manda Cross’s (1981: 102) heroine, Kate Fansler, tells her friend Sylvia: ‘Men are always writing books about murdering women – it’s one of their favourite fantasies: revenge for having their prerogatives usurped: sexual prerogatives, political prerogatives, social prerogatives….’ In this book I have displayed some of the wide range of empirical, methodological and theoretical materials that feminist sociologists have produced in the past, and in the 30 years since the current, Third Wave, of feminism arose. I have criticised many male sociologists for their failure to read, and then to cite, that material. I have shown that the malestream has largely ignored a genderquake in sociology although a few men are very disturbed about it, and a larger minority of men are excited by it. The many topics where our knowledge is deficient have been mentioned, alongside the areas where feminist sociology has made a difference. Tributes to the ground-breaking work of giants, such as Dorothy Smith, have been paid. In this brief conclusion we return to Burminster, and to our heroines, Eowyn and Sophonisba.
In Chapter 2, Burminster in 2002 was presented as a university department much changed by feminist sociology. It was, of course, a very exaggerated vignette: no real department in Britain has seven professors, of whom three are women, nor does any insist that one-third of items on reading lists have female authors or that all students write about feminist or queer methods in one of their essays for a core course. As the book was being completed, departments of gender studies, and of sociology, were being merged and even closed. Feminist sociology in Britain may be cut down, or even cut out altogether in the twenty-first century: it is too soon to know.
To end the book on a reflexive and positive note, let us end the book with Eowyn and Sophonisba. It is 2003 – and it is a rainy night in Georgia. The American Sociological Association (ASA) is having its annual conference, accompanied by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) and the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
(SSSI). Eowyn and Sophonisba are in the Buckhead Diner. Sophonisba has come to the ASA because her book on Jane Addams is being launched, and most of its sales will be in the USA and because of the centenary celebrations for Marion McLean. She is not an ASA member and has never been to an ASA conference before. Eowyn is a regular at ASA, but has not been to Atlanta before. The Buckhead Diner is an upmarket restaurant: furnished like a classic American diner it serves modern eclectic food. Both women have given their papers, and are celebrating that the hardest part of the meeting is over:
Eowyn: Atlanta is just like it is in a Kathy Trocheck detective story:
everything really is called Peachtree Boulevard, or Crescent, or Avenue: but it is far too hot and too humid for me. I will be glad to get back to Glasgow. Sophonisba: Which is Kathy Trocheck? – the series with the woman who runs a house-cleaning service?
Eowyn: Yes – I will lend you the one I found today when I have read
it – her heroine, Callahan Garrity, is fun. I’ve enjoyed ASA but I’m ready to get home.
Sophonisba: Me too – did you get into the publishers’ exhibits today? Eowyn: Yes: awesome. And I’ll never get used to the armed guards on
the door or the Encyclopaedia Britannica having a stall. There’s a useful looking series we should buy for the Library: The Gender Lens series from AltaMira. And did you see all those Chicago University Press titles? Sophonisba: Is Sara Delamont’s book out? Is it there?
Eowyn: Yes – though no one in America is going to take any notice
of a British book, are they? It could be what we need – I asked for an inspection copy before we left home.
Sophonisba: Let’s hope we both like it. Oh here’s our salads.
I, as the real author, hope you, the reader, like it. To be optimistic, and end with an even more positive note, let us conclude with words from Pierre Bourdieu and Ulrich Beck. These two giants of sociology offer uplift. Bourdieu argues that: ‘masculine domination no longer imposes itself with the transparency of something taken for granted. Thanks, in particular, to the immense critical effort of the feminist movement… it now appears as something to be avoided, excused or justified’ (2001: 88).
Similarly radical in its recognition of the genderquake, we should end this chapter and the book with a comment on gender equality from Ulrich Beck, which addresses both my central themes: ‘A society in which men and women were really equal… would without doubt be a new modernity’ (1994: 27).