Fiona the Feminist was angry. She wanted this job but she bitterly resented the way the patriarchy expected her to dress for the interview. She stood in front of the full-length mirror fuming at how ridiculous she looked. She was wearing a smart white top and a tight pencil skirt. It was the only skirt Fiona owned. Fiona hated skirts. Everybody knew that skirts were invented by men to make it easier for them to rape women. “I might as well paint a target on my back” Fiona thought. Even the heels she wore had been designed by the patriarchy to facilitate the abuse of women. How could a woman possibly run away from a rapist wearing high-heeled shoes? Fiona put a can of mace in her briefcase. She knew that one in four women would be raped during their lifetime. That meant that statistically speaking, nearly two thousand women would be raped in Dublin that day. Fiona the Feminist was not going to become a statistic.
Fiona was well qualified for the position. She flicked through her impressive arsenal of certificates and diplomas, brimming with pride, before putting them in her briefcase. She had a degree in gender studies along with diplomas in patriarchy theory, feminist logic, victimology and male-blaming. She was undoubtedly better educated than anyone she knew and more than capable of the part-time job as an administrator in a law firm. She did understand though that under the patriarchy, her qualifications would mean little if there was a man going for the same job.
The interview was a disaster from the outset. The offices of the company were housed in a massive Georgian building over-looking Stephens Green. Fiona the Feminist was led into a large room furnished with heavy mahogany bookshelves and thick maroon carpets. There was a stink of masculinity about the place. A painting of some army officers in dress uniforms hung over the huge marble fireplace. The green baize of a snooker table could be seen through stained glass doors at one end of the room. Old muskets and bayonets were mounted on one wall; their phallic warning to women, impossible to misinterpret. An Irish tricolour stood in one corner behind a massive desk. This grand reception room had been designed for one purpose only, to intimidate and disempower women. Fiona felt a chill run down her spine. She was standing alone in the lair of the patriarchal beast.
Fiona was invited to take a seat in a large brown leather armchair to wait for her appointment. A portly man in a dark suit came in and introduced himself. He asked Fiona if she would like a coffee or tea. Ha Fiona thought. Did he really think she would fall for that?
The misogynist then proceeded to ask Fiona all the usual interview questions that are designed to trip women up and give misogynists excuses for not hiring them. “How are your IT skills” – “What do you expect to gain from working here?” – “What can you bring to the company? ” – “What kind of experience do you have?” Some of the questions were so obviously the product of normalized rape culture that Fiona was beginning to feel quite ill. Everyone knew what “Are you flexible?” really meant…… “What kind of experience do you have?” was also a question that was obviously used to demean and objectify women. Fiona the Feminist took a brave stand. She refused to answer that question.
The portly misogynist appeared to be a little taken aback by Fiona’s defiance. He tried a different approach in yet another effort to humiliate her.
“So do you know anything about Irish law?” the misogynist growled.
“Well I do know that it discriminates against women.” Fiona replied confidently.
“Ehmm, actually it doesn’t. It is illegal to discriminate against women.”
“Well in my gender studies course I learned”…. Fiona began; but she was cut short
“I don’t know what it says in gender studies, but I do know what it says in the constitution of the Irish Republic”
“A constitution written by men.” Fiona countered – Ha she thought. Beat that!
“Yes” the misogynist replied, “and one that guarantees equal rights for women.”
Fiona’s brain began to freeze. This was the oldest trick in the misogynist rule book. When misogynists felt cornered they would always counter with things they called “facts” from what they called “history”.
Fiona remained silent. There was no point in arguing with this idiot. What did he know about gender studies? He was a perfect example of why Ireland needed more feminists in the education system.
The misogynist kept up a barrage of inappropriate questions including “Would you be prepared to work unsocial hours if required?” Fiona was well aware of what that meant. “No” she answered. I need my time off for my work on the struggle for equality.
“Oh” said the misogynist, “equality for whom?”
Fiona the Feminist searched deep inside herself for something to help her remain calm in the face of the this offensive onslaught. She found salvation in the words of the famous Irish feminist Annie Breanach, otherwise known as Angry Annie, who had once stunned the world with her profoundly iconic utterance – “Women are people too”. Fiona used a strategy she had learned in her latest anti-misogyny course. She was proud of they way her training just kicked in. She allowed the chant to rise slowly in her mind. -Women are people too. -Women are people too. -Women are people too. It worked. Fiona could envision the proud words of Angry Annie holding firm against the full frontal assault of masculinized “logic”. The mans mouth was still moving but Fiona just felt the words pass harmlessly over her, batted away by the heroic words of Angry Annie.
Fiona the Feminist shook a little as she walked down Grafton Street in the bright August sun. She turned left at the statue of Molly Malone. In Dublin she thought, even statues of women were designed to be symbols of their own oppression. What kind of society did she live in? It was enough to make even a proud warrior for equality cry. Fiona stifled her tears. She marched on with stoic determination towards Temple Bar. Temple Bar, The Irish Womans Union, and safety.
There was a aura of gentle female serenity in the cafe attached to the Irish Womans Union in Temple Bar. The walls were covered with paintings donated by victims of oppression and daubed with quotes from the heroines of past struggles. Fiona’s favourite was called “study of an angry vagina” by Fanny Feltbottom. That woman was a genius.
Fiona began to relax over her lunch of organic vegetarian ragu made with ingredients supplied by a woman only agricultural project in Outer Mongolia. She looked at the wonderful strong women sitting at the tables around her. She was among people who understood.
Fiona the Feminist knew she wouldn’t be offered the job. It was a law firm after all. They probably spent most of their time defending rapists in court and stripping divorced women of their assets. They certainly wouldn’t want an intrepid soldier of the sisterhood to have access to their sinister club. She knew she had won a small victory though. They had been afraid of her. She had seen confusion in the misogynist’s eyes just as she had drowned her own fear in the immortal words of Angry Annie. She had stared down the patriarchy and the patriarchy had blinked. She had stood defiantly in the belly of the beast and she had survived. “I’m a woman,” Fiona smiled to herself, feeling a new surge of defiance “I’m a woman hear me roar.”
No feminists were harmed during the writing of this story.