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The Burning Times Revisited: Rekindling Feminist Fires

General Assembly 2001 Event 3032

Sponsor: Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation

Renowned radical feminist Mary Daly shared readings from her forthcoming book, Amazon Grace: A 21st Century Radical Feminist Adventure, outlining the extreme danger for all life on this planet. For women to survive and thrive in this desperate time in history, our "outsider" perspective must be heard.

Over two hundred people crowded into a room with only 150 seats to hear the noted feminist scholar Mary Daly. Her theme was courage, and its importance to women. Early on, she made the provocative statement that one form of courage that women needed was the courage to sin and to sin big, because to sin is to be.

At some points the room was rocked with laughter and cheers for some of Daly's propositions. At other points Daly encouraged the participants in their jeers and boos of the ideas and societal structures she held up for examination and ridicule.

A lot of the laughter was generated by "definitions" from her book, Websters' First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language, such as: "ACADEMENTIA (n): the normal state of persons in academia, marked by varying and progressive degrees; irreversible deterioration of faculties of intellectuals."

She also spoke about some of her other books, such as her most recent one, Quintessence, as well as about her older books Gyn/Ecology.

Daly then moved on to briefly summarize her experiences at Boston College and the recent settlement reached in the discrimination suit she brought against them. She reminisced about the college's first attempt to fire her 1969 after the publication of her first book, The Church and the Second Sex. She was reinstated after some four months of protests by students.

More recently, she decided to teach women-only classes (and had done so for twenty-plus years), but had previously accommodated male students separately who had met the prerequisites that required previous women's studies courses. The suit has been settled in Daly's favor, but she is no longer associated with Boston College. She humorously described her new status as "Professor-at-Large."

In her concluding remarks, Daly returned to her initial theme of courage by saying that you learn "courage by couraging" just as you learn to swim by swimming, to walk by walking, and to write by writing.

She spent the final portion of her presentation describing her plans for her new book. With a tentative title of Amazon Days, described as being on "radical ecological feminism," she said she expects to explore what she sees as the atrocities of genetic engineering, leading to "headless, gutless, featherless things" that will be grown on "pharms" rather than "farms."

Reported by Lynn Calvin.