Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview
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MARY DALY

( 1928-), postchristian, radical feminist philosopher, "Webster"

FERN L. JOHNSON

"Wild women will to shift the shapes of words, of worlds."

-- Mary Daly, 1973; 1985:xii

Most people who are familiar with Mary Daly do not think of her primarily as a public speaker. They know her as the author of a number of provocative books that form a progression of radical feminist thought on religion, philosophy, and the quest to uncover and reveal the integrity of women from within the confines of patriarchy. Yet her numerous speaking engagements have given voice to her words and widely disseminated a message for and about women.

Mary Daly is one of this century's significant thinkers on the foundations and effects of patriarchy, and thus she holds an important position in the contemporary discourse about women. Probably more than any other feminist writer/speaker, she has been an innovator in developing women's language forms and language meanings. Her linguistic creativity sets her apart from others as a public speaker, just as it distinguishes her writing from that of others: "What Daly does with and to language stands as the boldest experiment yet in creating a new language of and for women. No word is safe when Mary Daly gets hold of it" ( Johnson, 1986:328). She has brought not only new ideas to the public forum, but also the feminist language in which she writes to the public platform. Her writing and her speaking bring new meanings and new language forms to her audiences as she works against what she calls logocide and verbicide. She defines logocide as "the systematic murder of logos (reason) in patriarchy, the State of Sleeping Death" ( Daly, 1987:209). Examples include using the maleness of Jesus Christ to justify religious patriarchy and the subordination of women, or the justification of gynecological surgery and psychotherapy as necessary because of reproductive and psychological defects in

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