Mary Daly’s Feminist Vision of Gendercide

In a post this month about a satirical essay by Martha Burk on controlling male fertility, weblogger Glenn Reynolds offered this parenthetical remark,

Though if you think that calling Burk’s piece “satire” changes the face of feminism you’re showing your ignorance. There are other writings by academic feminists calling for the elimination of men and similar absurdities in dead earnest, though at nearly midnight I’m not going to run them down. But as a guy who once edited Catharine MacKinnon, I know a bit about this stuff.

Barry Deutsch then challenged Reynolds as to whether there are really academic feminists who have called for the complete elimination of men. Reynolds turns up references in Mary Ann Warren’s “Gendercide,” which Deutsch says isn’t good enough.

Well, there is one academic feminist who is both a fan of parthenogenesis and advocates the elimination of men (and most women) — Mary Daly. Until a few years ago, Daly was a professor at Boston College. She was finally forced out there because she refused to allow men to participate in her classroom.

Daly has long advocated for research into parthenogenesis to dispense with men. Her book, Quintessence, is half-science fiction novel, half bizarre manifesto in which she explicitly lays out her views. Daly herself is a character in the book who visits a utopian continent where — thanks to the influence of Daly’s books — a lesbian elite reproduce solely through parthenogenesis.

And there is no doubt that Daly considers this both desirable and possible. Here’s Daly from a 2001 interview with What Is Enlightenment magazine (emphasis added),

WIE: In your latest book, Quintessence, you describe a utopian society of the future, on a continent populated entirely by women, where procreation occurs through parthenogenesis, without participation of men. What is your vision for a postpatriarchal world? Is it similar to what you described in the book?

MD: You can read Quintessence and you can get a sense of it. It’s a description of an alternative future. It’s there partly as a device and partly because it’s a dream. There could be many alternative futures, but some of the elements are constant: that it would be women only; that it would be women generating the energy throughout the universe; that much of the contamination, both physical and mental, has been dealt with.

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article, ‘The Future, If There is One, Is Female,” writes: “At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.” What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it’s not a bad idea at all. 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. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.

Of course, what Daly is advocating here is nothing short of gendercide, and yet Daly is taken seriously by radical feminists.

Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, for example, called Quintessence a “masterpiece.” When the Boston College controversy erupted, Daly’s supporters held a fundraiser called “A Celebration of the Work of Mary Daly” which included Diane Bell, Director of Women’s Studies at the George Washington University; Mary Hunt, Co-Director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual; Frances Kissling, President of Catholics for a Free Choice, and others. Daly also counted Eleanor Smeal, Gloria Steinem, and other feminists outside of academia in her corner.

The press release announcing the celebration explicitly includes Quintessence as one of Daly’s celebrated works. Can you imagine for a second the outrage if men in and outside of academia got together to celebrate the works of a misogynist who complained of female “contamination” and advocated “a drastic reduction of the population of females”?

And that, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with contemporary feminism — that such nutcases are not only tolerated but openly celebrated. And they still wonder why so few college-aged women want to self-identify themselves as “feminists.”


Mary Daly event in Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2001. Mary Hunt, E-mail press release, Jan. 10, 2001.

The Thin Thread Of Conversation: An Interview With Mary Daly. Catherine Madsen, Cross Currents, Fall 2000.

Change Agents in the Church: Mary Daly. Rev. Joan Gelbein, Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Sunday, January 7, 2001.

Steinem’s Taliban Hypocrisy

Gloria Steinem this week provided an excellent example of the idiocy of much of contemporary feminism when she revealed that it is not so much whether or not women are spared from violence and oppression, but rather the key point is who gets to save women from violence and oppression.

Back in June 2000, Steinem lent her support to a “Statement Of Support For The
Declaration Of The Essential Rights Of Afghan Women” prepared by a Paris-based Afghan women’s group called NEGAR-Support of Women of Afghanistan. According to that statement, which Steinem and others signed,

On June 28, 2000, at the initiative of NEGAR-Support of Women of Afghanistan, a Paris-based Afghan women?s association, several hundred Afghan women from all segments of the Afghan nation, assembled in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to draft and promulgate a “Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women” (see elsewhere in this web site). With this document, the Afghan women affirm and demand for themselves the inalienable rights that had been assured for them by the Constitution of Afghanistan. The Afghan women reject the false assertions of the Taliban militias that these rights are in contradiction with the religion, culture and traditions of Afghan society and nation.

. . .

This statement in support of the Afghan women?s Declaration is part of an international campaign by NEGAR-Support of Women of Afghanistan with the goal of five million signatures to be presented to the United Nations by NEGAR and a delegation of Afghans and their world-wide women and men supporters.

Congress, the US Mission to the UN and other US policy-making entities must support:

1. The integration of this Declaration as a part of the process for a just, honorable and durable peace for the legitimate country of Afghanistan for eventual inclusion in the Constitution,
2. Pressure on Pakistan to end its military, political, and financial support which renders the Taliban militias possible,
3. The denial of recognition of the Taliban militias.

History has demonstrated that supremacist and totalitarian regimes such as the Taliban militias maintain themselves in power only if the rest of the world remains silent.

This week, however, Steinem apparently changed her mind. This time around she was listed as a signer of a statement, “We won’t deny our consciences,” which was published in the British newspaper The Guardian. That statement said, among other things, that,

The signers of this statement call on the people of the US to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.

We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers.. . .

We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do – we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.

. . .

In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime.

. . .

President Bush has declared: “You’re either with us or against us.” Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say not in our name. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our solidarity in word and deed.

Apparently after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Taliban were no longer religious totalitarianism, but rather a brave movement standing up to U.S. coercion. Steinem was apparently prepared to sign any number of declarations against the Taliban, but how dare those patriarchal forces in the White House actually get rid of the Taliban without clearing it with Steinem first? (And presumably, women in Iraq

To paraphrase a famous Steinem-ism, women in Afghanistan needed Steinem like a fish needs a bicycle.

Note that in addition to Steinem, Eve Ensler, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephanie Coontz, Starhawk, and Alice Walker also added their support to giving the Taliban a free hand in Afghanistan “free from military coercion by great powers.”


We won’t deny our consciences. The Guardian, June 14, 2002.

Statement Of Support For The
Declaration Of The Essential Rights Of Afghan Women
. June 28, 2000.

Steinem: Nader Was Wrong to Have a Woman on His Ticket

Gloria Steinem was just one of several prominent feminists who went out of their way to criticize Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for daring to run for president. Steinem and others, including the National Organization for Women, argued that the main effect of Nader’s candidacy would be to elect the pro-life George W. Bush who would appoint people in the mould of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court (ignoring, conveniently, that a Democratic Senate voted to confirm Thomas).

Steinem certainly has the right to share her views, but toward the end of the presidential campaign she penned a “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m not Voting for Nader” letter that was widely distributed via e-mail. Among the ten reasons Steinem wasn’t voting for Nader, number four was bizarre,

4) Nader asked Winona LaDuke, an important Native American leader, to support and run with him, despite his likely contribution to the victory of George W. Bush, a man who has stated that “state law is supreme when to comes to Indians.”

This is a bit bizarre. She’s not going to vote for Nader specifically because he was able to convince a woman to run as his vice-president? As Ellen Johnson noted in a reply to Steinem, she appears to be questioning LaDuke’s agency, as if the Native American activist had no choice in the matter.

I think LaDuke was a bad choice because, like Nader, she’s pretty much wrong about everything, but to argue that feminists should vote against Nader because he had the temerity to ask a woman to run as his vice-president is absurd.

Gloria Steinem Gets Married (It’s All About the Hypocrisy)

    Responding to an old article about Gloria Steinem (Steinem finds ‘truth’ behind Valentine’s Day love fools), Josh posted a comment the other day saying,

I just heard that Gloria Steinem … just got married. Apparently she doesn’t quite agree with you that romance is always “an unnatural idea created by patriarchal institutions to keep women in their place.

    First, I don’t happen to think marriage is “an unnatural idea created by patriarchal institutions.” That, in fact, was a summary of Steinem’s claims against marriage in her 1992 book, Revolution From Within, in which Steinem slammed romance and marriage as patriarchal constructs designed to keep women from engaging in revolutionary acts. Just read what she wrote:

Romance itself serves a larger political purpose by offering at least a temporary reward for gender roles and threatening rebels with loneliness and rejection. … (Romance) also minimizes the very anti-patriarchal and revolutionary possibility that women and men will realize each other’s shared humanity when we are together physically for the sexual and procreative purposes society needs. … The Roman ‘bread and circuses’ way of keeping the masses happy – and the French saying that ‘marriage is the only adventure open to the middle class’ – might now be updated. The circus of romance distracts us with what is, from society’s point of view, a safe adventure.

    Comparing marriage to the spectacle of the Roman ‘bread and circuses’ presents a pretty stark case against marriage, as does the view that romance is a construct largely designed to be used as a threat to keep women from challenging gender roles.

    And now Steinem is getting married. What are we to make of this? This isn’t too difficult — like most ideologues, Steinem is a hypocrite (always has been). The whole thrust of the above chapter of Revolution From Within is that many women are making “inauthentic” choices. No woman (or man) would really choose a conventional marriage with all that it entails so there must be something forcing women into marriages. But of course those who consider themselves enlightened enough to point out that other people’s choices aren’t really legitimate rarely apply the same sort of logic to themselves.

    This is no different than pro-life individuals, such as Gary Bauer, who could go on all day about the evils of abortion but then stutter and fumble all over themselves when asked what they would do if their daughter wanted an abortion.

    What are we to make of Steinem’s marriage? If we take her claims in Revolution From Within seriously, she is making an inauthentic choice based on patriarchal browbeating. Personally I just hope she’s happy in her marriage and would repudiate her implication that women who want to get married are victims of patriarchal brainwashing.

Steinem finds ‘truth’ behind Valentine’s Day love fools

By Elisabeth

“You’re just another victim.”
-House of Pain

Millions of American women
will celebrate Valentine’s Day Friday with their boyfriends, husbands
and significant others, all the while completely oblivious to how oppressive,
degrading and dangerous this holiday is.

Valentine’s Day, of course,
aims at celebrating romance – that complex dance between two people falling
in love. What most women don’t realize is that romance is an unnatural
idea created by patriarchal institutions to keep women in their place.

Gloria Steinem, long-time
feminist activist, is one of the few people to see through the surface
of romance to expose the debilitating undercurrents it entails. She describes
the horrors of romance in her 1992 book, Revolution From Within.

Romance, according to Steinem,
is little more than a political ideology which reinforces the patriarchy.
“Romance itself,” she writes, “serves a larger political
purpose by offering at least a temporary reward for gender roles and threatening
rebels with loneliness and rejection.”

It’s so obvious when you think
about it – romance is a form of blackmail. Either conform to the patriarchy
or forget about having any more dates. What an insidious plot! But it
gets even worse.

“(Romance) also minimizes
the very anti-patriarchal and revolutionary possibility that women and
men will realize each other’s shared humanity when we are together physically
for the sexual and procreative purposes society needs.”

Whew! Steinem’s hit the mother
lode. Now it’s clear why men never quite seemed human. It could have been
just a misunderstanding, but now Steinem has proven it’s the oppressive
ideology of romance. Now you know too – pass it on.

By now you might be thinking
something’s strange here. Some women don’t seem to find romance such a
bad thing. A few even seem to be enjoying it! How could that be? Leave
it to Steinem to peer into our hearts and diagnose the true problem.

“The Roman ‘bread and
circuses’ way of keeping the masses happy – and the French saying that
‘marriage is the only adventure open to the middle class’ – might now
be updated. The circus of romance distracts us with what is, from society’s
point of view, a safe adventure.”

Romance is like a bad sitcom.
It lulls you to sleep so you forget how depressing the evening news was
and makes you forget you’re dating evil male oppressors. Love truly is

Romance does something far
worse than merely further women’s oppression, however. It turns them into
bloodthirsty killers. It’s amazing no one noticed the connection before.

“Though women mainly
become violent in self-defense or in defense of their children, the power
of romantic obsession is so great – and women are so much more subject
to it – that even ‘feminine’ nonviolent conditioning can be overcome.
When women do commit violent crimes, they are even more likely than a
man’s to be attributable to romance rather than economics, whether that
means the rare crime in which a woman kills out of jealousy or the more
frequent one in which a woman is an accessory to a crime initiated by
her husband or lover.”

What an incredible explanation
for violent crime by women. Why do some women kill? Romance made them
do it. Sure beats the Twinkie defense, though the famous Fuhrman-frame
up is still far and away the best answer.

This does help explain an
interesting result of studies of violence between couples. Researchers
such as Richard Gelles report that women and men tend to commit violent
acts against each other at almost identical rates. This is a mystifying
result until you realize both are slaves to the romantic impulse. Then
it all starts to fit together.

Don’t think you’re getting
off easy if you’re gay or lesbian. The problem with gays and lesbians,
according to Steinem, is that not only do they internalize the bad romantic
habits their parents might have engaged in, but some gay and lesbian couples
exaggerate romantic gender roles.

“Sometimes, gender roles
produce an exaggerated version known as doubling, in which two men together
become twice as aggressive, unempathetic, unavailable for intimacy, but
promiscuous about sex; or two women together may become twice as passive,
dependent on one another, and focused on intimacy, with or without sex.”

So this Valentine’s Day remember
– you may think you’re an independent woman and you may even think women
have made enormous progress over the last 30 years, but as far as Steinem’s
concerned, you’re just another victim.