird to me; I don't understand it. Some of our smartest, nicest women have written a lot about the newness of women's bonds, but Jesus, my mother and all those women, my aunts, they all hung out every Saturday talking and were such a comfort to one another and they stuck by each other so..Someone like Mary Daly doesn't even know how people live-but other women, I think they come from suburban lives or something like that, and no family. That's a certain kind of life but it's not general female life.
  • Someone like Mary Daly doesn't even know how people live-but other women, I think they come from suburban lives or something like that, and no family. That's a certain kind of life but it's not general female life.
    • 1981 interview anthologized in Conversations with Grace Paley edited by Gerhard Bach and Blaine Hall (1997)
  • Her radicalism can turn off students who have never been exposed to feminist ideas. Students learn that she excluded men from her classes since she wanted her women students to feel free to speak. Even though... she would meet with male students separately, for many she seems to embody all of the stereotypes of the man-hating feminist. Her...refusal to bend to convention, and her laser-like focus on every kind of injustice to women can alienate students who are wary of feminist ideas that sound "angry." But without righteous anger, there would be no feminism. Thomas Aquinas famously argues that if one is not angered by injustice, there is something wrong. And Daly, with her classical education, would agree. Daly taught me that one cannot smooth over or excuse misogyny, that it must be exposed and named, and that one must use everything in one's power — one's intelligence, wit and, yes, anger — to overcome it.
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