Thursday, 28 January 2010

She Does it to Wind Us Up

A few weeks ago, somebody died. Usually when I write about people dying, it's because I think their deaths were a tragic loss. But in the case of Mary Daly, I couldn't give a gnat's chuff. If Mary Daly wasn't the inspiration for Viz comic's 'Millie Tant' character, then she undoubtedly inspired whoever was. Among other examples of her greatest hits, Daly is responsible for making the pagan movement a laughing stock by starting up the 'never again the burning times!' nonsense that the witch-burnings of early modern Europe were a holocaust-level genocide. This has been roundly trashed by scholars of witchcraft like Ronald Hutton, who've actually done the research, but then Hutton wouldn't count in Daly's view because he has a penis. 'Cause, y'see, despite her outrage at the 'gynocide' (geddit?) in Europe, Daly also said, with, as the Discordians put it, her bare face hanging out, that 'if life is to survive on this planet there must be...a drastic reduction of the population of males.'

Yes - out of one side of her face she wept for a genocide which never frakkin' happened, and out of the other side she advocated genocide against 49% of the world's population. And people wonder why radical feminists of her ilk aren't taken seriously?

Weirdly for a radfem, though, Daly was somewhat coy about advocating genocide against trans women. Oh, she was happy enough to call trans women 'Frankensteinian' (which shows, I suppose, that her ignorance of history was matched by her ignorance of literature - altogether now, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster...) but she employed a cat's paw to actually argue that they ought to be 'morally mandated out of existence.' This was Janice Raymond, whose PhD dissertation, supervised by Daly, became the anti-trans hate screed The Transsexual Empire. Well, if Master Yoda taught us nothing else it's that there are 'always two - the master and the apprentice.' Sadly for us all, Darth Raymond is still with us.

I haven't even touched on Daly's exclusion  of the voices of women of colour, which Audre Lorde called her out on publicly, without receiving an adequate response.

Mary Daly, then: a historical charlatan, an apalling writer, a transphobic bigot, a racist, and an advocate of genocide. You would have to be the vilest kind of pointless opinion troll to write up a glowing obituary for someone like that, wouldn't you?

Well, guess who's done just that?

She does it to wind us up, I'm sure. It's almost laughable. Except that it's not, because allowing people like Bindel to get away with this crap allows things like this to happen.

I've spent an hour trying to come up with a nice, well-written tie-up for this post. And I can't. No words I write will be equal to the horror of what happened to Angelina Mavilia, and what happened to Myra Ical in Texas last week, and what happens to trans women all over the world.  I can only write a certain amount of words per day and however many I wrote, they could never compare to that suffering. But at least I don't waste those words praising someone who would have supported their violation and murder. Julie Bindel does. And for that reason alone, she should not be given a platform, whether at Queer Question Time tomorrow, or in the Guardian.

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