Thursday, December 6, 2007

A day of remembrance

18 years ago in Montréal, 14 young women were murdered because they were women.

In a letter he wrote shortly before he went on his deadly rampage at the École Polytechnique, the shooter, 25 year-old Marc Lépine, blamed feminists and women who "usurp" the place and advantages of men in society for his troubles, and for the crimes he was about to commit.

Before he started shooting, he cried "I hate feminists."

Feminism has little to do with Lépine's actions. It's probable that many of the women - and men - he shot did not identify as such. He killed them because they were women.


These events are infinitely sad and shocking and disgusting in and of themselves.

But it's all the more disheartening to think that, almost 20 years after this tragedy, most people just don't seem to give a damn about what happened then, or about gender violence in general.

This anniversary has received little to no news coverage so far today - from what I know.

Meanwhile, gender-based violence is still an endemic social problem in Canada and little is being done to eradicate it.

Many people - local politicians, "men's rights activists" and even women's magazines editors - still trivialize justify violence against women.

People like them still maintain that men who murder their female partners do it because of a lack of control, out of passion/jealousy/anger/love, in the spur of the moment, or because they were provoked.

They will blame rape/attempted murder survivors for what happened to them, and call them "cows" and "little bitches."

They will label blatant instances of extreme violence against women as "feminist myths."

They will blame female victims of crime for their "lifestyle choices," and play down any act of violence against women, from a street fight to gruesome serial killings, as a normal and justifiable "occupational hazard", if the victim belongs to an untouchable group.

They will you straight-faced that Marc Lépine was misunderstood, that he didn't really hate all women, that he just wanted to slay those evil feminists.


It's completely unacceptable that this sort of attitude and behaviour is still tolerated in 21st century Canada. It has to stop. This is why feminism exists. This is why women's fight to be treated as equals both under the law and in our day-to-day dealings with one another, must continue until the day women will really be respected and valued - and not despised, feared or hated - by men.


For more information about the events at the École Polytechnique:
  • Contemporary clips of the media coverage of the events, in French and English;
  • A Wikipedia article on the shooting.

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