Fiona the Feminist was angry. She had been refused permission to use a classroom in the local school for her Wednesday evening support group. The misogynist school principle had told her that she needed to book a room at least eight weeks in advance and that as it stood, all the rooms were already being used. Fiona knew this was yet another attempt by the patriarchy to crush the spirits of women. Fiona would not be so easily thwarted though. Her determination to help the downtrodden women of Ireland was unquenchable. She would hold the support group in her own house.
Originally the plan was for Fiona’s friend Fanny the Feminist to lead the group, but it was decided that as Fiona held the relevant diplomas in victimology and male-blaming, she would be better placed to take the lead. Fiona prepared the room well in advance, arranging chairs in a circle and hanging the large banner she had made on the wall. The banner read “Women Empowering Women” Fiona had thought of that slogan all by herself. She finally removed anything remotely phallic in shape from the room. She knew she would be dealing with victims of patriarchal abuse and she didn’t want anyone to be triggered.
The first evening went well. Only a few people showed up but it was a good start. Fiona was introduced to some new faces. Fifi, Frances, Faye and Freda. Their stories were truly harrowing.
Fifi had been called a “stupid bitch” after having bumped her car into that of a nasty misogynist. She had required months of counseling and she wasn’t quite there yet. She recounted how the police had arrived quickly on the scene, but instead of offering her support and comfort, they had sided with the misogynist, checking Fifi’s insurance documents and warning her that she would have to pay for the damage.
Faye had been “cyber bullied”. Various misogynists had left messages on her feminist blog at wearevictims.com. The messages had been critical of feminism in general and one of them had even called her an idiot. Faye had interpreted this as a death-threat and had reported it to police. Faye had been deeply traumatized by her ordeal. She trembled uncontrollably as she told her story and had to be comforted by a group hug. Fiona who had left her laptop open on the table, closed it and removed it from the room. Faye had explained that she sometimes found the sight of computer screens quite triggering. And this was to be a safe space for women.
Freda had once been told that she had “nice melons” by a drunk outside a pub. She had reported the incident to the police but they had predictably refused to investigate. Freda had been afraid to leave her apartment for months.
Fanny recounted her own horrific story of abuse and survival. She had overheard an inappropriate joke in work and she reminded everybody that there was nothing funny about inappropriate remarks. In fact they could be devastating to the self-esteem of women everwhere. Fanny was a tough one though; a true survivor. She had taken a few weeks off to recover from her ordeal but had then returned to work and fought back. She had demanded that a room at the company offices be set aside as a safe woman’s space and had lodged a complaint against the misogynistic joke teller which resulted in his dismissal. Fanny was a true heroine of the struggle.
All in all, the evening had been a resounding success. There had been a slight feeling of discomfort when Frances had suggested that someone should make some sandwiches. The women looked at each-other nervously, each acutely aware of the delicate nature of the topic. Once again though, Fanny had come to the rescue. “Damn” she laughed. “There is never a male feminist around when you need one.Why don’t we just order some take-out?”
Things lightened up a bit after the women had eaten and they finished the evening sipping wine, discussing their vaginas, and whether or not is was possible for a man to be a decent human being? Faye impressed them all by producing a wrinkled tissue in a glass frame. It was a tissue that had once been used to wipe the nose of Gloria Steinem herself!
Fiona was elated. Her support group was going to be a resounding success and as word spread, she was sure she would be able to reach out and offer support to many more victims. She was immensely proud to be associated with these women. They were so strong and brave and determined to display their heroic defiance in the face of the constant misogyny and oppression they experienced every day.
Before leaving, the women stood in a circle, arms raised in a clenched-fist salute and chanted together. “We are women hear us roar.”
No feminists were harmed or even “triggered” during the writing of this story.