Filed By Kate Clinton | January 07, 2010 8:00 AM | comments
Filed in: Living Tags: Amazon, Beyond God the Father, Kate Clinton, Mary Daly, Pure Lust
I'll miss my hero Mary Daly. Have you read her books "Beyond God the Father," "Gyn/Ecology," "Pure Lust," or "Amazon Grace?"
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Going with the pirate metaphor, Daly felt women like me should walk the plank. I'm not grieving for her.
Indeed, Daly was controversial on many levels, but she was also very influential for many lesbians who came of age and organized during the late 1960's through the 1970's (including my sister and many of her pals).
I disagreed with Daly on many things - eventually my sister came to reject some Daly's ideas, too. But, Kate's quote highlights where Daly was so right. Thanks for the great quote, Kate.
Yeah, I guess if she made some cis folks feel good, then it doesn't really matter if she called people like me Frankenstein's monsters and influenced a generation of feminists to consider us freaks and enemies. Oh, and that for life on earth to continue, men should be culled out of the species.
I bet she made the trains run on time, too!
Liz Highleyman wrote a great obit in the BAR which you might find interesting.
Thanks, Susan - great link.
Sas, I realize Daly was very provocative. But Gyn/Ecology is a brilliant critical reading. As well as a beautifully poetic one. Whether one agrees with her or not - she was trying to turn centuries (millenia?) of patriarchal thought on its 'head'. As a man I found her challenging, even threatening. Trying to decipher where my place was in this new locale of language, sexual politic (to use a 70s term), gender. But that challenge was essential to me in the long run. Suffice to say, I admired her work.
WTF? So if someone is eloquent enough, it's OK for them to present hate speech? It's OK for her to call trans women monsters as long as she says it pretty enough? That's all cool with you as long as she has a high-minded goal?
Screw that. And people wonder why trans people seem so pissed off all the time.
Amazon Grace was Daly's final look backwards at Feminism. It is worth the read, as she pointed the weakensses and dangers of the separatist model, how it came to be exclusory rather than inclusive, and how it became a heirarchal emulation fo the patriarchy complete with dismissive disdain and exploitation of those outsside of the inner circle. This was what generated the remarks on transssexuals, and she, in a conversation in her final years, regretted the position that she took.
Still, there is not a woman alive, cis or trans, who did not benefit from Mary Daly's angry, over the top and outrageous advocacy.
"she, in a conversation in her final years, regretted the position that she took."
That seems like a pretty soft, carefully worded statement. I don't care what she told people in private when what she said in public created so much damage (both her own and her mentorship of Janice Raymond).
If she publicly renounced her prior position on trans people and apologized, then I'm interested in hearing about it. Otherwise, that's just making excuses.
1 “The Dionysian solution for women, which is violation of our own Hag-ocratic boundaries, is The Final Solution.”
2 “Dionysus sometimes assumed a girl-like form. The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face,” he incorporates the oppressed role without being incorporated in it. In the phenomenon of transsexualism, the incorporation/confusion is deeper. As ethicist Janice Raymond has pointed out, the majority of transsexuals are “male to female,” while transsexed females basically function as tokens, and are used by the rulers of the transsexual empire to hide the real nature of the game. In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale).”
3 “All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”
4 “Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.”
5 “Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Transsexual involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light – a Tranny!”
6 "WIE: ...The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.” What do you think about this statement?
MD: I think it’s not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.” "
Which of these are from Mary Daly, and which are quotes (with 1 or 2 words changed) from "My Struggle"?
1, 3, and 5 are Hitler. Am I right?
And Zoe, this is really unfair. Daly did not write public policy, Daly wrote in hyperbole, an attempt, and alas an Americanisation of Irigaray's attempt to find an emotional language of women.
Daly herself decried the literal translation into structural hierarchies of her hyperbole.
The comparasion of Dr Daly to the Nazis is over the top. Thr trans community's whosale condemnation of Dr Daly for a thirty some year old position whose philosophical basis is repudiated in her last work, as well as the dismissal of her conversational repudiation is harsh at best and rigidly dogmatic at worsr.
Like it or not, all women, all women, benefitted from Dr Daly's smashing at the patriarchy. Like it or not, Mary Daly's outrageous attacks upon said patriarchy had an impact upon trans people in terms of criteria for surgery and a break away from the cookie cutter Donna Reed clones that male physicians playing God by creating women in the image of their own fantasies imposed as selection criteria for candidates for transition.
Lesbian consciousness is shaped by feminism, and though I do not subscribe to Dr Daly's beliefs(the closest that she came to my philosophy of feminism was in Amazon Grace, her last work) I can recognise the good that she did as well as her flaws and shortcomings. In Amazon Grace, she reached a far more inclusive model of feminism. She grew. She grew wiser.
In her early works, she wrote in hyperbole, fighting against existing structures, fighting against ingrained pre-conceptions. It worked.
We can decline to accept all of Mary Daly's premises, particularly her early declarations which she herself examines in a calmer light in A.G., and still recognise her as a gant figure in modern Lesbianisn in America as well as modern feminism.
I can disagree with some of her early premises, I can deplore some of her careless and harmful hyperbole, but I cannot renounce the effect that Mary Daly had and will always have upon feminism and the Lesbian portion of the LGBT, sisterhood, Goddess-consciousness, rejection of the language, strictures and heirarchy of the patriarchy.
Every woman benefits, now and throughout the future. And all of our lives are in fact richer for Mary Daly.
Take the good, discard the flawed, and make yourself richer for her thought.
What's the non-hyperbolic reading of transition doctors as "sons of Frankenstein" and trans women as leading artificial necrotic lives as eunuch sleeper agents for the patriarchy? When you tone down the hyperbole, where is it exactly that that becomes "trans women are A-OK!"?
"as well as the dismissal of her conversational repudiation is harsh at best and rigidly dogmatic at worsr."
If this "conversational repudiation" is regarding her alleged recanting of her transphobia in private conversation (shades of the Lady Hope story), then there's nothing harsh about it. No one buys that because it's ludicrus and no one would accept that in any other situation.
If she didn't want to leave this legacy for herself, telling someone in private about it is NOT the way to go about it. She could have said it in a publicly-published interview, or recanted in a chapter of one of her later books. If you have a cite for where she did that, then I'd be glad to see it; contrary to what you might think, trans people don't get joy out of having to fight back against this kind of thing.
Well, I feel badly that many feel that they cannot reach beyond and join in the community of women in appreciating the good in Mary Daly's work.
Fortunately, in the end and in history, her feminist sisters will have the last word on her life.
No citation of her publicly recanting, huh? I'm beyond shocked.
Thankfully, not all cis-feminist sisters agree with you about Daly's holiness, so I wouldn't count on being able to erase the embarrassment.
Enough do SAS, certainly those of my generation. Women of substance and position.
As for her critique of the effects of the philosophy underlying and responsible for her early positions on trans people, read Amazon Grace Sas. It is well worth persuing in detail.
And when I see the trans community consign Virgina Prince to the dustbin of history for the misogyny towards women, and demeaning of surgical tracked members of the trans community, and condemn the caricaturisation of women by darg performers then I will accept that attacks upon Daly are something other than rank hypocrisy
In my experience, women of substance don't start aggressively asserting their privilege whenever a minority group takes issue with their idols.
Peace, then SAS, an do consider reading Amazon Grace
Considering TGs have been calling my corrected body a false construct and women of histories corrected genitals mutilated crotches, inverted penises, faux vaginas......I hardly feel anyone transgender identified has any right to condemn Daly without condemning themselves.
Considering that in the past two weeks someone started a blog with an entry about me that says because of my muddled up genetics my mind is mush, that I am thus a frankenstein monster and then goes on to post a picture of me (violating the copyright in the process) and then state you should feel pity for my rapist.....and this blog is IDed as a transgender one.....
On this alone the wholesale bashing of Daly and recently all second wave feminists by trans activists is so far over the top as to drive a wedge forever with feminist women. Second wave feminist refers to a time period, not some monolithic blog of feminist thinking. It spans the housewife liberation to the radical lesbian separatists and the sex positive and sex negative schools just to scratch the surface.
If you do not know anything about feminism, if your "sisters" attack the female bodied, woman identified you claim the right to speak for and are part of your construct then you have zero moral position to slam Daly. You are tarred with the brush of gynophobia, mysogyny. Remove the entire Levitetown ranch house (a bit more than a beam) from your own eyes before you comment on the mote in Daly's eye.
Any person that would make such comments about your anatomy and surgical correction is a disgusting bigot, and that includes any transgender activist who would say that, and Mary Daly as well (since she was saying all these things about women of transsexual history, not transgenders).