01-03-2010

Professor Mary Daly

MARY DALY, American feminist scholar and theologian, died (b: 1928); Daly taught at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution, for 33 years. In a widely reported case at the time, she was denied tenure, a development interpreted by many as a response to her book, The Church and the Second Sex.” After more than 1,500 students signed a petition supporting her – most were men, for the college did not admit women to its liberal arts division until 1970 – she was reinstated with tenure.

Daly taught classes at Boston College from 1967 to 1999, including courses in theology, feminist ethics, and patriarchy. Daly’s refusal to admit male students to some of her classes at Boston College also resulted in disciplinary action.

While Daly justified her position on the grounds that their presence inhibited class discussion, Boston College consistently reprimanded Daly, claiming that her actions were in violation of title IX of federal law requiring the College to ensure that no person was excluded from an education program on the basis of sex, and of the University’s own non-discrimination policy insisting that all courses be open to both male and female students. In 1998, a discrimination claim against the college by two male students was backed by the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative advocacy group.

Following further reprimand, Daly absented herself from classes rather than admit the male students. Boston College removed her tenure rights, citing a verbal agreement by Daly to retire. She brought suit against the College disputing violation of her tenure rights and claiming she was forced out against her will, but her request for injunction was denied by Middlesex Superior Court, Judge Martha Sosman.

An out-of-court settlement was reached in which Daly agreed that she had retired from her faculty position. However, Daly maintained that Boston College had wronged her students by depriving her of her right to teach freely.

She documented her account of the events in the 2006 book Amazon Grace. Daly protested the commencement speech of Condoleeza Rice at Boston College and continued to speak on campuses around the United States as well as internationally.

Her own description of herself was a “radical Lesbian feminist” and “post-christian” considering most, if not all, organized religion to be irreparably patriarchal.