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Received: by CIOS Mailer; Wednesday 3 Mar 1999 10:05:22
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 99 08:58 -0400
To: "Multiple recipients of GENDER"
From: karla-tonella at uiowa.edu
Subject: Mary Daly story from Washington Post
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from the Washington Post
=46eminist Teacher Prefers All-Woman Class
Renowned radical feminist philosopher Mary Daly believes Boston College has
deprived her "of my right to teach freely." (AP Photo)
By Pamela Ferdinand
Special to The Washington Post
=46riday, February 26, 1999; Page A1
BOSTON, Feb. 26 - Putting her career on the line, a renowned feminist
philosopher at Boston College is refusing to accept two male students for a
course called "Introduction to Feminist Ethics."
Mary Daly, a 70-year-old tenured associate professor and self-described
radical, contends the young men's presence would be distracting and
disruptive to female students engaged in emotional and intellectual
feminist debates. In the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s, when she began
teaching at the Jesuit college, Daly refuses to back down, opting for a
leave of absence in the face of an ultimatum from the administration: Teach
men along with women or stop teaching.
"Boston College has wronged me and my students by caving in to right-wing
pressure and depriving me of my right to teach freely and depriving them of
the opportunity to study with me," she said today in a telephone interview.
"I choose to stand my ground."
A pioneer in the field of feminist theology and philosophy, Daly has
written seven books, all of them used as texts in universities. They range
from "The Church and the Second Sex," and "Beyond God the Father: Toward a
Philosophy of Women's Liberation," to "Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of
Radical Feminism," "Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage" and, most
recently, "Quintessence . . . Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical
Elemental Feminist Manifesto." She has also written a dictionary for wicked
"To me, the root of the mess in society is patriarchy," she said. "What I'm
trying to do is get at the core of what oppresses women."
According to college officials, two students claim discrimination, alleging
that Daly escorted them out of her classroom last semester with the ominous
words: "You are not welcome here." Neither of the students could be reached
One, a senior who belongs to the campus Republican club, received the
backing of the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative
Washington-based law firm. But college officials say a lawsuit is unlikely
because they share the students' concerns and have every intention of
complying with Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law designed to
ensure both genders have the same higher education opportunities.
The controversy here comes just weeks after Dartmouth College announced it
may require that fraternities open their doors to women. But instead of "no
men-only," the refrain at Boston College is "no women-only."
In both cases, the message is consistent with a growing unwillingness at
universities and other institutions across the country to accept single-sex
organizations or groups such as men-only clubs. Radcliffe College, for
instance, is now reviewing its policies and considering whether to admit
male research fellows to its prestigious Bunting Institute for the first
time in 39 years - even though it has never received any complaints.
"It's a fairness issue. It's a righteousness issue," said Boston College
spokesman Jack Dunn. "And most important, it's a legal issue involving
While widely respected for her scholarship, students said Daly is
considered a perpetual thorn in the side of the college administration, as
much for her radical feminist theories as for her views on Catholicism.
Throughout her career, she has occasionally taken leaves to find shelter
from similar storms. Male students protested their exclusion from her
classroom in 1979 and 1989. Yet after a period away from the classroom, she
managed in both instances to quietly return to her all-female domain, with
a slap on the wrist.
She insists she is not a man-hater and laughs at the mere thought of it. In
fact, she taught only men when she first arrived on the suburban Newton
campus in 1966 - women were admitted only in 1970 - and she fondly
recollects how 1,500 men demonstrated on her behalf when she was denied
tenure in 1969.
She has offered roughly a dozen male students one-on-one instruction in the
years since the college went coeducational. However, she said the senior
who wanted to take her class this time had not completed a prerequisite
course and clearly had a political agenda.
"I'd rather go on leave than teach with him," she said. "The last thing
he'd have an interest in is feminist philosophy."
=46ourteen students reportedly signed a letter of support sent to college
administrators earlier this month. "I think there comes a point where women
need to claim their own space," Kate Heekin, a senior from Greenwich,
Conn., told The Associated Press. "If that needs to be a classroom, so be
Others disagree, noting that recent court decisions, including the
elimination of race preferences at Boston Latin School, have further
heightened sensitivity to equity issues.
=A9 Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
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