Mary Daly feminism - GYN\/ECOLOGY THE METAETHICS OF RADICAL FEMINISM MARY DALY Beacon Press Boston 1978 N.B Transcript omits footnotes and citations

Mary Daly feminism - GYN/ECOLOGY THE METAETHICS OF...

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Unformatted text preview: GYN/ECOLOGY THE METAETHICS OF RADICAL FEMINISM MARY DALY Beacon Press : Boston : 1978 N.B. Transcript omits footnotes and citations. PREFACE This book voyages beyond Beyond God the Father. It is not that I basically disagree with the ideas expressed there. I am still its author, and thus the situation is not comparable to that of The Church and the Second Sex, whose (1968) author I regard as a reformist foresister, and whose work I respectfully refute in the New Feminist Postchristian Introduction to the 1975 edition. Going beyond Beyond God the Father involves two things. First, there is the fact that be-ing continues. Be-ing at home on the road means continuing to Journey. This book continues to Spin on, in other directions/dimensions. It focuses beyond christianity in Other ways. Second, there is some old semantic baggage to be discarded so that Journeyers will be unencumbered by malfunctioning (male-functioning) equipment. There are some words which appeared to be adequate in the early seventies, which feminists later discovered to be false words. Three such words in BGTF which I cannot use again are God, androgyny, and homosexuality. There is no way to remove male/masculine imagery from God. Thus, when writing/speaking “anthropomorphically” of ultimate reality, of the divine spark of be-ing, I now choose to write/speak gynomorphically. I do so because God represents the necrophilia of patriarchy, whereas Goddess affirms the life-loving be-ing of women and nature. The second semantic abomination, androgyny, is a confusing term which I sometimes used in attempting to describe integrity of be-ing. The word is misbegotten – conveying something like “John Travolta and Farrah Fawcett-Majors scotch-taped together” - as I have reiterated in public recantations. The third treacherous term, homosexuality, reductionistically “includes”, that is, excludes, gynocentric being/Lesbianism. Simply rejecting these terms and replacing them with others is not what this book is about, however. The temptation/trap of mere labeling stops us from Spinning. Thus Goddess images are truthful and encouraging, but reified/objectified images of “The Goddess” can be mere substitutes for “God”, failing to convey that Be-ing is a Verb, and that She is many verbs. Again, using a term such as woman-identified rather than androgynous is an immeasurable qualitative leap, but Spinning Voyagers cannot rest with one word, for it, too, can assume a kind of paralysis if it is not accompanied by sister words/verbs. The words gynocentric be-ing and Lesbian imply separation. This is what this book is about, but not in a simple way. In BGTF I wrote: For those who are … threatened, the presence of women to each other is experienced as an absence. Such women are no longer empty receptacles to be used as “the Other”, and are no longer internalizing the projections that cut off the flow of being. Men who need such projection screens experience the power of absence of such “objects” and are thrown into the situation of perceiving nothingness … In this way, then, women's confrontation with the experience of nothingness invites men to confront it also. The primary intent of women who choose to be present to each other, however, is not an invitation to men. It is an invitation to our Selves. The Spinsters, Lesbians, Hags, Harpies, Crones, Furies who are the Voyagers of Gyn/Ecology know that we choose to accept this invitation for our Selves. This, our Selfacceptance, is in no way contingent upon male approval. Nor is it stopped by (realistic) fear of brutal acts of male revenge. As Marilyn Frye has written: Male parasitism means that males must have access to women; it is the Patriarchal Imperative. But feminist no-saying is more than a substantial removal (re-direction, re-allocation) of goods and services because access is one of the faces of power. Female denial of male access to females substantially cuts off a flow of benefits, but it has also the form and full portent of assumption of power. The no-saying to which Frye refers is a consequence of female yes-saying to our Selves. Since women have a variety of strengths and since we have all been damaged in a variety of ways, our yes-saying assumes different forms and is in different degrees. In some cases it is clear and intense; in other instances it is sporadic, diffused, fragmented. Since Female-identified yes-saying is complex participation in be-ing, since it is a Journey, a process, there is no simple and adequate way to divide the Female World into two camps: those who say “yes” to women and those who do not. The Journey of this book, therefore, is (to borrow an expression from the journal Sinister Wisdom) “for the Lesbian Imagination in All Women”. It is for the Hag/Crone/Spinster in every living woman. It is for each individual Journeyer to decide/expand the scope of this imagination within her. It is she, and she alone, who can determine how far, and in what way, she will/can travel. She, and she alone, can dis-cover the mystery of her own history, and find how it is interwoven with the lives of other women. Yes-saying by the Female Self and her Sisters involves intense work – playful cerebration. The Amazon Voyager can be anti-academic. Only at her greatest peril can she be anti-intellectual. Thus this book/Voyage can rightly be called anti-academic because it celebrates cerebral Spinning. If this book/Voyage could be placed neatly in a “field” it would not be this book. I have considered naming its “field” Un-theology or Un-philosophy. Certainly, in the house of mirrors which is the universe/university of reversals, it can be called Un-ethical. Since Gyn/Ecology is the Un-field/Ourfield/Outfield of Journeyers, rather than a game in an “in” field, the pedantic can be expected to perceive it as “unscholarly”. Since it confronts old moulds/models of question-asking by being itself an Other way of thinking/speaking, it will be invisible to those who fetishize old questions – who drone that it does not “deal with” their questions. Since Gyn/Ecology Spins around, past and through the established fields, opening the coffers/coffins in which “knowledge” has been stored, re-stored, recovered, its meaning will be hidden from the Grave Keepers of tradition. Since it seeks out the threads of connectedness within artificially separated/segmented reality, striving “to put the severed parts together” , specious specialists will decry its “negativity” and “failure to present the whole picture”. Since it Spins among fields, leaping over the walls that separate the halls in which academics have incarcerated the “bodies of knowledge”, it will be accused of “lumping things together”. In fact Gyn/Ecology does not belong to any of their de-partments. It is the Department/Departure of Spinning. Since the Custodians of academic cemeteries are unable to see or hear Spinning, they will attempt to box it out or to box it in to some pre-existing field, such as basket weaving. Cemetery librarians will file and catalogue it under gynecology or female disorders. None of this matters much, however, for it is of the nature of the Departure of Spinning that it gets around. Moreover, it is of the nature of Women's Movement that we are on the move. Eventually we find each other's messages that have been deposited in the way stations are scattered in the wilderness. The cerebral Spinner can criticize patriarchal myth and scholarship because she knows it well. Her criticism has nothing to do with “jumping over” tough discipline of the mind. The A-mazing Amazon has no patience with downward mobility of the mind and imagination. She demands great effort of herself and of her sisters*1. For she must not only know the works of The Masters; she must go much further. She must see through them and make them transparent to other Voyagers as well. To borrow an expression from Virginia Woolf, she must take a “vow of derision”: By derision – a bad word, but once again the English language is much in need of new words – is meant that you must refuse all methods of advertising merit, and hold that ridicule, obscurity and censure are preferable, for psychological reasons, to fame and praise. Who and where are “the deriders”? The reader/Journeyer of this book will note that it is not addressed only to those who now call themselves members of “the women's community”. Many women who so name themselves are Journeyers, but it is also possible that some are not. It seems to me that the change in nomenclature which gradually took place in the early seventies, by which the women's movement was transformed into the women's community, was a symptom of settling for too little, of settling down, of being too comfortable. I must ask, first, just who are “the women”? Second, what about movement? This entire book is asking the question of movement, of Spinning. It is an invitation to the Wild Witch in all women who long to spin. This book is a declaration that it is time to stop putting answers before the Questions. It is a declaration/Manifesto that in our chronology (Crone-ology) it is time to get moving again. It is a call of the wild to the wild, calling Hags/Spinsters to spin/be beyond the parochial bondings/bindings of any comfortable “community”. It is a call to women who have never named themselves Wild before, and a challenge to those who have been in struggle for a long time and who have retreated for awhile. As Survivors know, the media-created Lie that the women's movement “died” has hidden the fact from many of our sisters that Spinners/Spinsters have been spinning works of genesis and demise in our concealed workshops. Feminists have been creating a rich culture, creating new forms of writing, singing, celebrating, cerebrating, searching. We have been developing new strategies and tactics for organizing – for economic, physical, and psychological survival. To do this, we have had to go deep inside our Selves. We have noted with grief that meanwhile another phenomenon has appeared in the foreground of malecontrolled society: pseudo-feminism has been actively promoted by the patriarchs. The real rebels/renegades have been driven away from positions of 1 WARNING: This book contains Big Words, even Bigger than Beyond God the Father, for it is written for big, strong women, out of respect for strength. Moreover, I've made some of them up. Therefore, it may be a stumbling block both to those who choose downward mobility of the mind and therefore hate Big Words, and to those who choose upward mobility and therefore hate New/Old Word, that is, Old words that become New when their ancient (“obsolete”) gynocentric meanings are unearthed. Hopefully, it will be a useful pathfinder for the multiply mobile: the movers, the weavers, the Spinners. patriarchally defined power, replaced by reformist and roboticized tokens. This book can be heard as a Requiem for that “women's movement”, which is male-designed, male-orchestrated, male-legitimated, male-assimilated. It is also a call to those who have been unwittingly tokenized, to tear off their mindbindings and join in the Journey. It is, hopefully, an alarm clock for those former Journeyers who have merged with “the human (men's) community”, but who can still feel nostalgia for the present/future of their own be-ing. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The task of writing “acknowledgments” becomes increasingly perplexing and ridiculous. There is no way that I can adequately name or measure the contributions of other Hags, Sisters, Spinsters, Crones, to the creation of this book. In the preface to BGTF I discuss women's oral tradition and comment: “My references to conversations are meant to be a reminder of that tradition, as well as an effort to set precedent for giving women some of the credit due to them, finally”. This whole thing has gotten out of hand, however, for five years have passed since then, and there are many more women from whom I have received encouragement and gynergy through their written communications, their conversations, their sustaining power of presence. The creation of this book has occurred in the context of a Network of Spinsters hearing forth each other to new speech. It is impossible to express all my debts. Jan Raymond has generously shared her valuable class lectures and materials and given indispensable criticisms of the manuscript. Her work has been so intertwined with my own for so long that it has often been impossible to tell whose ideas are whose. Michelle Cliff has been a witty sharer of ideas as well as an excellent copy editor. Charlotte Cecil Raymond has been such an understanding, helpful, and gracious editor that I hereby unchristen her with the honorable epithet: “Hag”. Denise Connors has been a Spinner of ideas woven into this book from its beginning. Conversations with her have sparked new visions, and these, together with the countless books and journals which “jumped off the shelf” into her hands and onto my desk affected the course of the Journey. Pat McMahon has been a truly Haggard helper, contributing beyond the bounds of justice. Jennie Cushman provided assistance when it was badly needed. Helen Gray has been a staunch and supportive sisters. Pat Green has been a true friend, whose differing perceptions are a reminder that the women's movement is not monolithic. Emily Culpepper has shared experiences of earthquakes and discoveries of new horizons as our paths have met on the Spinning Journey. To say that her criticisms have been invaluable is an understatement. Jane Caputi has been an extraordinary helper with daring and unique ideas and a gift for finding books and articles no one else would have dreamed existed. Peggy Holland has been an inspired Searcher, always providing original suggestions, including the idea for the labrys and dolphins on the jacket of this book. Eileen Barrett has been a most helpful espionage agent, contributing information from the dark recesses of medical libraries. Susan Leigh Star provided important material and insights for the manuscript in its early stages. Linda Barufaldi contributed inimitable Barufaldian comments and criticisms upon various drafts of the manuscript. Conversations with Andrée Collard have generated whole sets of ideas and images. Discussions with Fran Chelland have helped me to stay in touch with what has been sustaining to my spirit in the classic philosophical tradition. Adrienne Rich has been ineffably encouraging and enspiriting. She has helped the process of this book in ways that I cannot begin to count. Through her own work and sharing of criticism she has given the inspiration which only such a boundary-breaking poet and warrior could provide in the course of our uncommon quest for “a common language”. Nelle Morton has been a guiding spirit, reminding me always of the unutterable importance of images. She hears me forth to new speech, and because of her I can never forget that “in the beginning is the hearing”. The writing of this book required free time. The Rockefeller Foundation provided a Humanities Grant which not only enabled me to take an extensive leave of absence from teaching at Boston College, but also to do the necessary travel for this project and provide salaries for secretarial and research (search) assistants. In particular, I thank two women at the Rockefeller Foundation, Sonia Teshu and Dr D. Lydia Bronte, Associate Director of the Humanities Program, for their invaluable aid in connection with the complexities of grant procedures. I wish to express my gratitude to my foresisters whose spirits inspired me to break the barriers of silence and of sound, and to keep on writing. Among these are Matilda Joslyn Gage, Virginia Woolf, and many whose names I do not know, many of whom were probably burned as witches. Finally, in fairness, I thank my Self. INTRODUCTION THE METAPATRIARCHAL JOURNEY OF EXORCISM AND ECSTASY All mother goddesses spin and weave … Everything that is comes out of them: They weave the world tapestry out of genesis and demise, “threads appearing and disappearing rhythmically”. (Helen Diner, Mothers and Amazons) This book is about the journey of women becoming, that is, radical feminism. The voyage is described and roughly charted here. I say “roughly” by way of understatement and pun. We do not know exactly what is on the Other Side until we arrive there – and the journey is rough. The charting done here is based on some knowledge from the past, upon present experience, and upon hopes for the future. These three sources are inseparable, intertwined. Radical feminist consciousness spirals in all directions, dis-covering the past, creating/disclosing the present/future. The radical be-ing of women is very much an Otherworld Journey. It is both discovery and creation of a world other than patriarchy. Patriarchy appears to be “everywhere”. Even outer space and the future have been colonized. As a rule, even the more imaginative science-fiction writers (allegedly the most foretelling futurists) cannot/will not create a space and time in which women get far beyond the role of space stewardess. Nor does this colonization exist simply “outside” women's minds, securely fastened into institutions we can physically leave behind. Rather, it is also internalized, festering inside women's heads, even feminist heads. The Journey, then, involves exorcism of the internalized Godfather in his various manifestations (his name is legion). It involves dangerous encounters with these demons. Within the christian tradition, particularly in medieval times, evil spirits have sometimes been associated with the “Seven Deadly Sins”, both as personifications and as causes (1). A standard listing of the Sins is the following: pride, avarice, anger, lust, gluttony, envy, and sloth (2). The feminist voyage discloses that these have all been radically misnamed, that is, inadequately and perversely “understood”. They are particularized expressions of the overall use of “evil” to victimize women. Our journey involves confrontations with the demonic manifestations of evil. Why has it seemed “appropriate” in this culture that the plot of a popular book and film (The Exorcist) centers around a Jesuit who “exorcises” a girl who is “possessed”? Why is there no book or film about a woman who exorcises a Jesuit? (3) From a radical feminist perspective it is clear that “Father” is precisely the one who cannot exorcise, for he is allied with and identified with The Possessor. The fact that he is himself possessed should not be women's essential concern. It is a mistake to see men as pitiable victims or vessels to be “saved” through female self-sacrifice. However possessed males may be within patriarchy, it is their order; it is they who feed on women's stolen energy. It is a trap to imagine that women should “save” men from the dynamics of demonic possession; and to attempt this is to fall deeper into the pit of patriarchal possession. It is women ourselves who will have to expel the Father from ourselves, becoming our own exorcists. Within a culture possessed by a myth of feminine evil, the naming, describing, and theorizing about good and evil has constituted a maze/haze of deception. The journey of women becoming is breaking through this maze – springing into a free space, which is an a-mazing process. Breaking through the Male Maze is both exorcism and ecstasy. It is spinning through and beyond the fathers' foreground which is the arena of games. This spinning involves encountering the demons who block the various thresholds as we move through gateway after gateway into the deepest chambers of our homeland, which is the Background of our Selves. As Denise Connors has pointed out, the Background is the realm of wild reality of women's selves. Objectification and alienation take place when we are locked into the malecentered, monodimensional foreground (4). Thus the monitors of the foreground, the male myth-masters, fashion prominen...
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