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Interviewing Mary Daly, Unapologetic Feminist Theologian

This article is more than 9 years old.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my more than 10 years as a reporter at WBUR. Today alone I’ve interviewed three.

But some people stick in my memory and Boston College professor and feminist Mary Daly is one of them. She passed away Sunday at a nursing home in Gardner.

Mary Daly appears in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, May 24, 1999, after taking a leave of absence from Boston College rather than accept a male student into one of her classes. (AP)
Mary Daly appears in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, May 24, 1999, after taking a leave of absence from Boston College rather than accept a male student into one of her classes. (AP)

I met her in 1999 at her apartment on Crystal Lake in Newton. We talked about her view that women learn better in the classroom when there aren’t men present. She enforced this view by barring men from her courses at Boston College.

The university ordered her to accept a male student who had hired a lawyer after he wasn’t permitted in her class. She steadfastly refused and filed a countersuit. The university eventually settled with her in 2001 and she agreed to retire.

She was unapologetic in her views, lively in her defense of them. She wouldn’t and didn’t compromise them, even though it led to “early” retirement, as she probably called it, at the age of 72.

Most people would have been asking to retire at that age, but Mary Daly — a feminist writer, theologian and philosopher — wanted to keep teaching.

This program aired on January 6, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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