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Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  976 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Theologian/philosopher Daly (The Church & the 2nd Sex, Rev. '75; Beyond God the Father, '73) has written "an extremist book...on the edge of a culture that is killing itself." Conceived as a radical feminist "Voyage" of woman becoming herself, it's made up of three "Passages." The 1st denounces the reversals & deceptions ("mind pollution") of patriarchal discipline ...more
Hardcover, 485 pages
Published January 1st 1978 by Beacon Press (Boston)
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Tony duncan
May 03, 2008 Tony duncan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any true feminist
Shelves: politics
This book really got me off my ass about feminism. it was the most extreme analysis I had ever read about the oppression of woman. It is this type of thinking that I think helped fuel the backlash against feminism. NOT because it was wrong ( though I think some things were exaggerated or not quite true) but because it so accurately reflect how deep the psychological underpinnings of patriarchy operate. And how most woman, who swear they are feminist are unaware of behaviors and attitudes that re ...more
I would give this 4.5 if I could. I found the first chapters a bit confusing and weird, but perhaps I should read them again now I've got used to the language and the method of analysis.

Daly looks at repeating trends and patterns in patriarchal myths and practices across the world, which is radical in every sense. I have often found that much of modern feminism lacks a broad systemic analysis, probably because they are so afraid of being like those second wavers who oppress everybody with their
Randy Weled
Every man needs to read this book if they want to be an ally to woman. This is a difficult read, and men will get very defensive unless they realize that this is statement about the patriarchy rather than an individual; however, just the way our male body is less vulnerable than that of a woman, and has been all throughout time, and that we are physically larger and stronger, "we" have oppressed woman, we have raped, we have disfigured and we, in the form of patriarchy have defined femininity. W ...more
Brit Mandelo
While Daly has some fascinating, excellent commentary on religion, patriarchy, and the religion of patriarchy--I cannot get over how nauseatingly transphobic this text is. It is worth reading, I think; it's valuable from a feminist perspective, but it is firmly stuck in the nastiest part of the second wave. It's a constant, awful, nasty thread running through the entire text that "transsexuals" (as she refers to transgender people) are the enemies of women, are not women, and are the tools of pa ...more
In defense of Mary Daly: I love Gyn/Ecology even if Audre Lorde doesn't. I love Daly's insistence on di-secting words in order to draw out their meanings (some may find it gimmicky). The rest of her published works don't interest me the way Gyn/Ecology does, but I think Ms. Daly is genius. More feminists should read her even if her brand of feminism is out of style.
Leigh Ellis
Spinsters spin all ways, always.
Erik Graff
Jan 30, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: feminists
Recommended to Erik by: Karen Engdahl
Shelves: philosophy
I read this immediately upon finishing Daly's Beyond God the Father. It was more difficult and less enjoyable. One difficulty was that she no longer appeared to be addressing me, but only females. My desire is to transcend gender in the sense of approaching an ability to embrace and identify with all possible genderings, not to get into my "maleness" as natively distinct from an antithetical "femaleness". Daly seems to buy into the scheme that there is a real ontological difference and then to c ...more
Some of the best writing I've ever read. Daly's project here is incredibly central and important for feminism. I am very, very impressed by her writing style--completely apart from the political implications of the work. An explosive attempt at the radical phenomeno-hermeneutical liberation of women. An overall important supplement to any modern work on phenomenological ontology.
"Gyn/Ecology is about women living, loving, creating our Selves, our cosmos. It is dis-possessing our Selves, inspiriting our Selves, hearing the call of the wild, naming our wisdom, spinning and weaving world tapestries out of genesis and demise. In contrast to gynecology, which depends on fixation and dismemberment, Gyn/Ecology affirms that everything is connected."
The section on the skin-crawling origin of the gynecological medical specialty alone is worth the price of the book. Daly's unvarnished and very angry ruminations on patriarchy are very thought-provoking. Casually picking this book up was my introduction to radical feminist thought, and it was like jumping in the deep end for me.
Liz Ellis
Must read for any feminist - or anyone who has a daughter. From witches to foot binding to female genital mutilation - and for everyone who thinks women do it to and/or for themselves - we have NEVER set the bar by which we are judged.
Oct 07, 2008 Marsha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any woman I know
radical feminist theory at its finest
Katie Glanz
This is a compelling and lyrical book. Daly's Gyn/Ecology exposes the insidious beliefs and "customs" of global patriarchy. Daly dives into explorations of misogynist language (and in doing so, manages to give a wag-of-the-finger to Chomsky--a very cool accomplishment in its own right.) She reveals ingenious and insightful woman-centric ways of living, thinking, and existing in this world.

The weaknesses in Daly's work include a nasty bit of transphobia, an unabashed tendency to speak for "all wo
ONTD Feminism
LJ user recognitions:

Okay, I know. Daly was problematic in a million different ways. She was often dismissive of WOC, she was downright contemptuous of trans women and men, and she didn't have much use for the cis brand of men either. Add to that her own idiosyncratic, too-cute-by-half idiomatic language, heavily leaning on wordplay, and it's enough to daunt anyone. But Gyn/Ecology, when you get past all the nonsense, does such a good job looking at the oppressive nature of the patriarchy in man
Maybe this book is somewhat dated now, and somewhat tainted by Daly's overlong plenary address at the American Academy of Religions conference in 1991 or 1992, in which she stole time from the Black feminists who were to follow her, and debunked her essentialism with her whiteness. But when I read it, I suffered under the permanent change it was effecting in me. It really threw me for a loop.
This book gave me a tremendous headache, but it's never boring. Daly offers a lot of ideas that some might find outrageous; there's plenty to argue about here.
Daly is exceptionally creative. I used some of her methods to sustain my own creative work in my dissertation.
Probably read this in 2005.
Julia Magdalena
A real eye-opener to say the least! It's thought-provoking and inspirational. I don't think I'll be able to NOT read between the lines ever again. Thank you, Mary! The only downside for me was that Mary Daly clearly dislikes ALL males. I understand her point of view, but feel that she's being really quite unfair here. Having an X and a Y chromosome doesn't make a man an evil oppressor. There are many truly gentle men out there whose biased views of women isn't their fault any more than it is our ...more
I read this book in my 30's and found Daly's unravelling of Patriarchy a huge eye opener. Her outrage and imagination are unmatched in anything else I've read and were positively refreshing. I feel feminist theory is like a banquet - choose from all the food groups for the best nutrition and be as daring as possible in your tastes if you want to do more than survive - to thrill your pallet. What I've eaten at Daly's banquet has continued to serve me well. Here's Daly's Radical Feminism served up ...more
Eleanor Cowan
One of the most important books I have ever read!

Through her writing, Mary Daly mothers so many of us whose birth mothers were swallowed by patriarchal religions. Even today, these dominating forces dogmatically shame and subjugate.

Daly employs language brilliantly to successfully communicate historical injustice and to motivate serious activism in ourselves and in our world.

Mary Daly raised me and I thank her!

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife
Mar 09, 2015 Tracy marked it as never-gonna-read  ·  review of another edition
Created the "never-gonna-read" and "grim-obligation" bookshelves just for this one, although it will not be the last added to those categories. I got a used copy of this yeeeeeears ago and stared it in the face for way too long even before I found out it was the viciously transphobic brand of radical feminism. Yuck. Forget it.
Sep 24, 2010 Michelle added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Other Feminists Wannabees
This book is all about the demythologization of patriarchal history - past and present (and probably a whole lot more that I'm not getting). It is not a book written on eggshells. Mary calls it like she sees it and isn't afraid to name Men as the perpetrators of oppression. I am relating to this book in terms of the myths surrounding mothering and especially birth. I also LOVE how she uses language. She breaks down words to their origin and goes into detail about how the meaning was re-framed to ...more
Alexandra Michaelides
Complicated and thought-provoking. I enjoy this book for it's willingness to not play nice; to name misogyny and show the extent of patriarchy. In addition to what others have wisely pointed out (her problematic notions on race and transexualism), I find her theory at time too, well, theoretical. This book certainly has me thinking, and I thank it for that. But, too often I find myself at the end of a chapter wanting her to be more pragmatic. Radical theory is fantastic for starting fantastic ne ...more
Peter Jakobsen
The 'Gravity's Rainbow' of feminism, an inspired sample-bag of misogyny, a panoply of male sadism. Arguably an insane tract, nevertheless the facts are there -they are indubitable and to this mere male reader, quite compelling
I don't really agree with Daly's politics (her brand of radical feminism is pretty white, middle class, and cis oriented to say the least), but the way she uses language and mythology here is pretty fascinating to read.

Incidentally, her method of finding the positive "back-ground" of terms like crone, hag, trivia, and spinster can also be applied to terms about trans women. Susan Stryker did this in an essay on Frankenstein, in which she reinterpreted the terms "monster" and "creature" which ar
Loree  Iverson
On the 'Witchcraft' section: I acknowledge her passion, and can even appreciate some of her more interesting claims (the relation between naturopathy and the sugar trade in regards to witchcraft). But I believe that her pronounced disdain towards men renders her unable to perceive the flaws in her essentialist feminism.
Pujita Sieplinga
Whether you are a feminist or not this book is a must read for Everyone. This book is well written and provides insight as to the role of women around the world in the past how it affects the present and will effect out future; and by our I mean ALL of us - society as a whole.
Daly was a clever woman who came to some stupid conclusions. If this book does sound interesting to you, read it. If it doesn't, don't. End of. Most of it is complete bullshit, but as anyone who reads philosophy regularly knows, that's no reason to ignore it.
This book brings a unique perspective to feminist theory. The use of language, invented, and re-punctuated words was interesting, but I had a hard time getting on board with the many sweeping and unsupported generalizations.
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Mary Daly was an American radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian. Daly, who described herself as a "radical lesbian feminist", taught at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution, for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her advanced women's studies classes. She allowed male students i ...more
More about Mary Daly...
Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy The Church and the Second Sex Websters' First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language Outercourse (Be-Ing on Account of My Time/Space)

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“Every woman who has come to consciousness can recall an almost endless series of oppressive, violating, insulting, assaulting acts against her Self. Every woman is battered by such assaults - is on a psychic level, a battered woman.” 4 likes
“Originally, it was believed that witches possessed the power of glamour and according to the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum, witches by their glamour could cause the male 'member' to disappear. In modern usage, this meaning has almost disappeared into the background and the power of the term is masked and suffocated by such foreground images as those associated with glamour magazine.” 1 likes
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