Thoughts on the Montréal Massacre

December 6, 2014 § 12 Comments

Twenty-five years ago today, on 6 December 1989, a deranged young man wandered into the École Polytechnique in Montréal and opened fire.  He was angry at women, he was angry at feminists whom he blamed for ruining his life. So he targeted women studying at an engineering school.  He killed fourteen of them:

  • Geneviève Bergeron
  • Hélène Colgan
  • Nathalie Croteau
  • Barbara Daigneault
  • Anne-Marie Edward
  • Maud Haviernick
  • Maryse Laganière
  • Maryse Leclair
  • Anne-Marie Lemay
  • Sonia Pelletier
  • Michèle Richard
  • Annie St-Arneault
  • Annie Turcotte
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Today, I’ve seen patently stupid media articles in Canada praising us for being so much better today than we were then.  Bullshit.  We’re not.  I’m not even going to list all the misogyny and other bullshit I see around me on a daily basis.  I’ve noted much of it on this blog.

I’m sick of. I’m sick of misogyny. I’m sick of men’s violence towards women.  It’s time to man up, it’s time to end this.

 

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F-Bombs for Feminism

November 7, 2014 § 4 Comments

FCKH8.com, a website dedicated to eradicating hatred, posted this video a few weeks back.  Not surprisingly, it caused a bit of a sensation

After all, we can’t have little kids swearing, can we?  Never mind the fact that they’re noting the ridiculous gender imbalance in our world.  Of course, that’s not shocking.  Denise Balkissoon published this devastating opinion piece in the Toronto Globe and Mail today; she argues that the Jian Ghomeshi situation is not some magical watershed for violence against women, reciting a long litany of shocking moments that should’ve marshalled our collective anger to stop it.  And this is just the Canadian context of violence against women.

But it’s not just violence.  A couple of weeks ago in class, two of my female students commented on their own experiences.  Both are incredibly intelligent young women, and both come from a place of privilege.  They are white, and they come from relatively affluent backgrounds.  Both grew up treated equally and fairly vis-à-vis the boys, but when it came time to graduate from high school and go to university, they discovered the world was not so fair.  Both report they received diminished opportunities in comparison to the men they knew, in terms of their choices for university, the internships they received, the jobs they got.  Why?  Because they’re girls.

The Facebook post I first saw this FCK8 video on had a bunch of comments tut-tutting about the foul language of these little girls, not on the fact that what they were saying was true.  And that is the entire point.  If it takes a famous Canadian radio host beating his dates, a South African athlete killing his girlfriend, or little girls swearing to draw our attention to this general societal problem, we’ve failed.

Anita Sarkeesian and Why I Got So Much Trouble on my Mind

October 16, 2014 § 7 Comments

I got so much trouble on my mind, like Chuck D. back in 1990.  Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist gamer, and critic of gamer culture.  I’m not a gamer, but I have female friends who are, and I have friends who design video games, including women.  They all report a culture of wider misogyny.  But I’m not here to lambaste gamers, I’m here to point out misogyny is a deep-seated cultural issue.  It permeates every corner of our culture, it’s regarded as acceptable by far too many, both men and women.  Too many of us stand around and watch it happen, and we do not call it out for what it is.  We do not stand up.

Men have a particular moral imperative to stand up in the face of misogyny.  Why?  Because misogynists are also men.  Men threaten women.  Men rape women.  Men kill women.  And spare me the “men’s movement.”  It’s nothing but a sad-sack attempt by a rearguard of men, upset that their access to patriarchal privilege is under threat.  Of course, that threat is only in their tiny little minds.

Sarkeesian was scheduled to give a talk on misogyny and gamer culture at the Utah State University.  Then some pathetic little man emailed an anonymous threat promising a “Montreal-style massacre” if USU allowed her talk to go ahead.  I’m not going to quote this pathetic little man’s threat here.  But I will remind readers that on 6 December 1989, one misogynist opened fire at the École Polytechnique de Montréal and shot 27 people, killing 14.  All of the dead were women.  All of them.  Why did he do this?  Because he claimed that feminists had ‘ruined’ his life.  So, too, did the anonymous man who threatened Sarkeesian at USU.

Sarkeesian wasn’t even told about the threat against her life by USU.  She read about it after landing in Utah.  Moreover, USU and the Utah police were unable to provide protection for her, as Utah is an open-carry state, meaning it is entirely legal to carry concealed weapons onto a university campus.  To prevent weapons on campus, or to have people check their guns at the door would have violated their Second Amendment rights.  I’m not sure that’s even true, but that’s an argument for another day.  So Sarkeesian cancelled.

I can’t say I blame her.  Who wants to be a martyr?  Especially for something as basic and simple as civil and human rights and the right of women to be treated equally by society.  But, this also lets the crazies win.  This lets the misogynists win.

I have had death threats in the past, in response to articles I published on a now-defunct London-based magazine website.  The threats against me were not credible, so I ignored them.  I have had a variety of threats against my person and my employment on Twitter.  But, again, they weren’t credible, so I ignored them.  But this is what the bullies do.  If they don’t like what you’re saying, they threaten you.  If you’re a woman, they threaten to rape you.  They threaten to kill you.  The threats Sarkeesian felt was very real.  Hell, she’s already been the target of some asshole’s idea of a joke with a video game that allows players the chance to punch her in the face over and over again.

We cannot let the crazies win.  And Sarkeesian continues to speak out about the threat to her life.  I applaud her.  If the crazies win, we lose civilisation.  Someone’s Second Amendment rights do NOT trump my First Amendment rights.  And, arguably, USU, as a state institution, violated Sarkeesian’s First Amendment rights.  There is a lot of talk about “rights” in the US, the rights guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights.  But nowhere does it say that anyone’s rights trump those of someone else’s.  Not in the Bill of Rights, not in the voluminous jurisprudence that has developed surrounding the Constitution.

And yet, I haven’t seen a politician come out in support of Sarkeesian.  Nor have I read a thing about an attempt to find the man who made this anonymous threat in the first place.  He sent an email.  It’s not that hard to trace it.

Welcome to the Terrordome indeed.

Why We Need Feminism. Still.

June 23, 2014 § 5 Comments

I am blessed with three insanely wonderful, talented, beautiful nieces, they are really amazing, and I don’t get to spend enough time with them.  The oldest of the three, Haley, is in a rock band in Norway, Slutface.  The band just released a new single, “Angst,” which, aside from being catchy as all get out, struck me for its lyrical content.  Haley sings about female objectification, dumb boys, and misogyny.  It kind of took me by surprise, because you don’t really hear lyrical content of this sort in pop music today.  Listening to the song, I thought back to a recent exchange I had on Twitter.  I posted something hashtagged #yesallwomen, and a troll responded that it was campaigns and hashtags like this that led to women being sexually assaulted and raped. Yes, seriously. In his delusional little world, rape and sexual assault didn’t happen until social media appeared on the scene.  He was, as you would imagine, hyper-aggressive about making his point, too.

When this current trend of feminist hashtags and campaigns on Twitter and social media exploded last year, I was kind of surprised.  I came across the account @everydaysexism and was gobsmacked. Women were documenting their experiences of being catcalled and harassed walking down the street.  I was shocked.  I though this kind of shit ended thirty years ago.  I asked the women in my life, and they confirmed that this was indeed their daily experience.  It angered me.

Back in the day, every woman I knew had been raped or sexually assaulted, so perhaps I should not have been surprised.  “The day” was the early 1990s.  But I seriously thought things had got better since then.  I’m not sure why I thought this.  I am a professor, everyday in the hallways, across campus, and even in my classroom, I see examples of sexism and outright misogyny.  Almost all advertising is based on the objectification of women to sell everything from cars to beer to razor blades to men.  In the post-Britney Spears, “post-feminist” world, this kind of objectification has become part of the day-to-day.  And for many of my female students, the very word “feminism” is a bad one.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a student say, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then go on to make a very basic feminist point.

That depresses me.  As does this picture. 542999_200584493411003_2052673512_n  We ALL need feminism, for the reasons outlined above, and for the reasons this woman points out in the picture.

Sexism and misogyny isn’t funny.  Women don’t need to learn how to “take a joke” when men say stupid shit to them.  Men need to stop being pigs.  It’s that simple.

Misogyny in Action

September 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

This article from a TV station in Texas is unconscionable.  A truck decal business in Waco, TX, created a decal for the tailgate of a pickup truck of a women tied up and looking like she’s been abducted.  I will not re-produce the image here, it doesn’t deserve it, but you can see it if you follow this link.  The decal is bad enough.  But the article on the TV station’s website is even worse.  After noting that the majority of the feedback for the decal has been negative, moron journalist Matt Howerton  says that the feedback leads to the question as to whether or not the decal is “‘Poor taste or good business?'”

I’m gobsmacked at how this question is even asked.  An image of a distressed women tied up and looking like she’s in the back of a pickup truck is never good business.  It’s beyond poor taste.

A few days ago that I know we live in a misogynist society, but sometimes it just hits me in the face how misogynist.  This is one of those moments.  By now, everyone in Canada has heard about the students during frosh week at St. Mary’s University and the University of British Columbia (my alma mater, I’m ashamed to admit) chanting about underage rape.  Seriously.  It’s not funny, it’s never funny.

Pretty much every single woman I know has been the victim of sexual assault at least once in her life.  And yet we as a society accept that, we even encourage it with idiocy like KWTX’s question about the truck decal.  This is a nothing less than a disgrace.

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