Flannery Bobbin was named after Flannery O’Connor. Her mother was creeped out by many of O’Connor’s dark and twisted stories, but liked the name and felt that giving her daughter the name of one of America’s best known women writers would give her a leg up in the world.
“I hate my name”, Flannery complained.
“Why, Flannery is such a lovely name”, said the women in her mother’s bridge club. “You’re a very lucky girl.”
“No”, Flannery said. “Bobbin. It’s a stupid name. Like spindle or hammer. And it sounds so stupid, like bobbing for apples or a bobber on a fishing line. Or dipping my head into a bucket of flan. I’m a flannel bobber. Yecch”.
She asked her mother if she could change her name to Jennifer or Jessica or any of the popular girls names of her friends, but of course her mother refused. Flannery was a perfectly good name, a proud name, a literary name and soon enough she would understand.
Her mother told her to read O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find which was a story of religion, redemption, and humanity. Flannery did as she was told, but after an hour she banged out of her room and said to her mother, “The woman is nuts, and you named me for her”, and read her this chilling paragraph:
I wasn't there so I can't say He didn't," The Misfit said. "I wisht I had of been there," he said, hitting the ground with his fist. "It ain't right I wasn't there because if I had of been there I would of known. Listen lady," he said in a high voice, "if I had of been there I would of known and I wouldn't be like I am now." His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children !" She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them.
“That’s perverted, Mom. She’s crazy.”
Flannery’s mother told her that children were important in O’Connor’s stories, and that she had a real sense for young people’s feelings. She asked her daughter to read The River and see if she didn’t agree.
Flannery again came bursting out of her room, and said, “Mom, she was a religious freak. I can’t believe you named me after her. She read from the short story to prove her point:
While he was talking a fluttering figure had begun to move forward with a kind of butterfly movement—an old woman with flapping arms whose head wobbled as if it might fall off any second. She managed to lower herself at the edge of the bank and let her arms churn in the water. Then she bent
farther and pushed her face down in it and raised herself up finally, streaming wet; and still flapping, she turned a time or two in a blind circle until someone reached out and pulled her back into the group.
“The boy’s parents forced him to watch some creepy old lady who didn’t know what’s what dunked in the river because of Jesus. How perverse is that, baptizing some lady with Alzheimer’s?”
Flannery Bobbin was indeed a willful child, but not stupid. She knew fool well what O’Connor was writing about and wished that she could write like her; but not what she wrote about – sick, demented losers in some Southern swamp. She stuck to Ivanhoe, The Three Musketeers, and The Last of the Mohicans.
“Flannery O’Connor is a woman writer”, her mother said. “You may not like what she wrote, but not many women were that successful in literature”.
Here Flannery could easily agree with her mother. All the great writers were men – Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Sophocles and a hundred more – but what did it matter anyway? Who said that sex mattered in anything except in the act itself? Had her mother ever read Crime and Punishment or Hamlet?
As you can see, Flannery’s naming was not neutral; and despite her fussing, it gave her insights that most young girls might never have. How did Shakespeare understand women so well, she wondered? Kate, the Shrew, was as willful, rebellious, and obstinate as she was; but she willingly became Petruchio’s sex slave. How did Shakespeare, a man, understand that women want to be dominated in matters of sex and psyche but not in intelligence and wit? Rosalind, Beatrice, and Viola were her heroes because they bested men at every turn. Sexuality was more complex than her mother let on, Flannery came to know, and she was bound and determined to be a woman of both worlds.
As an adult Flannery had no use whatsoever for Feminism. The constant hammering by frustrated women to prove a point was idle, inane, and irrelevant. Women, Flannery knew, needed no help whatsoever. Shakespeare had demonstrated that five-hundred years ago. Margaret, the wife of the weak, pansy, and devout king Henry VI took to the battlefield to fight the French. Lady Macbeth had balls and will and was rightfully scornful of her vacillating and doubting husband. Goneril and Regan were the heroes of King Lear, dismissive of their traditional roles as female chattel. They bullied their father, intimidated their husbands, and did what it took to gain a kingdom.
Volumnia knew that mothers have untold power over their sons and and used her maternal influence to support Coriolanus until he turned out to be not the offspring she had hoped and engineered his demise.
So Flannery went into the business world armed with more arrows in her quiver than most women. She had been inadvertently been cast as a strong woman by her naming; and thanks to her intelligence had quickly figured out her way in the sexual arena. Strindberg understood women even better than Shakespeare, she thought, and she identified with Laura, the wife of the Captain in The Father who disassembles and destroys her husband far more wickedly and purposefully than Iago does Othello. And Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler was the best.
Flannery identified with Miss Julie even more because Julie, like Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, wanted to fulfill both sides of her feminine nature – to be dominated by men and at the same time to dominate in their world. It was this sexual complexity which resonated most with Flannery.
Men, Flannery quickly learned, are no match for women. They are so ruled by their dicks that their brains addle. Poor Bassanio is no match for Portia who fools him, tricks him, deceives him, and still has him licking at her feet. She dismisses one wealthy exotic suitor after another to fulfill her father’s restrictive covenant; but as in love with Bassanio as she says she is, she treats him like the dumb lapdog he is.
Flannery was more apt and able than any of her male colleagues in business school. Privately they wondered how a woman could have such brains, savvy, and ruthlessness; and after graduation they gave her wide berth as she made her way to the top of the corporate world.
Flannery paid little attention to the issues of equal-pay-for-equal-work, the glass ceiling, or gender equity. Because she felt she was no different from those women who throughout history had obtained power, influence, and untold riches because of their brains, savvy, understanding, and social acumen – despite so-called ‘male superiority’ – she had no patience for the impassioned screeds of the Left. These women were simple, uni-dimensional, and ignorant of the fundamental nature of men and women. They had been hoodwinked into thinking that nature has been neutered and that only nurture survives. If Flannery could not make it to the top of General Motors or Google, tant pis. She didn’t need title, position, or even income to validate her brains and mettle.
As one might expect, Flannery Bobbin did rise to the top of the corporate ladder. She was brutal, incisive, Biblically honest, but took no prisoners. Never once did she compare herself with men or even reflect on their particular successes. Subjugating, dominating, even humiliating the competition was what the job required. No XX or YY chromosomes involved. Any female activists who felt they had to intercede, offer succor and support to women were missing the boat. They were the inferior, clueless, and hopeless women of her sexual tribe who would always carp, harangue, and hysterically rail at men when she would make money, collect awards, and influence America.
Flannery Bobbin was also a sexual vortex, an insatiable lover who loved men. Many of her more traditional women friends could not understand how she, in such a position of superior strength and position, and so dominant over men could possibly play a traditional sexual role.
“Ah”, she said to Molly Flanders who was like Flannery a successful businesswoman but who for some reason could not pull out all the stops. Molly’s caring, feminine nature had held her back, but she was not completely sorry. “You want to know why I like Brent on top”.
Flannery couldn’t help but being sarcastic and dismissive of such girlish dilemmas. Perhaps she liked being tied to the bedposts and being fucked like an animal to balance her drive and Genghis Khan ferocity in the workplace. Perhaps it was acceding to primeval female urges to being dragged off by the hair into the cave and being ravished. Or perhaps it was her own devious sexuality which had no precedent. The ties and the bedposts might be familiar, but what she was feeling as she was ‘taken’ is entirely another.
Only inferior minds needed parallel lines, symmetry, and predictability, Flannery concluded.
FLANNERY S. BOBBIN was the simple bronze plate on the door of her Presidential Suite at DynaGen International in honor of Harry S. Truman, her favorite President who had no middle name but who had enough unique and memorable relatives whose names began with ‘S’ to proudly add it to his title.
She knew that many if not most of her male subordinates called her a bitch and a cunt whenever she brought them into line; but never gave it a second thought. The whole ‘gender thing’ was an invention of unentitled women who fought the taste of sour grapes their whole lives. She knew who was boss, and never had a doubt that she would become one. As she sat in her corner office overlooking Lower Manhattan and savoring a free minute, she thanked her parents for having named her Flannery.