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.