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Mary Daly

Controversial Feminist Thealogian


About Mary Daly:

Known for: increasingly strong critique of patriarchy in religion and society; dispute with Boston College over admission of men to her classes on feminist ethics

Occupation: feminist theologian, thealogian, philospher, post-Christian, "radical feminist Pirate" (her description)

Dates: October 16, 1928 -

More About Mary Daly:

Mary Daly, raised in a Catholic home and sent to Catholic schools throughout her childhood, pursued philosophy and then theology in college. When Catholic University would not permit her, as a woman, to study theology for a doctorate, she found a small women's college that did offer a Ph.D. in theology.

After working for a few years as an instructor at Cardinal Cushing College, Daly went to Switzerland to study theology there, and get another Ph.D. While pursuing her degrees at the University of Fribourg, she taught in the Junior Year Abroad program for American students.

Returning to the United States, Mary Daly was hired as an assistant professor of theology by Boston College. Controversy followed publication of her 1968 book, The Church and the Second Sex: Towards a Philosoph of Women's Liberation, and the college tried to fire Mary Daly, but were forced to re-hire her when presented a student petition signed by 2,500.

Mary Daly was promoted to associate professor of theology in 1969, a tenured position. As her books moved her further and further outside the circle of Catholicism and Christianity, the college denied Daly promotions to full professor in 1974 and again in 1989.

The college objected to Daly's policy of refusing to admit men to her feminist ethics classes, though she offered to teach men individually and privately. She received five warnings about this practice from the college. In 1999, a suit on behalf of senior Duane Naquin, backed by the Center for Individual Rights, led to her dismissal. After fighting dismissal as a violation of her tenure, Daly settled out of court with Boston College and did not return to teaching, officially ending her professorship there in 2001.

Mary Daly published her account of this fight in her 2006 book, Amazing Grace: Re-calling the Courage to Sin Big.

Background, Family:

  • Father: Frank X. Daly
  • Mother: Anna Catherine Daly


  • Catholic schools through high school
  • St. Rose, B.A., 1950
  • Catholic University, M.A., 1942
  • St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, Ph.D., theology, 1954
  • University of Fribourg, S.T.D., 1963; Ph.D. 1965


  • 1952-54: St. Mary's College, visiting lecturer, English
  • 1954-59: Cardinal Cushing College, Brookline, MA, instructor in philosophy and theology
  • 1959-66: Fribourg University, Junior Year Abroad program for American students, teacher, philosphy and theology
  • 1966-1969: Boston College, assistant professor
  • 1969-2001: Boston College, associate professor of theology

Religion: Roman Catholic, post-Christian, radical feminist


  • 1966: Natural Knowledge of God in the Philosophy of Jacques Maritan
  • 1968: The Church and the Second Sex: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation
  • 1973: Beyond god the Father
  • 1975: Rape Culture, a screenplay with Emily Culpeper
  • 1978: Gyn/Ecology: the Metaethics of Radical Feminism
  • 1984: Pure Lust: Elemental Philosophy
  • 1987: Webster's First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language with Jane Caputi
  • 1992: Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage: Containing Recollections from My Logbook as a Radical Feminist Philosopher
  • 1998: Quintessence: Realizing the Outrageous, Contagious Courage of Women
  • 2006: Amazing Grace: Re-calling the Courage to Sin Big

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