Famed radical feminist philosopher and theologian Mary Daly has refused to allow male students into an advanced feminist theory course at Boston College despite an ultimatum issued by college officials.
Daly believes very strongly that allowing male students into her courses would be distracting, disruptive and inhibiting to her female students. She told the Boston Globe that male students of feminist theory dominate the classroom with endless discussions about their own feelings, lack of understanding, and/or arguments. In response, female students adopt a stereotypical caregiving role and waste their energies trying to console and instruct the male students.
Daly's objection is to letting men's presence hinder women's performance in the classroom, and not to teaching men at all. In fact, Daly used to teach all-male courses before Boston College became coed in 1970 and was supported by over 1,500 male students who participated in a protest march when Daly was denied tenure in 1969. Since then, Daly has also instructed numerous men through independent study courses in which she and the male student meet one-on-one.
The recent furor began when two male students threatened to sue, arguing that Boston College was violating Title IX by allowing Daly to refuse male students. One of the students belongs to a Republican campus group and has received backing from the conservative Center for Individual Rights in Washington. The Center for Individual Rights recently sent out a letter requesting donations for attacks on "two of feminism's sacred cows: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments."
Daly says she will refuse to abide by Boston College's order and will instead take a leave of absence. Many fear that the recent controversy will force 70-year-old professor to retire. Daly has pledged to stand her ground and remain strong, saying, "After beginning my career with a bang, I cannot end with a whimper."
Media Resources: The Boston Globe and Washington Post - February 25 and 26, 1999