Mary Daly is thought by many to be the most influential feminist writer. She likes to think of herselfas a philosopher but she could just as easily be described as a phenomenon. Her books including her latest. Websters' First New Intergalactic Wiekedary ofthe English Language deal with feminism at its most abstract. Unsatisfied with man-made language. [)aly has invented her own complex. often humorous. vocabulary to convey her idea of the women's movement as a quest for a transformed world - one in which it matters more to journey than arrive. A popular speaker in the USA. Mary [)aly is soon to visit Edinburgh for the first time. Sigrid Nielsen spoke to her by phone in Boston. where she is associate professor of theology at

Boston College.

How long have you been a feminist? [think [always knew I was a

but [ didn‘t always have a word for it. My parents were of Irish descent. They came from poor backgrounds. My mother wanted a girl a daughter who would get everything she had never had without being oppressed. When I tried to help her with the housework she would say. ‘[)o your own work. dear.' So [ was always encouraged to be a Self. despite difficulties from the ('atholic church and outside. [ had a sense of injustice about women. 'l‘hen there was this great desire to be



ever since.

[went through a peeling away process in order to become a feminist. When I published my first book. The (‘hurch and the Second Sex. in 1968. l was arguing for reform. [ was fired from my teaching job at Boston (‘ollege as a result and [ realised that it wasn‘t just their rules that were wrong. After months ofdemonstrations. l was rehired and got tenure and I‘ve been harassed

Did those changes influence your ideas of feminism as a journey?


a philosopher. [wasn‘t pious. I never wanted to be a mm or a priest. [got a doctorate in theology out of intellectual curiosity and another in philosophy. But these days 1 would say to women. ‘(iet out of the church. and get out of medicine these are professions with nothing


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Oh sure. My own life has been a journey of extreme risks. My parents left school at ages [3 and Ill wanted to be a philosopher- and l was brought up in a ('atholic ghetto where no woman was supposed to think her own thoughts.

Why did you change your style and language so radically when you wrote your best-known book, Syn/Ecology? [met a lot ofother women and when [wrote I was making wild connections. spinning ideas. [see the Mary [)aly from before that time as a quaint foresister. When (iyn Ecology was published in 197‘) l was terrified. I thought no one would read it. But women were absolutely ready for it. It had something they turned out to be longing for.

How did you react?

It didn't change my life. I was asked to a lot of speaking

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engagements. l was running all over and [ really enjoyed that. But it wasn't easy to describe a book like that. one about atrocities. over and over.

00 you ever worry about that emphasis? Doesn't it seem to lead to aggressive attitudes that aren't very different from patriarchal attitudes?

Aggression isn’t a problem for women. l’assivity is a problem. Worrying about women’s aggression is like worrying that an ant might be too rough on an elephant. My writings aren’t only about oppression - they're about bonding between women as an ecstatic experience. And there's humour involved as well. When you see through patriarchal males— like Ronald Reagan they’re hilarious.

l‘v"el)sters" First New Intergalactic Wickedary ofthe English Language is published by the Women 's Press at £7. ()5. Mary Daly will be appearing at the South Side ( 'ommanity ('entre. ll7 Nicholson Square. Edinburgh. at 8pm on Saturday. 2.? April. 'I'iekets are [3 and £1.50 and are available from West & Wilde Bookshop. 25a [)andas Street ((131 556 ()079), or at the door.

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