The Montréal Massacre

December 6, 2018 § Leave a comment

Twenty-nine years ago today, a violent misogynist marched into the École Polytechnique in Montréal, separated the men from the women and gunned down fourteen women.  Another fourteen were wounded.  He then killed himself.  In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life.  He claimed that feminists attempted to play the advantages of being women whilst also seeking to claim advantages that belong to men.  He had a list of nineteen prominent women in Québec whom he considered to be feminists and whom he wished dead.

The Montréal Massacre shocked a nation.  I was sixteen and living at the other end of the country, in the suburbs of Vancouver.  This felt a little more real for me because I am from Montréal.  My mother, also a montréalaise, was ashen-faced and shocked watching the news, crying.  At school the next day at school, a Thursday, the shock was real and palpable.  Nearly all of us felt it.  Nearly all of us were sickened.  Some were crying in the hallways.  Some looked like zombies.  We talked about this incessantly.  We didn’t understand.  We didn’t understand such violent misogyny.

I remain shocked by this event even today.  What I didn’t know or understand about violent misogyny as a teenager I now do.  I am a professor myself and teach my students about misogyny.  And violent misogyny.  I often talk about the Montréal Massacre, even to American students.  In 1989 I was shocked by the irrational hatred of men towards women.  In 2018, I am still shocked, but more jaded, I know it’s there and and am not all that surprised when it plays out.

In 2017, my wife and I went to the Women’s March in Nashville, TN.  A lot of the older women protesting, the women of my mother’s generation, were carrying signs saying ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Still Protesting This Shit.’  They were right.  This is the same shit.

Every 6 December in Canada, we wring our hands and ask how and why did this happen?  But we haven’t done much to make it so that this cannot happen again.  In the United Staes, we have done even less to make women safe.  This is just immoral and wrong.

The worst part is that nearly all of us know the killer’s name.  I refuse to utter it, I refuse to use it.  To do so gives him infamy, it gives him something he does not deserve.  Instead, I am always saddened that we cannot recite the names of the dead.  Here is a list of the women he killed that day in 1989:

  • Genviève Bergeron, 21
  • Hélène Colgan, 23
  • Nathalie Croteau, 23
  • Barbara Daigneault, 22
  • Anne-Marie Edward, 21
  • Maud Haviernick, 29
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewic, 31
  • Maryse Laganière, 25
  • Maryse Leclair, 23
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
  • Sonia Pelletier, 28
  • Michèle Richard, 21
  • Annie Saint-Arneault, 23
  • Annie Turcotte, 21

It saddens me to think that these fourteen women died because one immature little man decided they’d ruined his life by trying to gain an education.  The futures they didn’t get to have because of one violent misogynist with a gun depresses me.  And every 6 December, I stop and think about this.  I pay tribute to these women.  And I think about how I can make a difference in my own world to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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Remembering the Montreal Massacre

December 6, 2016 § 2 Comments

Today is the 27th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, also known as the Montreal Massacre.  On this morning, 6 December, in 1989, an armed gunman walked into the École Polytechnique, separated the men from the women, and shot 28 people, executing 14 female students.  Why? Because they were women and he felt that feminists had ruined his life.  As per usual, I refuse to name him.  He should be forgotten, he does not deserve infamy (he killed himself at the scene).  His suicide letter contained the names of 19 other Quebec feminists he wished to kill.

For Canadians of my generation, the Massacre was and remains deeply shocking.  It resonates. I remember where I was when I heard the news, I remember the shock I felt, and then the anger.  I grew up in a violent household, my mother the target of my step-father during drunken outbursts.  His violence appalled me.  All violence against women appalls me.  Deeply.

And here we are, 27 years on, and violence against women is still prevalent.  For this reason, name and remember the victims of the Massacre in Montreal 27 years ago, to honour them. May they continue to rest in peace:

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student, age 21.
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student, age 23.
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student, age 23.
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student, age 22.
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student, age 21.
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student, age 29.
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department, age 25.
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student, age 23.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student, age 22.
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student, age 28.
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student, age 21.
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student, age 23.
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student age 20.
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student, age 31.

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.

 

Why We Need Feminism

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week was the 23rd anniversary of the Montréal Massacre.  On 6 December 1989, a deranged man wandered into the École Polytechnique de Montréal, the engineering school of the Université de Montréal.  After clearing the men from a classroom, he opened fire.  He killed six women and injured three more before leaving the classroom and wandering the halls, where he wounded three more before he made a failed attempt to enter a locked classroom, wounding another woman in the hallway, before killing a support worker in her office.  Upon reaching the cafeteria, he continued shooting.  By the time he turned the gun on himself twenty minutes later, he had killed fourteen women, as well as wounding another thirteen, as well as one man.

I was 16 at the time, still in high school, at the other end of the country, in Vancouver.  I remember coming home from school and being glued to the TV that night, shocked, amazed, dismayed, and depressed this could happen.  Not that it could happen in Canada.  Of course it could.  But that it could happen.  Period.  This deranged man shot and killed these women because he hated feminists.  To this day, 23 years and 5 days later, I refuse to utter his name.

But I know his name. It’s seared into my memory.  This is true for pretty much all Canadians old enough to be cognisant of the massacre in 1989.  But we don’t necessarily know the dead women’s names.  There are:

  • Geneviève Bergeron, 21, civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan, 23, mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau, 23, mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault, 22, mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward, 21, chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick, 29, materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière, 25, budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
  • Maryse Leclair, 23, materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, 22, mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier, 28, mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard, 21, materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault, 23, mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte, 20, materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31, nursing student

Each year, as we get further and further away from 6 December, we forget the importance of the event just a little bit more.  And each year we get further and further away from 6 December, we lose the shock and dismay we felt that day.

That same week, there was a meme on Twitter, We Need Feminism because.  One of the images that came through my timeline struck me.

542999_200584493411003_2052673512_nHer words say it all.  And so I thought back to my frosh week in 1991 at Carleton University in Ottawa.  We were taught that “No Means No.” Full stop. Period. No does not mean “maybe later,” or “not now,” or “maybe.”  It means “NO.”  Very simple.  That phrase was beaten into our heads, not even two full years since the Massacre.

But reading the words in this image, I realised I haven’t heard the phrase “No Means No” in a long time.  At least a decade.  And I spend a lot of time on university campuses.  In fact, I have been on a college or university campus every academic year since my first year undergrad in 1991-2 every year except two in the late 90s.

And now, apparently young women are taught to avoid being raped.  Men are not taught not to rape.  One would think that teaching “No Means No” would have benefited the women at Amherst College who were raped. One would think that all young women on all university campuses would benefit.  As would all young men.  “No means no” taught us to respect words.  And we all, men and women, need that respect.

Certainly, I would much prefer to live in a world where sexual assault and rape did not occur.  But I don’t see that happening, unfortunately.  But I would also much prefer it if universities did their part and taught young men and women that No means no.  That simple.  Three little words.

And for that reason, we need feminism.

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