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aggrieved entitlement antifeminism guns misogyny

Open thread to honor the victims of the École Polytechnique massacre

A plaque honoring the victims of the massacre
A plaque honoring the victims of the massacre

Twenty-seven years ago, as many of you know, a young man carrying a rifle walked into a classroom at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. After declaring to stunned students that he was “fighting feminism,” he shot 14 women dead, most of them students, and wounded another ten women and four men before killing himself.

Every year on this date Canadians take time to reflect on the events of that day and honor those killed in the massacre. Here’s an open thread for you all to do the same, as well as to discuss how we might best prevent future tragedies caused by reactionary ideologues with guns.

No trolls, MRAs, alt-rightsts, etc.

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Flora
Flora
3 years ago

As a professional Canadian woman (a professional who is also a woman – nobody pays me for being female as far as I’m aware) this always hit close for me. Just a few days ago a physician was murdered in Ontario a few days after filing for a divorce. I remember these women – and those who are not white and educated and wealthy enough to make the news and spark national outcry.

Tabby Lavalamp
Tabby Lavalamp
3 years ago

Each year seems even more depressing as it seems like anti-feminism, it it’s not growing, is getting louder.

Latte Cat
Latte Cat
3 years ago

Anti feminism is a cancer. That’s my opinion, despite the large amount of people who might disagree. The majority of people who choose to oppose feminism (after learning what it actually is) generally have misogynistic attitudes. Not all, but most. RIP to all the victims. It makes me so angry, and so genuinely sad that people can take their ideas and beliefs to such extremes. I’m all for freedom of thought and expression, but when it affects other people, that’s when there’s a problem. There’s too many Elliot Rodgers and Marc Lepines milling about, who otherwise appear normal. Not to mention the huge issues with gun control.

mechazawa
mechazawa
3 years ago

@latte cat
i agree with most of your post, it’s a good sentiment and well put. but I’m confused on one point, how can someone reject feminism and not be a misogynist?

Weird (bite me, Bitefart!!) Eddie
Weird (bite me, Bitefart!!) Eddie
3 years ago

Education, education, education!!!! Not necessarily just about feminism though that’s essential as well. I believe ignorance breeds hatred and I believe that hatred withers in the light of knowledge. It’s not guaranteed, but if we do not educate we will not learn.

nobody pays me for being female as far as I’m aware

(/s) sure they pay you for being female… they just pay you less

Nym
Nym
3 years ago

Maybe they really like women but they have some backwards attitudes about our role in society? I mean in answer to mechzawas question

Ludomancer
Ludomancer
3 years ago

I was in my second year of university a few provinces over (Alberta) when this happened. I remember the shock, then the struggle to decide how to honour the fallen.

Eventually, it was decided that only women would take part in the ceremony, though all were welcome to watch it. Some men objected, but that’s how it went forward. We assembled in the atrium of the main building. While a (female) music professor played a sad refrain on the piano, the names of the fourteen victims were read out. Then fourteen young women, each carrying a candle and a rose, walked out onto a snow-covered verandah adjoining the space. The candles were snuffed, and the roses left in the snow.

In later annual ceremonies, some biographical details of the victims were shared along with their names, but the ceremony stayed largely the same.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
3 years ago

That sounds like a lovely ceremony, Ludomancer. Thank you for sharing.

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
3 years ago

Thanks for this, David.

Flora
Flora
3 years ago

@Weird Eddie – fortunately all residents within a province are salaried at the same rate by year, so that doesn’t apply to me… yet. Even though Public Health is a SJW-fest speciality started by women, today it’s a male-dominated field because it’s seen as a leadership role. My time will come.

@Ludomancer, this year one of our university’s speakers is a man who is talking about the importance of men speaking out against gendered violence. I agree with the premise but I feel like this isn’t the appropriate time/space for men to have the platform. Sometimes being a good ally means being willing to just listen.

Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
3 years ago

Sometimes being a good ally means being willing to just listen.

Absolutely. I can empathize, but I cannot speak about your pain

Owl
Owl
3 years ago

Thank you for this. So many of my fellow USA-dwellers seem never to have heard of the massacre. I play these songs every year in a personal commemmoration.

From Judy Small, an Australian singer/songwriter (and I recommend all of her songs, many of which are about women’s issues and queer issues)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpoahz5VZuw&w=560&h=315%5D

and Stephen Fearing, a Canadian:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjGJSPxA-_Q&w=560&h=315%5D

Ludomancer
Ludomancer
3 years ago

@ Flora – I didn’t mention my gender earlier, but I’m a man, and I agree with you. Male allies should be able to speak, of course, but I would prefer it be at some related event, not at the memorial itself.

This is specifically about a man who targeted women because they were women who dared to step outside of our society’s traditional gender roles. There were men in the building, but the perpetrator (I will not name him) had them stand aside while he gunned down their female classmates. The ceremony should be by and about women.

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
3 years ago

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N12dOqXPwb4/Tt0Dc4lH2oI/AAAAAAAAU4E/4Hk8TN9h6eU/s1600/CA+Ecole+polytectnique+massacre+victims.jpg

Spend some time imagining the sorts of people they might be today, and thinking of what the world has lost.

Only fourteen out of so many lost.

Viscaria
Viscaria
3 years ago

Ty for the thread David.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

I hope we’re lucky enough to see this sort of violence stop within our lifetimes. At least the youngests’ lifetime.

Moocow
3 years ago

An act of terrorism, pure and simple.

Since the shooter was trying to “end feminism” with this horrible hate crime, I think it’s important to point at this horrible incident and say ‘this is why we need feminism’.

@Flora

@Ludomancer, this year one of our university’s speakers is a man who is talking about the importance of men speaking out against gendered violence. I agree with the premise but I feel like this isn’t the appropriate time/space for men to have the platform. Sometimes being a good ally means being willing to just listen.

Agreed. In fact, the topic of “men speaking out against gendered violence” sounds very male-centric (I may be wrong, but IMO this “we need to speak out about this” sounds like fluff without discussing the underlying issues”). Perhaps a woman, especially someone who has experience sexism in STEM (so, in other words, a woman in STEM fields) should decide the topic and be the speaker.

Ludomancer
Ludomancer
3 years ago

@Moocow – Men are, of course, the instigators of the vast majority of gender violence, and so men must speak out against it, just not in a way that drowns out the voices of women. As I said upthread, I am personally against men participating in École Polytechnique memorials, just as (for instance) only women should march in Take Back the Night events.

You’re right that simply saying that one is against violence is insufficient. Men have to work do eliminate their own privilege, as well as the other underlying causes.

Men do need to shut up and listen – but they also need to speak. Now I think I’m going to spend the rest of the thread shutting up and listening.

dust bunny
dust bunny
3 years ago

It’s also independence day in Finland.

There were multiple nazi demonstrations, as well as anti-nazi ones. Police were brought into the capital from the provinces to help keep order. Fortunately things went better than expected, almost everything was peaceful. I only heard of one minor violent incident, a fight between a few nazis, that was interrupted by the police before it could escalate.

People pledged small sums of money to charities for every nazi that would be reported taking part in the marches. The sum reached 1195,91 euros per nazi. It will go to causes in support of democracy and equality. So that’s nice at least.

Still, it sucks that we can’t have nice things because of the nazis. I’m not a patriotic person, I’ve always found national pride dreadfully embarrassing. It shouldn’t have to be that way. There’s nothing inherently wrong with loving one’s country, and it probably even has some benefits. I am grateful for the security and standard of living we have, and maybe even a bit proud of them. As I see it, the correct way to honour those achievements would be to share them as widely as possible, and to build even greater things onto them.

But, like I said, we can’t have nice things because of nazis.

PreuxFox
PreuxFox
3 years ago

@dust bunny

I do love the idea of the pledges (per Nazi). What a wonderful way to demonstrate that people do not agree with them, while also bringing funds to causes that are in need of resources. If you don’t mind me asking, how was a collection like that organized?

dust bunny
dust bunny
3 years ago

@ preuxfox

Social media and word of mouth, mostly. Here’s their site: http://pernatsi.fi/en

RosieLa
RosieLa
3 years ago

Also worth noting that this is the event that really kicked gun control into high gear in this country; including the long gun registry that the Canadian Conservative government (acronym: CCRAP – they used it for two whole days before scraping it) opposed and destroyed.

I’m so upset about the fact that I need to work today instead of going to the memorial.
And I’m so upset that my (Canadian) school has lately been covered in MRA propaganda. Today, of all days, I did not need to find that out.

@Flora, thank you for mentioning the missing and murdered indigenous women.

Conan the Librarian
3 years ago

I was a 15 year old Montrealer when the massacre at the Polytechnique happened. It was horrifying. It was one of the catalysts for my becoming a feminist, since anti-feminism perpetuated such horrors. My father, a physics teacher who knew some of those murdered (he taught at a college where some of these young women had gone before enrolling at the Polytechnique. He dedicated future editions of his textbook to the young women murdered that day. May we never forget them, but learn the lesson that vile, hateful ideologies are deadly when they incubate in the embittered.

Rhuu
Rhuu
3 years ago

I was reading the wiki article about the massacre, and I noticed something. None of the women were named in the sequence of events, but the shooter continuously was.

I think I would prefer for the women’s names to feature more prominently than the man who murdered them. But is it like… ghoulish to specify where each woman died?

I mean, there was more to them and their lives than this. It just seems like everyone knows his name, and no one (at least not me) knows their names.

Conan the Librarian
3 years ago

@Rhuu

This is why many people on social media make a point of posting the names of the women every Dec. 6. Many of my Facebook friends have done this.

Steampunked
Steampunked
3 years ago

@Conan the Librarian – What a lovely gesture by your father.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
3 years ago

I was at the University of Waterloo when it happened myself. It was a significant subject of discussion for quite a while; the idea that something like this could actually happen here shocked some of us out of our complacency. Waterloo has long had a women in engineering problem of its own (it was and perhaps still is the most male-dominated University in Canada, because Engineering is close to a quarter of the school, and Engineering enrolment is still three-quarters male) but that was in the process of changing while I was there, and various outreach programs and work on the internal culture have slowly improved things.

@Rhuu:
There’s a reason why some people absolutely refuse to use the name of John Lennon’s murderer. He’d wanted to become famous by killing someone famous; let’s not give him his fame.

Podkayne
Podkayne
3 years ago

I stopped by the place du 6 Decembre 1989 with my husband today, actually. I keep meaning to go pay my respects on the anniversary, but something always comes up, so this year I made sure to take the day off work.

To me (and probably by design) it always called up walking down the center aisle of a church. It’s a short walk, but it’s hard to describe how moving it is. You know you’re in the middle of town, people are honking for parking spots meters away from you, and you look towards where the altar might be in an actual church and you see…asphalt and concrete, because that’s what Montreal is about. You are not actually hidden away, you are in the middle of some busy streets next to some busy buildings, and life is going on, because it’s Tuesday, but somehow the few trees on each side really do make you feel separated from the world. And it feels…guarded? As if this particular rectangle is the eye of a storm. As if it has been set aside.

There was one white rose left on the ‘pew’ for Annie St-Arneault, and her name on the ground was cleared of snow.

Tashilicious
Tashilicious
3 years ago

As a Montrealer, it is often that I see the men referring to this event not as a person attacking women because he was a regressive sexist with outdated ideas, but just “some crazy guy who attacked a school”

Not to mention the amount of people who blame the guys in the classes for not having stopped him.

This is not over, these wounds still fester, and the ongoing reaction to this murder spree should be constantly brought into the limelight to expose how the ideas which led to it are still alive and well.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
3 years ago

Thanks David for the post, and thanks Mammotheers for the beautiful and thoughtful comments. I remember hearing about this on the news back then, all the way down here in Aust.; we were stricken with grief and shock.

I often listen to this song on December 6; the video is great too because it foregrounds and honours the women rather than the murderer. It’s by a folk singer called Judy Small. Some of the lyrics possibly stray a bit into gender essentialism but it’s a lovely song.

Stay safe and take care, wonderful people.

Falconer
Falconer
3 years ago

comment image

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
3 years ago

@Owl,
Oops, I didn’t see that you’d already posted the Judy Small song – sorry!

Everyone remember the guy who sued LSE for discrimination- Tom Martin? He offered a touching comment on Montréal 89 (/s):

https://twitter.com/menagainstmras/status/806288552505970688

Angry Since 11/09/201
Angry Since 11/09/201
3 years ago

Tears as I look at all the pictures of these young beautiful women. They had their entire lives ahead of them and a terrorist took it away merely for them being women. Every time someone says we don’t need feminism anymore, I think of women like these lovely souls. They were reaching for something more and were punished for their temerity. It makes me rage for them. Thanks David for the reminder of what humanity has lost along the way.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

He of the hard chairs are misandry and trafficked children are exploiting their rapist Johns. Always keeping it classy that one.

Flora
Flora
3 years ago

From a friend’s Facebook page that I thought was worth adding to this discussion.

“On December 6th I often think about the beginning of the Montreal Massacre story, when [the shooter] walked into the classroom with a gun and asked all the men to leave… and they did. I often think about how the story might have been different if those men had said no.”
– Jake Pyne

itsabeast
itsabeast
3 years ago

“how can someone reject feminism and not be a misogynist?” Benevolent sexism. It’s correlated with misogyny, but not exactly the same thing.

Kat
Kat
3 years ago

I remember this.

I was living in Berkeley and had an early morning appointment. On my way home, I passed a newsstand and saw the headline.

Four years later I visited Vancouver. On my last morning there, I dropped by a feminist bookstore, which I spotted on my way to catch the bus that came back over the border to the USA. I was touched to see a commemorative button there and I bought it.

kupo
kupo
3 years ago

@itsabeast
I’m not convinced that benevolent sexism isn’t part of misogyny.

Hostile sexism and benevolent sexism are mutually supportive ideologies. In a 19-nation study published in the May, 2000, issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, responses from more than 15,000 people who completed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory showed that countries high in hostile sexism were invariably high in benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism and benevolent sexism are also significantly correlated at the individual level (meaning that a high score on one scale tends to be associated with a high score on the other), though this correlation is not large.

http://www.understandingprejudice.org/asi/faq

Misogyny (/mɪˈsɒdʒɪni/) is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.

Even by the definition of misogyny it should be included as it’s a form of prejudice against women and it results in every single one of the listed manifestations of misogyny in this definition.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

The implication of benevolent sexism is that a woman who stops being worthy of being protected and pedastalized (a Madonna) becomes worthy of severe punishment and derision (a whore).

Beth
Beth
3 years ago

“And I’m so upset that my (Canadian) school has lately been covered in MRA propaganda. Today, of all days, I did not need to find that out.”

That has to be deliberate. The first time I’d ever encountered extreme misogyny online was several guys hailing the shooter as a “hero” and “martyr”. There’s no depths to which they (misogynists) won’t stoop.

Owl
Owl
3 years ago

@Mish — No problem! Judy Small is not nearly so well-known as she should be; the more of us that try to change that, the better.

Glen
Glen
3 years ago

“On December 6th I often think about the beginning of the Montreal Massacre story, when [the shooter] walked into the classroom with a gun and asked all the men to leave… and they did. I often think about how the story might have been different if those men had said no.”

– Jake Pyne

Men need to start saying “no” every time a misogynist speaks.

No more silence.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
3 years ago

There’s a very good if difficult to watch film called Polytechnique that was made about this. Half of it focuses on a fictional survivor, the other on a fictional male student dealing with the fact he didn’t do anything. I highly recommend it.

One of the great things about it is that not only did the director screen it for the families of the victims and get their approval before he released it, he absolutely refused to give the killer a name. Even in the credits the actor is just “Le Tueur.” And there’s a roll call of the dead before the credits.

The killer’s mother also eventually published a book about trying to deal with what her son had done. It’s a pretty tough book.

epitome of incomprehensibility

Thanks for posting this, David. It’s strange, I didn’t participate in any Dec. 6 memorials when I went to school in Montreal, only when I was in Ontario doing my English MA. It was a simple event in a classroom: candles were lit and people from the feminist club (including me) read short bios of the women who were killed.

I already knew about the murders – from a distance, since I was a baby in 1989 – but reading about Maryse Leclair, who was talented and about to graduate and could have done many more interesting things in her life… it made me think of the enormity of the loss, and the damaging effects of violence on so many people.

There was also a screening of the film @Rabid Rabbit mentioned above, Villeneuve’s Polytechnique, and a discussion. Some people thought that it put too much emphasis on a man’s struggle (one of the characters in the film, who helps the main character but is powerless to stop the violence). Someone else pointed out that it ended with the other character, a woman, facing discrimination at work – a good way of linking the murders with other kinds of pervasive but less obvious misogyny. I thought these were both good points.

(I wish I could remember more specifics about the film itself, but I haven’t seen it for four years.)