Amanda Cross (1981: 22) has a sympathetic character say: ‘when the patriarchy gets worried, it goes into action’. The action of the patriarchy is apparent in many of the chapters, and the ‘backlash’ against feminism is discussed in Chapter 7. Feminism is a controversial ideology, even in sociology which is generally a broad church, tolerant of many theories and viewpoints. As I write that, however, I remember the furious anger of James Davis (1994) and Jonathan Imber (1999) who feel their discipline has been polluted by disparate perspectives, and want it purified and returned to a Parsonian ‘scientific’ ivory tower, to a fundamentalist creed with strong barriers around it. Many of the ideas explored in this book are unpopular. Bourdieu (1988) described Homo Academicus as a book for burning. For many people, this too will be a book for burning. I doubt if any BSA member will say in public or write for publication that there should not be a book on feminism in the millennial series, but it will cause dissent in private and some annoyance.
In 1987, 27 women were shot at the University of Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. 14 of them died. All but one of the dead women were engineering students. Their killer, who committed suicide, considered himself ‘a rational erudite’. He had shouted, before the first six women were killed ‘You’re all a bunch of feminists and I hate feminists’ (Scanlon, 1998: 225). A fictional response to the massacre is depicted in Appignanesi (1999), a novel by a woman who has also written on de Beauvoir, Freud and women and postmodernism. This massacre can be seen as the work of one deranged, sick person or it can be seen as an extreme example of misogynist fear and loathing of women and/or feminists. To date, no one has massacred feminist sociologists (and one terrible irony of the Montreal event is that most women engineers are not feminists at all). However, the power of the ideas put forward by feminist sociology provokes fear, loathing and misogyny.