This post is the second in an on-going series to bring awareness to and explanation of various Mormon Feminist theories and theologies.
Although Mary Daly is not Mormon, her theology has had a major impact on many Christian and post-Christian feminist theologians.
This blog post will only cover a small portion of chapter two of Beyond God the Father, Exorcising Evil from Eve: The Fall Into Freedom. The full text can be found here.
Since the Eve myth permeates throughout Western culture and has been used to bring down women for centuries, Mary Daly has decided that we must reinterpret it. To combat the way the story of Eve has been used to defend oppression we must reclaim Eve.
She views the god of the Garden of Eden as nothing more than an over-controlling, patriarchal idol to distract us from the real God, which for Daly is a verb, an action, a state of being.
This weak idol of a god, and the rest of the Garden he has created, is dependent on false dichotomies of god and the serpent, good and evil, knowledge and life, male and female.
Eve essentially becomes the scapegoat for all of humanity’s problems for not respecting the dichotomies this disturbing god of the Garden has created.
Daly suggests that perhaps we can reinterpret the Garden of Eden as a feminist vision of what is to come instead of an oppressive myth concerning some distant event in the past.
It is feminism that is the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, or rather, that Fruit of Knowledge that Transcends Good and Evil.
Through feminism, women are learning to go beyond all these false dichotomies. They are leaving the patriarchal false utopia we live in now to have a fall into freedom, beyond good and evil and male and female.
Eventually, women will pass this fruit on to the other half of the population.
my own additional insights
Daly does not tell us who is the Serpent that tries to convince Eve to partake of the fruit. My idea is that perhaps the Serpent is Lilith, as suggested by some scholars.
According to Hebrew Folklore, Lilith was Adam’s first wife, created out of the dust with him, but was cast out of the Garden for wanting to be equal with him. She would later be said to wander the Earth, having sex with men in their sleep to give birth to demons.
Daly suggests that these false dichotomies that are pushed by the patriarchy end up creating dichotomies among women. A woman is either a mother/virgin or a bitch/whore.
What if Lilith represents those women who have already learned how oppressive these dichotomies are? What if Lilith is the bitch/whore who already ate the fruit, and is trying to help the rest of womankind partake of it as well?