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Spring Books

‘Outrageous Hags’and a new Atlantis

By Mary Daly
Beacon Press, 288 pages, $24.
To order: 1-617-742-2110


In this, the final work of a trilogy, the matriarch of radical feminism calls for “Meta-subversion and meta-dissolution of the entire patriarchal order.” The project, she believes, requires what some may consider a desperate remedy: the geographic separation of the sexes.

To accomplish this objective, Daly hypothesizes a rediscovered Atlantis, in which by the year 2048 “close to 50,000 Outrageous Hags of every ethnic origin” are living.

Although they have not eliminated the reality of death, they do not fear extinction. “We probably will decide to achieve this by parthenogenesis,” they tell Daly on one of her many trips between harsh reality 1998 and the blissful future in 2048. Besides, they have a backup plan. Back in what is left of the Old World after the catastrophe of 2012, there still are many women and also some men who have repented of their macho ways. Thanks to them, the race will survive until parthenogenesis is attained.

Such is the rather bizarre framework for a very serious analysis of the state to which, as Daly sees it, “boundary-violation necrotechnologists” have today reduced our planet. Attempting to second-guess God, they are invading and destroying the genetic wilderness and the space wilderness. Forests are dead or dying. The oceans are dying. They plan to strip-mine the moon. Add to all this the rise in religious fundamentalism, including the misogynist rhetoric of the Promise Keepers and the intellectual oppression found in “academentia.”

Daly denounces pornography, which she sees as causally connect to the rape and torture of women. “Pornographic computer software, pornography in the print media, movies and television, and increasing objectification of female bodies by fashion and advertising industries produce a climate in which rape, torture and murder of women and girls become commonplace and even acceptable. The result is that women now live in an escalating state of terror.”

Horrified but not overcome, Daly points the way to freedom. “Dreadful/Dreadless Women willfully join with the whole crowd of ‘every’s’ -- the mountains, the minerals, the atoms, the protons, the critters of all kind -- Naming ourSelves not simply as targets but especially as choosing to win the war that is waged against all life by necrophiliacs/nothing-lovers We will succeed in our Quest for Quintessence.”

Although she has formally repudiated her Catholic past, Daly has not exorcized it. The “Aristotelian philosophy and medieval philosophy, specifically that of Thomas Aquinas ... nourished my soul and was deeply satisfying.” And even in the Utopia of Atlantis, she speaks of her desire to revisit Fribourg, where she had earned doctorates in philosophy and theology.

However radically changed the content, that intellectual discipline undergirds everything she writes.

Gary MacEoin lives in San Antonio.

National Catholic Reporter, February 5, 1999