Sunday, 31 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Nine

Three Months Later.

Amy's weekend was taken up with a recruitment drive for Female Dawn. Donning her white jumpsuit with the universal symbol for femaleness emblazoned upon it, Amy had worked tirelessly, handing out flyers and talking to prospective members. She had got a real buzz out of knowing she was helping the movement.

It was particularly important that Amy should be seen hard at work for the movement for last week she had been appointed as Leader of the Youth Section for her town. It had been an awesome honour when Dr Craig, the leader of the movement in the town, had put the blue sash that denoted her rank on her and shook her hand in congratulation.

Amy suspected that Dr Craig had pushed for Amy to be given the position over some of the older girls and so she desperately wanted to prove that she had been the right choice.

So Amy handed out flyers until they were all gone and talked to so many would be members that her voice was almost gone. But, thankfully, Dr Craig, trying to recruit adults into the movement had smiled in approval at her efforts.

After helping to pack up, Amy made her way across the park towards home. She was halfway across the park when she saw something that made her heart jump in alarm. A group of Alphas was heading towards her. Four of them.

In stark contrast to the uniform worn by the the female movement, the Alphas wore black jumpsuits and of course wore the symbol that denoted maleness. Amy forced herself to walk past them, rather than run away, and made herself hold her head high. She was not ashamed to be a member of Female Dawn. Quite the opposite.

The four youths, who looked sinister in the black uniforms, gave Amy looks of scorn, kept on walking. Amy breathed a sigh of relief as she turned her head slightly and saw the youths still walking in the opposite direction.

The Alpha movement was growing in this town. It was no big surprise, as the town had been hit especially hard in the recession and male unemployment was higher than the national average. There were a lot of disaffected men who resented losing their jobs whilst their wives and girlfriends kept theirs. The number of black uniforms to be seen around the streets had become more common than even a month ago.

This was worrying, in Amy's view. If the Alphas were growing so quickly, they could concievably win political power at local and national levels. This very town could be run by the Alphas before long. Female Dawn was growing too, but not as quickly as the Alphas.

Amy spent a restless night worrying about the situation.

The following day, a sunday, the movement set up shop in an unfamiliar place, a grubby shoping mall in one of the working class districts of the town. It had been Dr Craig's idea. She was concerned by the disproportionate numbers of upper and middle class girls joining the movement as compared to the very small number of girls from working class backgrounds.

"We must not been seen to be some sort of chic sorority cliche, so we must entice more girls from less privileged backgrounds into the movement" Dr Craig had declared.

Amy and her sisters in the movement did their best, but most of the girls who walked past just ignored them. It didn't help that, in many cases, the girls were in the company of their fathers or boyfriends. This would have discouraged them from showing any interest in the movement, Amy thought.

Two hours into the recruitment drive, Amy noted with dismay that a bunch of Alphas had turned up. In spite of the black uniforms, Amy could tell that all of them to a man were local louts, probably unemployed (and unemployable). Their unshaven faces, shaggy hair and BO (which was overpowering even though the louts stood ten feet away) gave the game away. These were not committed activists, but troublemakers.

The dozen or so men stood there, jeering at the women and girls running the stall, telling them to give up and go home to their men, hurling obscenities at them. Needless to say, the women and girls that Female Dawn hoped to recruit were giving the men - and the stall - a wide berth. It would take a brave woman or girl to be seen in the company of the members of Female Dawn.

The leader of the men, an obnoxious brute with rings in his ears and nose and tattoos that were visible on his neck and hands, suggested that the girls should pack up their little stall and go home. They were not welcome around here. This was an Alpha stronghold.

Dr Craig stood her ground and retorted that Female Dawn had every right to be here and that they should be the ones to go home as they were obviously drunk and upsetting everyone.

"Upsetting everyone? Upsetting everyone?" said the leader, imitating Dr Craig's slightly upper class accent "Listen love, we haven't even STARTED upsetting you yet!" Spying a market stall that sold vegetables and eggs, the leader and his gang seized upon its contents. The stall holder, an elderly small man, protested, but he was shoved aside. The man got up and ran off as fast as his legs could carry him.

Picking up a tray full of eggs, the leader began pelting the Female Dawn members with them. Composed and as dignified as they could be under the circumstances, the women and girls withstood the onslaught. Cabbages, cauliflowers, tomatos and even whole cucumbers were used as ammunition but the members of Female Dawn merely grimly locked arms, willing to take whatever was thrown at them.

The gang had clearly expected a pack of what was basically a bunch of toffee-nosed schoolgirls and a few old maids to scarper at the merest whiff of trouble and leave the Alphas in control of the field of battle.

Instead, to their consternation and confusion, although the girls were covered in egg yoke and tomato and the floor around them was covered in vegetables and eggshells, the girls remained, more defiant than ever. The gang, having exhausted their ammunition, were at a loss. Their exercise in intimidation had failed.

At that point the stall holder returned, with the local police in tow. The stall holder pointed excitedly at the men and exclaimed "That's them, officer, wot pushed me over and ransacked my stall. Look at it! Just look at it! All my stock! Gone! Ruddy hooligans!"

The Police Sergeant, a tall, broad man with an air of one used to being in command of any given situation, said "Calm down, sir, and let me and the boys do our job". The Sergeant was accompanied by four male constables who seemed to be in thrall to him.

The Sergeant walked over to the gang, who, surprisingly, had not bolted. It was soon obvious why. The Sergeant approached the leader and said "Ray, how are you doing, me old mate?"

Ray smirked in the direction of the women and girls "I'm very well thanks, Sergeant Walker. Got a little trouble with these women here, but nothing I can't handle".

Sergeant Walker pointed in the direction of the stall keeper "This gentleman here says you and your boys.." at this point, the Sergeant took out his notebook, flipped it over to the relevant page and dictated from it "did most grieviously assault the said gentleman and thereupon stole his merchandise, namely half a hundred weight of cabbages and over assorted vegetables and some five hundred eggs". The Sergeant shook his head "Really Ray, did you and your boys do this? Knowing you to be of sound character as I do, I can scarcely believe it!"

Ray laughed, and his gang, following his cue, chuckled also "I would say, Sergeant Walker, that the gentleman is mistaken. He IS old after all. Probably doesn't know what day of the week it is! Do we look like the sort of people who would do such things, such fine upstanding citizens as us?"

"Unfortunately Ray, and I'm really sorry about this, truly I am, but I'm going to have to take you and your boys down to the station for further questioning. Just doing my job, you understand, nothing personal".

Ray shrugged "Of course, Sergeant. And a fine job you do too, if I may be as so bold to say so!"

The Sergeant nodded in acknowledgement of the compliment. Then he turned to his subordinates.

"Haskins!"bellowed the Sergeant "Get these men into the van".

"Right away, Sarge! All right you lot, follow me!"

The Female Dawn members watched, and breathed a sigh of relief, as the gang meekly got into the police van.

But the Sergeant wasn't finished. He marched up to the stall "Right, which of you lot is in charge?"

Dr Craig stepped forward "That would be me, Sergeant". She proferred a hand "Dr Craig".

The Sergeant pointedly ignored the hand and Dr Craig, realising this, withdrew it as subtely as she was able. It was not a good omen.

There was an uneasy pause. Then the Sergeant spoke "Well, Dr Craig, you and your bunch of troublemakers are under arrest!"

"What! " exclained Dr Craig, shocked "But we haven't done anything! It was those men...."

"Silence!" bellowed the Sergeant. Even Dr Craig was momentarily cowed into silence by the stentorian voice of the Sergeant. Lowering his voice by several octaves, the Sergeant said "Haven't done anything? Let me see....pitching up a stall without authorisation, unlawful assembly, causing a disturbance of the peace, wasting police time...and those are just for starters Dr bleeding brainbox! By the time we get you down to the station you'll have had more charges than a cavalry brigade!"

The other officers chuckled.

Amy's heart sank. It was clear that they weren't going to get any justice from the local police. They were probably sympathisers of the local Alpha movement and quite possibly even closet members.

Dr Craig protested vehemently, as did everyone else, but it was to no avail. They were bundled into the van and taken to the station and put through the humiliation of being processed like common thieves.

As a minor, Amy's parents had to be informed of her arrest. They came to pick her up. The charges against her had been dropped, as Dr Craig had assumed full responsibility for the behaviour of her charges.

Mother had brought a spare change of clothes. She was angry, with Amy, that much was clear. "Get that uniform off and give it to me!" Mother ordered. Angry herself at the injustice meted out to her and her sisters by the very people who were supposed to uphold the law, Amy took off her sticky uniform. Mother turned to her husband "What did I tell you, Walter? No good would come of Amy being part of this woman's lib movement. And I was right! In trouble with the police! I have never been so ashamed of you as I am at this moment Amy!"

Amy's face burned with humiliation at these words "But Mother.."

"Don't but me, girl! You are grounded for the foreseeable future and you will leave this Female Dawn club. It's clearly leading you down the wrong path and this uniform is going on the nearest bonfire!".

Amy seethed. It's not a girls' club like the brownies, but a movement of women! And no way am I parting with that uniform!

At the moment though, Amy knew that it was pointless arguing with her mother when she was in this mood. Miserably, she got changed and trailed after her parents. She wondered what would happen to Dr Craig. Amy's heart smouldered with resentment at the unfairness of it all.

We will prevail was her enduring thought as she departed from the police station.

Amy and Antony - Part Eight

Two Days Later.

It was Monday morning and Anthony was studying his appearance very carefully. The new uniform looked good on him, he decided. Almost made to measure.

Now came the hard bit. Getting out of the house before his parents saw him. Well, his mother at any rate. Antony's father would still be in bed. He was rarely ever out of it. Since he had lost his job at the steel mill five years ago and had to rely on his wife to support him, he had fallen into a stupor. It was almost if he was too ashamed to leave the house and have to admit that his wife was the breadwinner.

Mum had not only kept her job at the local council, but had gained a couple of promotions and, of course, increases in salary. Thanks to her, the family enjoyed a relatively high standard of living. She gave Antony a generous amount of pocket money in exchange for chores, which Antony was pleased to do.

Antony was the only child. But that had not always been the case. He had had an older sister, Marcia, but she had died in a traffic accident seven years ago. Antony's mother had been grief-stricken and there was still an aura of sadness about her. Antony had only dim memories of his sister, for he had been young when she had died, but a photograph of her still hung beside one of Antony in the front room. Though long dead, Marcia was still part of the family.

Antony wondered what his sister would think of him of she could see him now. Perhaps she could see him from heaven.

Antony heard the bathroom door slam. Good, Antony thought. That would be his mother. This was his chance. Picking up his bag, he crept out of his bedroom and gently closed the door behind him. He slowly moved past his parent's bedroom from which he could hear his father snoring loudly and silently moved down the stairs. He got to the front door and opened it.

He called up to the bathroom "Bye Mum!". He thought he heard a reply, but if there had been one, it was muffled by the bathroom door. Antony quickly stepped out of the house, closed the door behind him and walked quickly towards the bus stop at the end of the road. The 29 would be along in a few minutes and he would be at school in less than quarter of an hour.

Some other pupils and some members of the public were at the bus stop and their eyes widened at the sight of Antony. The girls began giggling. The boys looked at him with disdain. Antony had expected these reactions but ignored them. The bus came along and the driver gave Antony a strange look as he flashed his bus pass in his direction and mounted the stairs to the top deck.

Antony had to endure more giggles and looks before the bus pulled in at the stop right outside the school. Antony got off the bus and hurried to his first lesson. Double Physics. Ignoring the looks from other pupils along the way to the classroom, he entered and took his place at the nearest desk.

The teacher, Mr Maxwell, did a double take when he saw Antony. He could hardly believe what he was seeing.

When he was finally able to speak, Mr Maxwell said "Mr Starling, what is the meaning of this?"

Antony looked non-plussed "The meaning of what, sir?"

Mr Maxwell snarled "Don't play the innocent with me, boy! You know very well what I'm talking about! Why are you in my class, wearing a girl's school uniform?"

Antony was indeed wearing the uniform as prescribed for girl pupils at this school. He wore a plain white blouse with the school tie. Underneath the thin blouse, bra straps were clearly visible. He wore the school blazer, but that was unisex, and a grey pleated skirt that fell to just above his bare knees which definitely wasn't unisex. He wore the white woollen socks and the clumpy black shoes.

Wearing the uniform would have been bad enough in Mr Maxwell's book, but Antony had gone further. He carried a handbag. His fingernails were varnished and he wore bangles on his wrists. His face had a light layer of make up and his longish hair was brushed to frame his face, just like a girl's would have been. He also wore a necklace.

To Mr Maxwell's fury, Antony gave him a gentle shrug "Because I wanted to, sir. It suits me, don't you think?"

Mr Maxwell's face became redder "I most certainly do not! It's an outrage! School policy clearly states that boys should not wear girls' uniforms and vice versa!"

"Oh? And precisely where does it say that sir?"

Mr Maxwell was taken aback. Now that he thought about it, there was no written rule about pupil's dress that he could recall. It was really custom that laid down what the sexes should, and should not, wear.

Flustered and angry at being caught out, Mr Maxwell said "Well....I don't know! But it must be written down somewhere. In the School Charter perhaps".

But infuriatingly, Starling was shaking his head "I checked, sir. On the internet. Where all the legal documents for the school are available for anyone to see. I've also checked all the minutes of the school council since the year dot right up to last week's meeting. Nowhere does it say anything about what pupils should wear".

Mr Maxwell was exasperated. This matter was now beyond him. He would have no choice but to take Starling off to that arch feminist, Dr Craig.

"Right Starling, you're to come with me to see the Headmistress. The rest of you, open your books at page 43 and start reading. I'll be doing a quiz at the end of the lesson, so no slacking!"

In spite of Mr Maxwell's instructions, the class began chattering excitedly as soon as Mr Maxwell and Antony departed.

Five minutes later, Antony was standing in front of the Headmistress's desk. He clutched his handbag firmly. He had no idea what Dr Craig was going to do with him.

Mr Maxwell was speaking to Dr Craig "Headmistress, never have I had a boy openly flouting convention and the authority of the school as much as this one has! He should be sent home. Suspended!"

Dr Craig looked at the flustered man coolly "I will decide what to do with Mr Starling. You may return to your class". Mr Maxwell looked at Dr Craig, as if he was going to challenge her, but thought better of it and stomped out of the room.

Antony was now alone with the formidable Headmistress.

Dr Craig got him to explain his reasons for coming to school dressed as he was. Antony reitrated pretty much the conversation he had had with Mr Maxwell earlier.

Dr Craig smiled "You are quite right, young man. There is nothing to say that a boy cannot come to school in a skirt if he wishes. However, much as I applaud your desire to dress as you choose, I have to think of the image of the school. At the moment, it is not appropriate for you to come to school dressed as you are currently. You are suspended from class for the rest of the day and if you come in to school tomorrow dressed as you are, I will have no choice but to suspend you for a longer period".

"But...Dr Craig...this is wrong! I haven't broken any rules! I thought you of all people would support me!"

Dr Craig sighed "It is wrong. But I am the Headmistress of this school. I have to do what is right for the school and that is to forbid you from wearing a girl's uniform and all the other paraphenalia. It's simply too controversial and disruptive to the running of the school to allow you to have your way. And that is my final decision on the subject".

Antony felt like crying. He so wanted to attend school dressed as he was and to be accepted. But he knew that taking on Dr Craig and disobeying her would be a bad move. He miserably asked to be excused.

Dr Craig dismissed him with a wave of her hand. Antony walked to the door and grasped the handle when he was arrested by Dr Craig's voice.

"Oh, and by the way, Mr Starling, you do look very elegant and feminine in that uniform, if that's any consolation, and speaking as a feminist and not the Headmistress, I admire your courage and desire to change the conventions of gender. It's such a shame that you weren't born a girl".

Antony's heart lifted at these words, so much so that he almost bounced home.

But, as he recounted Dr Craig's words, he became intrigued by them. Dr Craig had kind of hinted that although now was not the right time to defy convention, there would be a right time at some point in the future.

Antony hoped that that day would come soon.

Amy and Antony - Part Seven

One Day Later.

Amy was hard at work, clearing out her dresser and wardrobe. Dresses, blouses, skirts and even underwear were stuffed into bin liners.

Amy's mother was dumbfounded "But, Amy, why are you doing this? All those lovely clothes!" She pulled out a tartan dress from one of the sacks. "You can't throw this out! We bought it for you on your thirteenth birthday!"

Amy shrugged "I'm now a member of Female Dawn, mother. The rules are very simple and strict. Members are to refrain from wearing dresses, skirts and feminine undergarments are much as possible. I'll still have to wear a skirt to school, of course, but outside of school I won't wear a dress or skirt!"

Amy's mother stared at her as if she had gone mad. Tears began to form in her eyes "What's got into you Amy? You were such a sweet little girl".

Amy felt a residue of pity for her mother, but she was firm "I'm not a little girl any more, Mother, I'm a woman".

Amy's mother wiped away her tears "It's that Female Dawn movement that's done this to you!"

"Female Dawn hasn't done anything to me, mother. I choose to abide by the rules. You should join yourself!"

"You must be joking! Join a bunch of trouser wearing feminists? Never!"

Amy shrugged again. Her mother was being foolish, but it wasn't really her fault. She had been brought up in a different era when women had to be feminine and docile and she didn't know how to be anything else. If she would only come along to a few Female Dawn meetings, she'd realise that she could be more than a housewife. Amy was determined to keep working on her until she relented.

That was another rule. Members had to recruit as many of their female relatives and friends as possible. Males, of course, were not allowed to join. There had been some debate about whether to have a men's section, but it was decided that the risk of infiltration by the Alphas was too great.

Amy picked up her make up bag. A surge of emotion went through her as she remembered that her mother had bought her this bag and all of the cosmetics within and had said that she was old enough, woman enough, to use make up. Amy had been proud to graduate to womanhood but now she realised that make up was just another tool to turn women into airheaded dolls for the benefit of men. She tossed the bag into a sack without a second thought.

Amy was momentarily startled when she suddenly realised that she was not alone. She turned around to see her younger brother, Tom, hovering by the door.

"I wish you wouldn't sneak up on me like that!" Amy snapped at him.

"Sorry, sis" said Tom in a gentle voice.

Amy's anger quickly subsided. Tom was not like most boys. He was gentle, kind and affectionate. Amy remembered once, some years ago, her friend Ellie had come over to play and they had played weddings. Tom had been roped in of course to be the groom. The girls had worn bridesmaids dresses, but Tom had shyly asked if he could be a bride too. Giggling, the girls had put him in a dress and let him be a bride too. He had looked pretty convincing as a girl and he had clearly enjoyed the experience.

But Amy's parents had not been amused when they arrived home unexpectedly and found their son in a bridesmaid's dress. He was ordered to resume his normal clothes at once and Amy was sent to bed early as a punishment after getting a stern telling off from her father.

In some ways, Tom would have made a better daughter than Amy.

"What are you doing sis?" Tom asked her.

"I'm clearing out my old things".

"What are you gonna do with them?" Tom asked her.

"Oh, I don't know. Take them to a charity shop, I suppose. Some of theses clothes are almost brand new".

"Can.....I have some of them? Please".

Amy was astonished at the request "What do you want with them?" she asked him, but had already guessed the answer.

Tom's head was bowed low. He was very embaressed. "I want to, you know, wear them when mother and father aren't around".

Amy looked at him in astonishment and then shrugged "Ok. Help yourself to whatever you want" she said. She watched in amusement as her brother took the tartan dress, a couple of other dresses, a few skirts, some tights and frilly knickers and rapidly departed, probably to find a place to hide them.

Amy found it highly amusing that just as she was abandoning her femininity, her brother was exploring and adopting his femininity.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Six

Three months later

Amy sidled into the meeting hall, feeling nervous and yet excited at the sight before her.

The room was filled with women and girls. There was not a single male to be seen. The organisers had squeezed in as many chairs as possible but it was still likely that many of the attendees would have to stand.

The stage was decked out with long tables and chairs for each of the speakers and a podium. There was also a projector sitting on a small table and a projector screen. But these details were completely overshadowed by the white banners hanging from the walls behind the stage.

Printed upon the banners, in a bold blue, was the universal symbol for femaleness, and underneath, the words "Female Dawn".

All of the women present waited expectantly until, a few minutes later, four women appeared on the stage. Each of them was dressed in a white jumpsuit with the symbol for femaleness printed on the left breast.

Amy recognised one of the women immediately. It was her Headmistress, Dr Craig.

The four women on stage all looked very solemn and serious.

Without being prompted, the audience burst into applause.

Dr Craig walked over to the podium and waited until the applause died down.

"First, and most importantly, thank you for attending the first ever meeting of the Female Dawn movement. It gladdens our hearts to see so many women here!"

Dr Craig paused as the audience applauded once more.

Dr Craig next introduced her co-speakers. Dr Natalie O'Toole was an eminent psychologist who had high ranking politicians, celebrities and military personnel as her patients, Professor Esme Keith was the foremost academician on women's history and women's studies and had written many books about those subjects. Dame Veronica Riche was a self-made millionnairess who had built a food empire out of her kitchen and who had won her title for her charity work to help girls from disadvantaged backgrounds through scholarships and financial aid to help them do better at school.

Amy, and the rest of the audience, politely applauded as each guest speaker was introduced.

Dr Craig then set her face into a more serious expression.

"Now, Ladies, for the reason why we are here. What Female Dawn is all about. I bet you're probably wondering".

The audience nodded in agreement.

"Let me enlighten you, my sisters" said Dr Craig "We women have come a long way since the days when our aspirations were confined by society to marrying a man, keeping house for him and bringing up his children. We stand on the brink of actually taking control of everything. Political power. The economy. Monetary and non-monetary wealth. Everything!"

The women, Amy included, held their breath in awe.

"But, sisters, all we have won and hope to achieve is in peril! The male of the species, frightened out of his wits at the prospect of women having complete control over their own lives and having greater power in the world than they have ever had before, is re-grouping and organising a backlash to take away all that we have earned!"

"Our main opponent is, of course, that pernicious and misguided organisation, the Alpha Movement. Preaching the virtues of masculine rule and bemoaning that society has become dysfunctional as a direct result of the diminuation of male authority. They are seeking political power to form a government and to, as they put it "heal the wounds caused to the fabric of society caused by feminism. And they are gaining a significant following".

The women in the audience looked at each other in dismay.

"We can't let the Alpha Movement gain too much power in the political system. Were that to happen, we women, all of us here, would find our world once again reduced to the home and the cradle. But fear not, my sisters, together we can stop them! How?, I hear you ask, by forming our own political party. Female Dawn".

Everyone in the audience had already guessed what the solution might be, but enthusiastically clapped anyway.

"Already Female Dawn meetings are being held in every major town and city to alert our sisters to the threat facing them. We must remain united and together we will ride and overcome the tide of male supremacy that threatens to overwhelms us! I urge you to join the movement!"

Dr Craig's speech was so passionate, so sincere, that everyone in the audience jumped to their feet in unison and applauded for several minutes.

For the first time that evening, Dr Craig's lips formed a smile.

Dr Craig turned the meeting over to the first guest speaker, Dr O'Toole. Dr O'Toole spoke at length about the male psyche, using the projector to illustrate her points. Gleaned from over forty years as a psychologist, Dr O'Toole shared with the audience her observations of the psychologies of both sexes. Whilst the female pysche tended to be stable and rational, the male psyche was afflicted by aggressive tendencies, loss of focus and irrational and unpredictable behaviour due to a lack of self control.

Based on this evidence, Dr O'Toole pointed out, it was as clear which sex was better equipped psychologically to wield power in society. Yet, the Alpha Movement advocated that power be held by the sex whose psychological balance was more prone to dysfunction! On the basis of psychology, the male of the species was unquestionably the weaker sex.

Professor Keith was next up. She expounded on the raw deal women had been getting since the days of Eve, the years of struggle to get the vote and then more decades of struggle for women to get anything like equal status with men, and this had still not quite been attained. Now though, with many more girls than boys graduating from university, more women in senior positions in every sphere of society than ever before and even more women in the workforce than men, the tables were turning! The balance of power was rapidly tilting in favour of womankind.

At some point in the future, for the first time in recorded human history, the world would be dominated by the stronger sex: the female.

"Sisters!" said Professor Keith "We girls all know instinctively from an early age which is the stronger sex. We do better at school from day one than boys right through to postgraduate studies. We are more focused, more determined, more driven to succeed. Women are doers and get things done. Men get easily distracted by pleasure and put the serious business of life off. They assume that they are superior to women merely because they are male, but fail to realise that without ability and application they are doomed to failure, and are too trapped by their notions of what it is to be man to ever change. Sisters, we are the stronger sex. We have always been the stronger sex and always will be!"

There was rapturous applause to that speech!

Dame Riche was the final speaker. It was an old cliche, Dame Riche observed, but valid in any point in history and most especially the present day, "Women mean Business!" Dame Riche, a student herself of history, could scarcely credit that any society would be so short-sighted to exclude from the conduct of business the sex best qualified to perform it! Dame Riche recounted her own experience. The daughter of a successful businessman, she had quickly learned with bitterness how patriarchal society operated, as her father made no secret of the fact that when he passed on, his assets would go to Dame Riche's younger brother, in line with tradition.

Dame Riche, who had known herself to be a natural businesswoman, whilst her brother, though charming, was a dilettante in such matters, rejected her father's proposal that she should train to be a secretary and ultimately become her brother's assistant and moved out of the family home forever.

Difficult times followed. Dame Riche had to take waitressing jobs and jobs filing paperwork in order to make ends meet but she never lost sight of the dream and bore every humiliation and setback with a smile. Finally, at the age of twenty, she had amassed enough savings to start her own bakery business. From that point, she had never looked back. Within three years, she had become a millionnairess in her own right. Another three years later and she controlled a vast empire of business interests.

In the meantime, her father's business had not done so well. Dame Riche bought him out and put him out to pasture. She remembered the shock on her father's face when she revealed that it had been she who had acquired his company and the sudden knowledge that, out of all of the family, she had the business brains, and he had failed to see past outmoded notions of gender roles.

Her brother, effectively disinherited and without a role, begged her for a job. He was now HER Personal Assistant!

The ladies clapped loudly at that!

Dame Riche said that women were better at business than men. It was undeniable. Any business run by a woman, where the majority of the board were female, or even where a junior management team was mostly female saw increased profits and returns. A female run business invariably outperformed male competitors in the same sector. Even in investment banking and stock market futures, women's judgement was more often on the money than those of the men. Dame Riche showed facts and figures on the projector.

Women mean Business! was Dame Riche's closing statement.

There was more rapturous applause.

Dr Craig resumed control of the meeting "Sisters! You have heard today of the massive, yes massive, potential of our sex to change society for the better and to take control of the world for the good of all, be they female or male! This noble goal is within our grasp. But, as you have also heard, our destiny is threatened by attempts by the discontented male sex through political agitation to turn back the clock!"

Dr Craig's face was set in a most determined frame.

"This abominable scenario will never happen sisters! As long as we stand together! Join the movement! Help us along the road to a Female Dawn!"

Sweat poured from the brow of Dr Craig as she finished her speech and she slumped slightly, clinging to the podium for support.

Everyone present, leapt to their feet and gave Dr Craig a thunderous round of applause that lasted for well over ten minutes.

Dr Craig was now beaming "Thank you, my sisters! Your response has given the movement what it most needs in these dark times for womankind: Hope for a bright future for us women. Now, please prove your commitment to the future we all desire by joining the movement!"

Amy, fired up with passion to support the movement with the last strength of her body, hastened to the stand set up for enrolling new members. She had to wait a long time, aware that her father was waiting outside in his car to take her home. By the time she got to the stand, she realised with dismay that even the fee for the junior section of the movement was in excess of what she had in her purse.

The woman running the stand was about to turn Amy away with an air of disdain, when Amy felt a hand fall on her slender shoulder. "Enroll this sister immediately! I will pay for the cost of her membership!"

The membership secretary hastened to comply.

Amy turned around to see Dr Craig, looking at her with approval "I am greatly pleased to see you here sister!" she said.

Sister! Not Amy, or girl, or some other label a headmistress might apply to a female pupil under her control.

She was addressing her as an equal!

Amy was flustered, but determined "Dr Craig, I can't let you pay for me!"

Dr Craig said "Believe me, Amy, seeing you here is worth more than a few pounds. The movement has just been born, but already we are looking to the future. We anticipate that the struggle may take some years, even decades, before we achieve the desired outcome. You, Amy, are the future of the movement!"

Amy was stunned.

"Yes, we anticipate that you should be the next leader of the movement! You've indicated by your actions so far that you have the talents and abilities to drive the movement forward, when your time comes!"

Dr Craig paused for a long moment and then said

"You ARE ready for leadership?"

Amy faltered, but only for a moment and said "Yes" in a firm voice.

"Wonderful! I sense that you will be a powerful force within the movement! A great force!"

Amy was stunned when Dr Craig hugged her. It was the last thing she had expected.

"Sister! Our minds are as one, I know it. Women are destined to rule! Men to serve. All the statistics show that women and girls are outperforming men and boys at every of education and gaining more and more jobs. It's time that women ruled!"

Amy said "I agree!".

"Good! Work towards it, Amy! One day, the world will be a woman's world!"

Amy hoped so, in her heart.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part 5

Three months later

Amy took Antony's small, delicate hands in her own and gave them a gentle squeeze. The poor boy was so nervous. Antony gave her one of his sweet smiles in reply.

He had no reason to be scared. Not really. If anything, he should have been calm and relaxed and happy, for all of his problems had been solved.

Amy's mother had gone to see Antony's overbearing father, who had beaten him and was threatening to send him off to a military academy to toughen him up. What was said between the two parents, no-one would ever know. But it had the desired effect. Antony had received no more beatings and there was no more talk of him going off to any academy, military or otherwise.

Added to that, Antony and Amy were now firm friends. Antony's obvious liking for everything feminine greatly amused Amy. He would often sleep over, in a set of her PJ's.

It had been Amy's idea for them to attend ballroom dancing classes, an extra-cirricula activity held on Wednesday evenings, to engage together socially and in public.

To her surprise, Amy saw her old nemesis, Barry Brooks, elegantly attired in evening dress, leading his new girlfriend, Sandi Winters, a petite and pretty girl, out to dance. Perhaps feminine influence was softening the former bully.

Amy and Antony had been coming for two weeks now and were not much further forward. Barry and Sandi were experts by comparison. It was a funny role reversal. In the classroom, Amy was the star performer and Barry was the dunce. In the ballroom, it was the other way around.

The problem, Amy had to admit, was her partner. That such a small, slender and delicate youth as Antony could be so awkward and clumsy had greatly surprised her. Dancing with Antony was become torture.

Miss Fontanye, the middle-aged Dance Mistress, who frequently boasted to anyone who would listen about her earlier career as a professional ballerina, was patient and prepared to spend time with them, but the simple fact was that Antony was no good at dancing.

Amy had to resist the urge to squeal loudly as Antony stepped on her foot again and she squeaked, which sounded ridiculous. As Antony was apologising for the umpteenth time that evening, Miss Fontanye came over.

She wore a frown on her brow. "You two being together is no good" she said firmly. "You both need new partners". Amy and Antony pleaded with her not to split them up, but Miss Fontayne stood her ground.

"Barry, please take Amy as your partner for the rest of the evening. Antony, Sandi will be your partner. Perhaps with more experienced partners, you will both improve!"

Amy and Antony, and Barry and Sandi, gave each other wistful glances as they parted.

Barry was a good partner. For such a big boy, he was surprisingly gentle and light on his feet. For the first time since coming to these classes, Amy was beginning to enjoy herself. It was such a pity that she couldn't enjoy the experience with Antony.

There was a loud cry. From Sandi. Miss Fontayne rushed over "What's the matter?" she asked.

Sandi, almost in tears, pointed at Antony "It's him! That's the fourth time he's trod on my toes! He's no good at leading. I'm almost having to take the lead myself!"

After comforting Sandi and sending her back to re-join Barry, Miss Fontayne took Amy and Antony aside. Amy feared that they were about to be asked to leave the class.

But Miss Fontayne was smiling "Thanks to Sandi, and to my own observations, I believe I've identified Antony's problem. He can't lead. Many men can't, at first, but soon pick it up with experience. But Antony should have developed some skill in leading by now, but hasn't".

"What's the solution, Miss Fontayne?"

"It's an unusual answer, but a very simple one. You two should switch roles. Amy, you lead and Antony, you follow her. Try it".

Feeling awkward and a little foolish, Amy tried it. At first, it felt all wrong to be playing the man's part and treating Antony as if he was the girl, but there was no denying that it was effective. Following her lead had transformed Antony into a half decent dancer.

When they had finished, Miss Fontanye and the rest of the class, who had been watching their performance, clapped loudly. "Bravo to you both. I believe we have our first couple where the woman leads and the man follows! Quite unique!"

Over the next few weeks, the unique couple's dancing improved dramatically and only Barry and Sandi could boast a better performance. Miss Fontanye commented that never had she seen a pair of pupils improve so much in such a brief space of time.

After their eighth week, Miss Fontayne took Amy and Antony aside. "There's a competition on this weekend. For beginners, like yourselves. I think you're good enough to take part. How do you feel about it?"

Amy and Antony were both excited about it. What an accolode, to be asked to take part in an actual competition!

"We'd very much like to take part" said Amy, speaking for both of them.

"Good! Let's see what the judges make of seeing a girl take the lead...."

The competition was a success from Amy and Antony's point of view, of the dancing at any rate. They had performed the steps perfectly and gracefully. But they had seen the judges' jaws drop at the sight of a girl leading a boy out and performing his role brilliantly, whilst he performed hers with equal excellence.

But the judges could not fault the quality of the dancing and so the first role-reversed dance couple won the cup for their age group.

The members of the press present picked up on this unique event and asked for photos and comments. Once Amy and Antony had finished posing for photos, and were about to leave, one of the journalists, a young woman, caught up with them.

"Hold up you two" she said "I've got a proposition for you! I've come up with another angle for this story!"

Amy and Antony looked at her, mystified.

"Yep" continued the woman "I reckon I should take another photo of you, but that you switch clothes. I can just see it now....she takes his pants as well as his role! It'll be a scream! What do you say?"

Amy wasn't keen. It all sounded a bit over the top to her. Was it really necessary to trade clothes to get the point across that she and Antony had gone against convention, and succeeded too? She didn't think so. Antony seemed doubtful too. Amy had no doubt that he wouldn't mind wearing her dress, but if his parents ever saw the photo he could be in hot water.

Seeing them looking doubtful, the reporter said "Aw, come on guys! It's a bit of fun. I'll tell you what, if you do it, I'll pay you!" She began to open her handbag to retrieve her purse. The woman pulled out some notes and proferred them.

Amy and Antony looked at each other and nodded "Ok, you've got a deal!" Amy said again.

They were excused so that they could change. Antony was about to go to the boys' changing area, but Amy took his hand firmly and led him into the girls'. All of the other contestants had left by now and it was deserted, so it didn't matter if, horror of horrors, a male entered the inner sanctum of femininity and used it. And as they would only be swapping their outer clothes and shoes, there was little flesh on display.

Amy quickly undid her dress and stepped out of it, clad only in her underwear. She kicked off her high heeled shoes that had made her feel so womanly, and took off her necklace and silk gloves. It took a little longer for Antony to take off his pants, shirt, bow tie, jacket, socks and shoes. He wore a pair of underpants.

Amy handed him her dress, a bright green ballgown with built in petticoats and a bodice studded with fake diamonds to make the gown shimmer, and the matching shoes, necklace and gloves and accepted his clothes in return.

With a little difficulty, Amy put on the outfit. After spending a lot of the day in ballgown and heels, it felt odd to be suddenly fully clothed - only her hands and head were not covered by material - and to not to have to constantly adjust her centre of gravity to accommodate the high heels. The outfit also fit her perfectly.

Antony, meantime, had attired himself more quickly than Amy, and now wore the ballgown, heels, silk gloves and necklace. His shoulders were exposed and Antony's slender legs could be seen beneath the hem of the gown's petticoats. Except for his short hair, he looked very girlish and quite pretty. Antony seemed perfectly comfortable dressed as he was and walked in the high heels with an ease that Amy envied.

They went back to the reporter, who looked them over. Amy had tied her hair back to look more boyish, but the woman insisted she wear her hair down "The point is to make it obvious to our readership that the one wearing the pants is the girl and the one in the frock is the boy! Your friend looks awfuly cute in that dress. He could almost pass for a girl!'

The woman got them to pose together, holding their cup. Then she got Amy to sit down on a bench and for Antony to perch on her knee. Then she snapped one of Amy on her own, holding the cup triumphantly. The final photo was of Antony on his own, executing a curtsey which showed off the frills of his petticoats.

Satisfied, the woman paid them and rushed away, presumably to her next big story. Happy with the money, Amy and Antony got changed and treated themselves to a sundae.

Amy bought a copy of the paper the following day. A whole page had been devoted to her and Antony. The headline was "Leading Lady takes the prize....and her partner's pants!". All four photos were featured. Luckily, as far as Amy knew, neither her parents nor those of Antony bought this paper, so hopefully they would never know.....

Friday, 15 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Four

Three months later.

There had been outrage, not only from most of the girls but from their parents, at the school council's ruling shortening the hem of the regulation skirt. This had been the most serious crisis that the Headmistress, Dr Craig, had had to deal with since she had taken over eighteen months earlier.

Despite her power and authority, Dr Craig had been unable to reverse the decision. She had used her veto to quash it, but, as predicted, Aaron Kemp and his gang had reintroduced the measure at the next meeting and Dr Craig was only allowed to veto a proposal once.

The previous Headteacher had allowed the school council too much power and autonomy, that much had become plain, but changes to the constitution could only come from the school council itself and that was firmly under the control of Kemp and so any change was unlikely to happen.

Over the last few months, other changes to female dress had followed. Girls were now allowed to wear make-up, high heels and jewellery. Some girls, like Tania Noble, girlfriend of the school council President, looked more like hookers than schoolgirls.

It was, Amy firmly believed, an attempt by Aaron Kemp, member of the conservative and reactionary Alpha movement, to force girls to conform to traditional gender stereotypes. If a girl was obsessed with her appearance, her mind wouldn't be on her studies or on asserting her rights.

He had to be stopped. But exactly how that was to be accomplished, Amy did not know. She turned back to the English essay she had been writing on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". Part of the tale involved a girl disguising herself as her brother, wearing male clothing and everything. Amy was reminded of the fact that she was currently wearing a schoolgirl's mini skirt, thanks to Aaron Kemp and his machinations.

If Amy had her way, girls would be allowed to wear trousers, just like the boys. It would be a gesture of equality between the sexes.

There was a knock at her bedroom door. A timid little knock. Thinking it was her little sister, Sonia, Amy was surprised to find of all people Antony Starling standing outside. He was clutching a notepad and his copy of "Twelfth Night".

"I'm struggling with this wretched essay" Antony offered by way of explanation "English Literature isn't my strongest subject".

Amy knew that to be untrue. Antony was near the top of the class in the subject. Only Amy herself scored higher marks. That meant that he had to be here for a different purpose.

To see her?

Amy gestured for him to come in. Of all the boys at her school, Antony or "Toni" as the other boys contemptuously dubbed him for his small, girlish figure and features and effeminate manner, was the most likeable. He was also the nearest thing that she had for an ally on a school council completely dominated by the likes of Aaron Kemp.

Antony made a pretence of talking about the problems that he was having with his essay, contradicted by his obvious thorough knowledge of the plot and the meanings of the strange language that Shakespeare used. Amy divined that he sought company, and that she was the nearest thing to a friend that he had.

They spent an hour talking about Antony's essay and he feigned an appreciation for her help. Amy thought about her own essay, still waiting to be written, and gently suggested that he should think about going home.

To Amy's horror, Antony suddenly broke down in tears. Amy had known that he was a very sensitive boy, but to see a boy cry was an unnerving sight. Boys weren't supposed to cry. Amy put an arm around him and tried to comfort him as best she could.

When the tears subsided, Antony said that he didn't want to go home. Not ever again. His father was a complete bully. Worse than Barry Brooks had been in his heyday even. He'd summoned Antony into his study and said that his mother had been too soft with him, turned him into a little pansy, and that he would make a man out of him if it killed him. He was sending Antony off to a military academy. That would toughen him up, get rid of any inclinations towards effeminacy.

A military academy? That was the last place such a sensitive boy like Antony should be sent. The other boys would make mincemeat of him. It would be a far more damaging environment then a school.

There was more, Antony said. His father was beating him and had been for a few years now. To prove it, Antony dropped his trousers and showed Amy the welts on his backside. Amy was of course horrified.

"You must tell someone" Amy insisted "Someone official, like the police".

Antony shook his head "I can't do that. If I do, my Dad will go to prison and my Mum will never forgive me!"

"Does your Mum know about the beatings?"

Antony shook his head again.

"Then your Mum might think differently once she sees those scars".

But Antony was firm. No police, no officials.

Amy took him by the hand and led him to her own mother and told her the tale. Mother was decisive "Antony can stay here for the night and we can decide what to do in the morning. I'll call his parents and just let them know he's staying over. Don't worry, young man, I won't say why".

Amy was left to sort out the sleeping arrangements. There were only three bedrooms in her house. One for her parents, one for herself and one for Sonia. Sonia would have to sleep with her tonight, but the sisters frequently shared a bed, so that would not be a problem. She turned to Antony.

"You can sleep in Sonia's room and she can come in with me. Her room's a bit girly. Barbie bedsheets and stuff like that, but it's only for one night" Amy looked him up and down "I don't suppose you thought to bring your night stuff with you?"

Antony shook his head.

Amy thought and then said "My Dad's pyjamas will be too big for you.....we're about the same size, so you can wear a pair of my PJ's!" Amy went to her dresser and rummaged through it, producing a set of satin pink PJ's and tossing them to Antony, who deftly caught them.

Without protest, Antony went away and reappeared a few minutes later clad in the shimmering pink satin garments. He looked awfully girlish, and actually, very sweet. And he wore something else, something unexpected.

A smile.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Three

One year later.

Amy Adams, now aged 14, was apprehensive and nervous.

As well she might be, for she had been unexpectedly summoned to the office of the Headmistress, Dr Craig

Amy hadn't done anything wrong (that she knew of anyway). She was a model student and had just been made Captain of the school's netball team, the youngest Captain in the school's long history.

But she was still a bag of nerves as sat down opposite the formidable headmistress.

Dr Craig had been Headmistress for just over a year now and she had turned the school from being a mediocre establishment into one of the best regarded in the county.

It had all started when Dr Craig had taken on the school bully, Barry Brooks, and defeated him by means of petticoat punishment. Amy smiled as she recalled the boy who had been every other pupil's worst nightmare in diapers and wearing the frilled bonnet and frock of a baby girl. Dr Craig probably had a photo of her triumph in her drawer, from which to draw inspiration in times of crisis.

That had been the end of Barry Brooks as a bully. As well as it being difficult for anyone to take him seriously after being seen in baby things, Barry was so traumatised by the experience that he was absent from school for a few weeks. When he returned, he was a transformed character. He did not even as much as raise his voice to another pupil, let alone his fist. His schoolwork was still abominably poor, but at least he was no longer disruptive. With just a few frilly things, Dr Craig had neutralised Barry Brooks as a threat to the authority of the teachers.

The other pupil waited to see if any of Barry's cronies would take his place, but none did so. Dr Craig had made it clear that anyone else caught bullying would get the same treatment as the last bully. For a boy, it was simply too humiliating to end up in diapers and dresses.

The threat of bullying was over. Dr Craig then fired (or had encouraged to retire on ill-health grounds) some of the less effective members of the teaching staff and brought in better ones. They were invariably young and female. With an increase in the quality of the teaching staff and rigourous discipline, the school's academic performance had improved significantly and Dr Craig had won accolades and praise.

Dr Craig looked pleased with herself as Amy's eye caught a small gold cup on Dr Craig's desk. The school governors had had it specially made for her as a tribute to her success.

Headmistress and pupil exchanged some pleasantries and then Dr Craig became more serious.

"Amy, allow me to come to the point of why I summoned you here. In the opinion of most of your teachers, you are a very bright and pleasant pupil. A real star. Having looked at your academic records, I'm inclined to agree with them. So, I want you to stand for the school council".

Amy was momentarily overcome by the praise and by the suggestion. Run for the school council? At fourteen, she was a little young. It was the final year pupils who sat on the school council, anxious to pad out their resumes by a year representing the pupils' interests.

Amy timidly pointed out that she was only fourteen.

Dr Craig dismissed that with a wave of her hand "Who says you have to be a final year student to stand? In theory, any pupil in any year is allowed to stand. You will be a good candidate, I know it".

Amy wasn't so sure and her doubts showed on her face.

"Let me explain why I really need you to do this for me. Whilst I've eliminated the bully problem with ease, there is a much more serious threat. Have you heard of an organisation called the Alpha Movement?"

Amy shook her head.

"The Alpha Movement is an all male outfit whose aims are to restore the patriarchal society that we women have fought so hard to get rid of. They want positive discrimination to favour men over women when it comes to education, jobs and the status of the male within the family unit. In short, Amy, they want to put us back in the kitchen, where they think we belong".

Dr Craig paused for a long moment to let that sink in. Amy's head was spinning.

"They started up a few years ago, founded by one Professor Parker, who has put out articles decrying the decline of men and a nightmare world where women have taken over the world. At first, I wrote him off as a crackpot. But, with the recession and the noticeable advance of women in recent years, more and more discontented men have joined the Aplha Movement. It's the biggest pro-male and anti-female organisation in the country. Parker is even thinking of putting Alpha candidates up for Parliament in the next election".

"And in the meantime, Parker is contaminating our boys. In my school. A couple of the school council members, Luke Parry and Aaron Kemp, have made some anti-woman comments about how it's unfair that girls are doing better in school and university than boys. That's why I need someone like you on the council".

Amy began to understand and appreciate Dr Craig's strategy. She was well aware of the fact that girls were doing better than boys in this single school, let alone the rest of the world, from her own schooldays alone. More girls than boys were in the more advanced classes in every subject, even math and science. They scored better in coursework and exams. It wasn't that boys were hopeless at schoolwork. It was just that they were immature and too easily distracted and prone to messing about, rather than working.

Besides, being on the school council would be interesting and if Dr Craig thought that she could aid the cause of women by being on it then she was game.

A fortnight later, Amy took her place as a member of the school council. She had been surprised how easy it had all been. Most of the candidates had been boys and girls a year older than herself. But she, and one other candidate, had been elected by the votes of the younger pupils.

The other candidate had been Antony Starling. He was also fourteen, but he was still small for his years, his voice had yet to break and he did not yet sprout hair on his face or elsewhere on his body like all other boys of his age. He looked younger than his fourteen years, and effeminate in spite of the boy's uniform he wore.

The first order of business was for the outgoing President, Mandy Myers, to organise the election of her successor. This proved to be merely a formality as there was only one candidate, Aaron Kemp, a tall, handsome boy with dark hair and who seemed to constantly wear a smug expression, as if he was superior to everybody.

Amy noted that he wore a strange badge on his lapel. It was a large "A", coloured blue and surrounded by the universal symbol for maleness. That must be the insignia of this Alpha Movement that Dr Craig was so concerned about.

Several of the other boys present wore the same badge. No wonder Dr Craig was worried. Already, roughly a third of the school council membership were members of the Alpha Movement.

And, Amy gradually realised as the meeting progressed, some of the girls were clearly the girlfriends of some of those boys, and they were willing to be guided by them. Amy was disturbed that these girls, supposedly older and wiser than her, were so passive and accommodating towards a group of boys who were members of an organisation whose professed aims were the subjugation of the female sex.

President for less than an hour he might be, but Aaron was already in control, more so than his predecessor had ever been. Amy had heard that when Mandy Myers had been President, Aaron and his cronies had heckled her and vetoed her ideas. Mandy's Presidency had been undistinguished because no new measures had ever got past Aaron Kemp and his faction.

So far, the council had voted to buy some new nets for the football pitch and to have the faded lines on the tennis courts painted. Amy had to fight the urge to stifle a yawn. Maybe Dr Craig was worrying too much if this sort of business was all the Alphas had control over.

But then, in what was clearly a totally orchestrated move, one of the girls, a silly, simpering creature called Tania Noble, unofficial girlfriend of Aaron himself, put forward a motion to revise the dress code for female pupils, namely by shortening the length of the regulation skirt by three inches.

That would mean the hem of the skirt would be at mid-thigh, rather than falling to just above the knee, the current length.

Amy's blood boiled at the thought of it. This was degrading to her sex. It had to be stopped!

Amy looked around. About half the membership were in Aaron's pocket. Including, Amy noted with disgust, some of the girls. The others seemed indifferent. Antony, sitting beside her, seemed more animated, but he was hardly an appropriate spokesperson, and he was looking toward her, as if expecting her to say something.

Aaron, in the President's chair, was suggesting that, unless anyone had any objections, he would be moving the motion to a vote.

There was a stunned silence when Amy raised her hand and said "I wish to speak against this proposal!"

Aaron and Tania and most of the others looked at her in amusement, as if she was a little girl to be given a dolly and told to go and sit in the corner and play whilst her elders made the serious decisions.

Aaron shrugged and said "OK, representative Adams, you have the floor".

Trembling, Amy rose and began to speak "This proposal is an insult against all women. We are more than just our bodies! We have brains too and, frankly, we use ours a lot better than the boys do...."

"Oh, shut up and sit down, you soppy cow!" hollered Tania. Most of the others present were also heckling Amy.

Amy became incensed and had to restrain herself from launching herself at the other girl, but managed to compose herself and said "I can't believe that you, my sister - and you are my sister - would so betray your own sex by this obscene proposal!" Amy was on the verge of tears.

Aaron Kemp, amused by the scene that had unfolded before him and in which he had not even needed to play any part, bade Amy to sit down and asked if anyone else wished to make any comments.

To everyone's surprise, including Amy, Antony raised his hand. Like Amy before him, he was trembling, and like Amy, he began to put forward the same arguments. Like Amy, he did not get far before Aaron's cronies heckled him.

"Put a sock in it, sissy boy!"

"Go and play with your dolly, little girly!".

"Why don't you just put your skirt on....Toni!"

Antony's resolve crumbled under this onslaught and he timidly sat down.

Amy didn't blame him.

The resolution was carried, of course. The Headmistress had the power to veto the motion once, and Amy had no doubt that she would, but then the council would vote for it again next month, and it would become as valid as the law. Amy's skirt would be shorter by three inches within eight weeks. That was as certain as the sun rising each day.

As she left the meeting, Amy had become aware of two things. One, that, as things currently stood, the school council was dominated by the Alphas, and two, she was not alone. She had an unlikely ally in the person of Antony Starling.

Amy and Antony - Part Two

One Year Later.

Amy Adams, now aged thirteen, walked to school proudly. Her mother had presented her with her first bra, which Amy now wore underneath her school uniform. "My little girl, almost a woman!" had been her mother's words when Amy had slipped the bra on in her mother's room. The words had filled her with pride. To be a woman was the highest ideal in Amy's young life.

The training bra was a plain garment, with no feminine frills or adornments whatsoever, but at that moment it was the finest thing she had ever worn! Almost a woman!

The other girls in her year were also developing from girlhood towards womanhood. Whereas the talk had once been about school and lessons, now it was about bras and periods and, of course, boys.

Amy flushed at the thought of boys and doing....things....with boys. Yet she was intrigued and fascinated with the idea of one day coupling with a boy.

But, the boys of her year, especially that Barry Brooks, were still immature and obnoxious. Barry, now noticeably bigger and more powerfully built, was worse than ever, bullying poor Antony Starling and disregarding the rules.

Antony Starling, a small and gentle boy who seemed not to have grown at all in the past year as one would expect, was the only boy who interested Amy.

Amy caught up with her group of friends and they made their way into class together. Double math on a Monday morning. It was a good thing that math was one of Amy's strongest subjects. Added to that was that Barry Brooks and his mates were too thick to do even simple sums, let alone the complex equations that confronted Amy as she opened up her workbook, and so they were in remedial class whilst Amy was in the most advanced class, mainly populated by girls. Antony and one other boy were the only boys in the class of fifteen. Out of the corner of one eye, Amy watched Antony mentally wrestle with an equation.

Not for the first time, Amy thought, Antony was more like a girl than a boy. This intrigued her.

Amy forced herself back to her work. She was soon absorbed in the world of mathematics and the time passed quickly. Before she could complete the last exercise in the workbook, the teacher announced that class was over. Amy was disappointed. She packed her things away, ready to move on to her next class. History. Amy inwardly groaned as she remembered that Barry and his mates would be in the class. She would be lucky to get any work done.

But the teacher announced that the next class was cancelled. All pupils were to attend a special assembly. Puzzled, Amy made her way to the assembly hall.

The pupils sat, bewildered. Never before had a class been cancelled in favour of an assembly. Assemblies were held mid-week and little of note was ever announced there.

Mr Briggs, the Headteacher, shuffled out onto the stage. Amy noticed for the first time that he looked even older than usual. He seemed to have aged a decade in the space of a year. In his day, he had been a good teacher and headteacher, but due to his age and diminishing faculties he had become more lax and ineffectual. He had been quite unable to handle Barry Brooks.

In the slight stutter that he had had since childhood, Mr Briggs announced that, after almost thirty years in the teaching profession, he was taking early retirement. Today would be his last day. The Deputy Headteacher, Mr Tomms, presented him with a gold watch and the audience politely applauded.

Thanking everyone for his gift, Mr Briggs came to the announcement of who his successor was to be. Amy and everyone else present had assumed that it had to be Mr Tomms. However, Mr Tomms was only five years younger than the outgoing Headteacher and he was already becoming easily tired by his teaching duties.

Raising his voice to a level more like the days when he had been in his prime, Mr Briggs announced that his successor was to be....Dr Amelia Craig. Dr Amelia Craig came out from the shadows. She was at least fifteen years younger than her predecessor. She wore her hair cropped short and wore trousers, a plain blouse and a jacket. Her face looked strong and severe. Not someone you'd ever want to cross, was Amy's initial thought.

Amy spotted Barry, who was sitting two rows ahead of her, and his reaction. He'd not anticipated that Briggs would retire (although he had undoubtedly helped contribute to the decision) nor that Briggs successor would not be anyone other than Mr Tomms, who he could have managed as easily as Mr Briggs. His brow was furrowed with consternation that his new adversary was a woman, and a formidable looking one at that.

Dr Craig gave a short speech praising the work that the outgoing Headteacher had done in his thirty years service in general, and for the school in particular. Then, her tone becoming graver, said that in spite of Mr Briggs' contribution, there was much work to be done to raise the profile of the school to the level of excellence that all schools should aspire to attain and that she meant to do it. In spite of whatever obstacles that stood in her way. These would be overcome.

Amy noted that Dr Craig seemed to look directly at Barry Brooks as she uttered those last words so forcibly. Amy looked at Barry and saw that he looked rattled and uneasy. Good, Amy thought, remembering the times he had mercilessly tormented poor gentle Antony Starling.

For the next few weeks, Barry and his cronies played by the rules. To the surprise of Amy and the teachers, there was not the usual disruptive antics. Barry was trying to gauge what he could get away with under the new regime and get the measure of the new Headteacher.

But, when it came to Antony Starling, the despised sissy, Barry's self control slipped. Antony, for him, was an affront to conventional masculinity. A boy actually volunteering to do Home Economics! A boy who was so meek and docile!

Barry and his mates dragged Antony into the boys' toilets and made him put on a girls' skirt that they had filched from the girls' changing rooms, and confiscated his trousers. They pushed him out of the toilet block in his skirt to be ridiculed by the other students.

Amy saw him, almost clutching the walls for support, and raced towards him, taking his hand in hers and giving it a gentle squeeze. Antony gave her a weak smile in gratitude.

Barry, seeing what was happening, became incensed and advanced towards Amy. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, raising a fist. Amy closed her eyes, waiting for the impact. Barry was a powerfully built boy. He could do some serious damage. would be worth it, to protect poor vulnerable Antony.

But instead of the impact of the blow penetrating her senses, it was the sound of a voice. A strong, powerful female voice.

"Brooks! Don't you dare to even think about striking that girl!"

Amy opened her eyes to see Barry lowering his fist in confusion and Dr Craig in complete command of the situation.

Dr Craig spoke "Brooks, Starling and Adams, you will follow me to my office!"

The three pupils, Barry included, meekly followed the Headteacher to her office. Over the next hour, Dr Craig extracted the truth from Antony about how Antony had ended up dressed as he was. But Barry held out.

Amy had had least to do with the whole episode and was treated as if she was almost incidental. But at least she had the chance to observe that in spite of Dr Craig's diminuitive stature, it was Barry's nerve that was crumbling. But he was still defiant. That is, until, Dr Craig produced a cane and threatened to use it on Barry's bottom unless he confessed.

" aren't allowed to use a cane on me!" said Barry.

Dr Craig smirked at him "Oh, you silly boy. Of course I can! Canes haven't been banned. It's only because Mr Briggs refused to use one that you have been spared until now. If he had only worked out that but for his absurd principle he would still be Headteacher today and greatly
admired by staff and pupils alike...but, it has fallen to me to adminster your just punishment!"

Barry's face went white and he sank to his knees "Please Miss! Anything but the cane!"

Amy was amused to see the all powerful bully's arrogance and aggression evaporate in an instant and for him to become a cringing wretch.

Dr Craig's eyes narrowed "Anything but the cane. Anything?" she demanded.

"Yes Miss!"

Dr Craig lowered her cane, much to the relief of Barry. "Very well, Brooks. I will decide on an alternative punishment for you at my leisure. You are all dismissed!" she said imperiously.

Amy wondered what the "alternative punishment" might be, but she had more important matters on her mind. She turned to Antony, still clad in a girls' skirt.

"Are you OK" she asked him.

Antony nodded.

"Good. Now, let's see about getting you your trousers back!"

Antony smiled in gratitude.

The following day, Amy and Antony (restored to trousers) attended English class. The atmosphere was quiet due to the conspicuous absence of Barry Brooks. His usually rowdy mates sat in a confused silence, unsure what to do

The teacher took the rota, as always. Amy noticed that Barry Brooks' name was not mentioned and she wondered about that. Once the rota was done, the classroom door opened and Dr Craig strode through with an air of confidence and announced.

"Pupils of our great school! Owing to his unacceptable behaviour, I have decided to punish Barry Brooks in a fitting manner, as you will see for yourselves. Brooks! Get yourself in here right now!"

Amy, and everyone else in the classroom, burst into peels of laughter at the sight of the once great Barry Brooks, as he edged slowly into the room.

For he was dressed in a shiny pale pink babies' dress. He was clearly wearing a diaper over which a pair of white frilly knickers had been placed. The skirt of his dress was far too short to cover up his knickers, so they were on display. He wore a pair of cute booties and mittens, a pink, beribboned babies' bonnet and he had a pink dummy in his mouth.

His face was a picture to behold.

Amy - and Antony - marvelled at the transformation at the hands of Dr Craig of an incorrigible bully into a baby girl and shown off as such!

Amy and Antony - Part One

Amy Adams, aged twelve, rolled her bright blue eyes in despair.

The Home Economics class was in chaos. Lumps of sticky dough adhered to work surfaces, appliances, other pupils and even to the teacher, Miss Appleby, who in vain tried to restore order.

Pots and pans were strewn about and ingredients had been trampled into the floor and there was a thick cloud of flour. Amy realised with disgust that she, like everyone else in that room, was covered from head to foot with flour. Her mum would be furious with her.

It was all the boys' fault, of course. With one exception, the boys usually did wood work. However, the boys couldn't do wood work because the school had hired an electrician to replace the ancient wiring that had been there since Amy's grandparents had attended this school. So, for the next month, the boys had to do Home Ec alongside the girls.

The boys, led by the obnoxious Barry Brooks, had pooh-poohed the idea of them doing girls' stuff like baking and cooking. They had reluctantly put on their aprons and sanitary gloves. So far, so good. But then the boys, led by Barry, had started a food fight.

They were standing about, laughing their heads off, as Miss Appleby gave Barry a ticking off. Barry smirked at her, as he did with all teachers who tried to discipline him. Miss Appleby ordered the boys to clear up the mess they had made. Led by Barry, the boys took off their aprons and gloves, threw them on the floor and left.

Miss Appleby, usually a calm and softly spoken woman, shouted after them, threatening dire retribution. All of the girls, and one other person, shrugged and pitched in to help Miss Appleby restore the kitchen to its former pristine condition.

As Amy peeled off the dough in disgust, she glanced at the only boy who had remained. Antony Starling was like no other boy Amy had ever met. He was small for a twelve year old boy and had a delicate build and features. He was also gentle and placid for a boy. Unlike the other boys, he did not do woodwork, or cheek the teachers and girl pupils. He had signed up for Home Ec, the only boy amongst girls, yet not standing out in any way at all.

The other boys despised him, of course. They called him the usual sissie and girly-boy names that all boys applied to a boy who wouldn't conform to what they considered traditional masculinity. Then Barry had come up with a new name for him. Toni. In one class, when the teacher had been called away and Antony was left at the mercy of the merciless Barry, Barry had made him write on the blackboard "I'm a sissy and my name is Toni", over and over again, to the great amusement of the boys.

But, instead of blubbing or falling apart, Antony had stoically and compliantly did as he was told and returned to his desk, his head held high. In spite of his effeminate nature, Antony had some steel in him, Amy noted.

Antony caught her glance and gave her one of his sweet smiles. Amy flushed and looked away. Like all girls at that age, she was still shy amongst boys. Even a boy like Antony.

The mess was all cleared up, earning Antony and the girls the effusive thanks of Miss Appleby. Miss Appleby removed her own apron and went marching off in the direction of the Headteacher's office to report what Barry and his loutish friends had done. It would do no good, Amy knew. Barry was summoned to the Headteacher's office at least once a week. He had been given detention, extra homework lines and litter picking duties. But Barry simply didn't bother to show up for his punishment.

The Headteacher, a kindly old man called Mr Briggs, had even tried talking to Barry's parents about his behaviour. Barry's father, who had been on benefits since before Barry had been born and who spent most of his time either in the bookies or in the pub, had shrugged and slammed the door in Mr Briggs' face. Barry's long suffering mother, who worked all hours in a nursing home as well as looking after her own sick mother, was too tired and worn out to even notice her son's aberrant actions.

So Barry was at liberty to flout the rules and cause chaos and mayhem in every class. And did so.

On the following day, Amy and some of her friends were walking along the edge of the sportsfield. Barry Brooks was leading out the boys in their football gear. PE was about the only subject that Barry took remotely seriously.

The PE Teacher, Mr Cooke, looked the boys over and then a frown creased his rugged features. "Where's Starling?" he asked the other boys. For some reason, the boys were doubled up with laughter.

Fuming, Mr Cooke shouted "Starling! Get out here right now".

Antony timidly sidled out of the boys' changing area. He was wearing a girls' short PE skirt and looking embarressed, as well he might.

Amy's heart went out to him. The poor boy! Barry and his cronies must have made him wear a skirt to publicly humiliate him!

Mr Cooke of course shouted at him, asked him what the hell he was playing at. Antony, of course, wouldn't dare tell the truth. If he thought his life was hard at the moment, thanks to Barry, it would be a million times worse if he split on Barry. Antony disappeared to change into something more appropriate and emerged a few minutes later in shorts.

Mr Cooke glared at him "Right lads, now that comedy hour is over, lets play some football!"

Amy watched as the other boys pushed, shoved and elbowed Antony as he tried to join in the match. Antony was hopeless at sports, that much was obvious, but he didn't deserve to be so badly abused. Amy watched him limp off the field at the end of the match, muddy and covered with bruises. But, remarkably, he walked with his head held high.

Like a Princess, Amy thought. Like a Princess? Why would I give him that label? Amy was greatly puzzled by her own thoughts.