Friday, August 12, 2011

When the Baby Should Be Thrown Out with the Bathwater

Mary Daly was one messed up lady. I've never read her books, but I've read interviews and other writings she's done. I have a hard time following her - she's a bit too Postmodern for me - and I can't follow her points because of the flowery prose she writes with.

Mary Daly was also trans-phobic and misandrist, although, without a doubt, she would say that misandry is impossible because men are the ruling class.

Realistically speaking, Mary Daly was, in my opinion one of the few, true, unarguably misandrist Feminist leaders the movement has had. I'm aware many MRAs will point to countless others they believe to be misandrist, and that's fine. They might be right.

But Mary Daly's misandry is beyond doubt. This quote makes my point:
"If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males."
I don't appreciate it when people say she was calling for genocide here - notice she was saying that evolutionary process would be responsible, not human intervention.

But still - her belief was that men - by definition of having penises - were going to bring about the end of humanity. Men are unredeemable - there is no salvation for them.

She might as well have said "Men are intrinsically evil - they can never do good for humanity."

Now, to test if a statement is misandrist, all we have to do is plug in some other language ... so let's give it a shot:
"If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of white people."

Yup - that's hate language. Mary Daly hated men - no further discussion necessary.

Back to the point of this post, now.

The question has arisen - can we salvage any of Daly's work when she held these terrible views?

That question was posed just yesterday at Feminist Critics. Danny said:
If its unfair to dismiss Daly and all her work because of her misandry (which BTW most feminist sites acted like they didn’t want to acknowledge) and declare that she is not a feminist then how is it then fair for feminists to point to Spearhead and the selective writings of manboobz as supposed evidence that the entire men’s rights movement is nothing but a vehicle of hatred that hopes to keep women oppressed so men can have the right to beat and rape their wives at will?
Ah, the "baby and bathwater" dilemma.

Let's run an experiment, shall we? Let's remove gender issues and feminism from the mix - because we're all a bit prejudiced here on that issue.

Let's say you're having trouble in your garden behind your house. Your tomato plants aren't growing tomatoes, your pear tree is an ugly yellow color, your grass is spotty and gray and your roses smell like tuna fish.

You call up two gardening consultants to help you fix your lawn.

The first consultant, Gary, spends 30 minutes examining your back yard and gives you some recommendations about watering, trimming and fertilizing your garden, lawn and bushes. He explains a little about the soil composition in the area and the amount of light your back yard receives and how that affects your plants. As you pay him for his time, and walk back towards his truck, he engages you in polite small talk and mentions how none of his advice will matter because the world is coming to an end in a week, and he knows this because aliens are projecting their plans into his head when he sleeps at night. You nod, thank Gary for his time, and say goodbye.

Later that same day, the second consultant you hired stops by. Roger spends 30 minutes examining your back yard and gives you some recommendations that are a little bit different than what Gary advised. As you pay him and walk him back to his van, he explains to you that he knows how to take care of plants because they can speak to him. He says that the plants are planning a secret revolution and will soon be our rulers. He said that your garden is doing so poorly because the plants are angry with you because you drive an SUV and don't recycle your plastic bags. He advises you to trade in your car and start using reusable grocery bags if you want your plants to forgive you and your garden to flourish. You nod, thank Roger for his time, and say goodbye.

You go into your house, close, lock and dead-bolt the door, and now must choose whose advice to follow.

Both gardening consultants are, to be kind, operating with some very faulty conceptions regarding how the world works. Less kind folks would call them crazy.

But ultimately, you can only follow one of the consultants advice. I suspect most of you would follow Gary's advice. Gary held some wrong views, but they were not related to his area of expertise.

Roger's views were intrinsic to his gardening advice - and even if he had some good advice for you in general (reusable bags and trading in your SUV) his purposes behind that advice is indelibly linked to his perverted perception of reality.

Now, what does this mean about his advice? I believe that, in the same way that a broken clock is right twice, the fact that Roger may have given you some good advice - you can not rely on him because of this taint. If you want to find GOOD reasons to take his advice, you can (such as saving money and reducing waste by switching bags and cars) but you can't use "Because Roger Said So" when trying to convince others.

Therefore, I claim that any and all works by Mary Daly (relating to gender issues) may not be used due to her unrepentant misandry.

If she has some cookbooks somewhere that I don't know about - feel free to read and quote from them.

But you don't take investment advice from a communist.
You don't take legal advice from a guy in jail.
You don't take dieting advice from fat people.

Don't expect to improve gender issues while quoting and reading Mary Daly.


  1. Jesus EE, I always feel like I need a drink after reading some of your stuff. I mean that because of its entertaining value. :)

    As far as Daly goes, do you think she got abused by some 'man' at one point of her life. Very likely.

  2. Another back-handed compliment from TitforTat - thanks :)

    Also - I just noticed the possiblity of an accusation of misogyny by me referring to the concept of Mary Daly (a woman) having a "cookbook" as another publication of note.

    I chose "cookbook" because it was the first useful book that sprang to mind when thinking about something completely unrelated to gender. Men make some of the best chefs in the world.

    Even Kat Cora (American Iron Chef) is a lesbian.

  3. Aren't the "genocide" comments usually referring to Mary Daly's book "Quintessence... Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto"?

    That's a tale of lesbian domination set a few decades from now, in a world where almost all men and heterosexual women have been eliminated by a radical feminist "new energy field", which causes those with "phallocratic dependencies and habits" to wither away and die.

    While in real life she may have believed that men would slowly die off through an evolutionary process, in the ideal world of her fictional utopia she imagined mass genocide, and portrayed it as something wonderful.