2. “Spin Big”: Continuing the work of mapping the Background(s)

[2] Perhaps more than any other feminist of our time, Mary Daly has created new conceptual space by extensive mapping out (or ‘spinning’ to use a favorite metaphor of hers) of the realm she calls the ‘Background.’  By sounding the “Call of the Wild, this Summons to hear the Word of the Weird,” (Daly 1984, 417) her work shaped me as a feminist philosopher in ways that very nearly pushed me out of the academy, but absolutely showed me the place to occupy in order to survive with integrity within it.

[3] Daly herself fought her entire career to maintain her position at Boston College.  To raise awareness and financial support for the last battle of her career, she went on the lecture circuit with a talk entitled, “Sin Big.”  Certainly both terms characterized her life work.(n2)  In this paper, I explore the naming of the foreground, the mappings of the Background, and the significance of the conceptual space Mary Daly forged for radical feminist scholars resisting multiple forms of oppression.  I use passages from the Wickedary to illustrate the meticulous scholarship Daly employed to explain these concepts.  Then I turn to a critical examination of the Wickedary as a mapping of the Background by María Lugones.  Lugones’ concerns act as a useful directive in fleshing out the multiplicity of Backgrounds.

[4] Mary Daly’s work stands out, at least at this distance, for the breadth and depth with which she fleshed out her concept of the Background of patriarchy.  Intellectuals, activists, artists and others working for liberatory social change can build on this work.  I encourage us to Spin Big!

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