Remembering the Montreal Massacre
December 6, 2009 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Remembering the Montreal Massacre. A gunman confronts 60 engineering students during their class at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. He separates the men from the women and tells the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. Before opening fire in the engineering class, he calls the women "une gang de féministes" and says "J'haïs les féministes [I hate feminists]." One person pleads that they are not feminists, just students taking engineering. But the gunman doesn't listen. He shoots the women and then kills himself. Parents of the Polytechnique students wait outside the school crying and wonder if their daughters are among the 14 dead.
posted by Hildegarde (134 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wrote it in a word processor that I think added them. :/ My deepest apologies. Please hope me!
posted by Hildegarde at 7:45 AM on December 6, 2009


May I add: Reframing the Montréal Massacre (vimeo video - the vid was created in 1995)
posted by dabitch at 7:50 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, people use word processors to write HTML?

Jesting aside, this remains (20 years later -- holy shit!) a horrific event, equalled but not exceeded by every other massacre committed by a crazy person. Or a sane person.

I hope the families of the victims have come to some kind of peace.
posted by ChrisR at 7:53 AM on December 6, 2009


I fixed the links, Hildegarde.
posted by vacapinta at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2009


THANK YOU SO MUCH! <3
posted by Hildegarde at 7:57 AM on December 6, 2009


CBC Radio 1's Sunday Edition is airing a piece on the Massacre right now; direct link to streaming here, or check your local listings.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:08 AM on December 6, 2009


Also worth adding: Polytechnique (trailer, amazon.ca -- .com and .co.uk only have a few marketplace copies)
posted by CKmtl at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2009


enraging. every time I read

"the feminists who have ruined my life. ... The feminists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being women ... while trying to grab those of men. ... They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can."

I think, "fuck you." No, double fuck you.

and furthermore

.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


F(one of)TA: I realized many years later that in my life and actions, of course I was a feminist"

Interesting choice of comments in hindsight.

So, ignoring the glaringly obvious malfunction in Lepine's wetware, does that statement make his choice of targets more-or-less accurate (if not necessarily his notions thereof)?

Imagine Elie Weisel coming out and saying something like "well, yeah, I guess we really did conspire to destroy the German economy... But nothing personal, just as a matter of good business".

I don't mean this as inflammatory, BTW, just an open train-of-thought as it slowly derails itself.
posted by pla at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2009


toodleydoodley : "They want to retain the advantages of being women ... while trying to grab those of men." [...] I think, "fuck you." No, double fuck you.

Except, "Feminism" does not mean the same thing as "equal rights for women". Feminism does want pretty much exactly that, states explicitly as its primary objective.

I'd call Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem only marginally more sane than Lepine, with only the knowledge that she wouldn't get away with it keeping her from forceably castrating half the human race.
posted by pla at 8:28 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except, "Feminism" does not mean the same thing as "equal rights for women". Feminism does want pretty much exactly that, states explicitly as its primary objective.

Which is just evidence that you know nothing at all about feminism.

I'm kind of embarrased for you, frankly. Most people are taught not to walk around with their ignorance showing like that.
posted by Salieri at 8:31 AM on December 6, 2009 [70 favorites]


You know, having been a first-year undergrad at a university in Canada at the time, I'm not entirely sure if some of the comments in this thread are the best way to commemorate the Polytechnique massacre. Usually people get together in a public place like a square or something and light candles, and save the discussion for any other day.

So, in respect, all I can say is:





.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2009 [17 favorites]


I'd call Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem only marginally more sane than Lepine

Why are you calling her Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem? She certainly never said anything like that.
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2009 [26 favorites]


I'd call Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem only marginally more sane than Lepine

That was Andrea Dworkin, genius.
posted by jonmc at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2009 [68 favorites]


I'd call Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem only marginally more sane than Lepine, with only the knowledge that she wouldn't get away with it keeping her from forceably castrating half the human race.

The sweetest bit of this slice of unadulterated frothing nonsense is that pla actually means Andrea Dworkin. Never mind, though - one uppity broad's as good as another when you're smeering your feces across the ole interweb.

And on behalf of all the women in my life, from my daughter who dreams of being an astronaut or Spiderman and sees no reason to qualify those dreams to the family friend who was at Ecole Polytechnique that day and now, PhD in hand, runs an engineering lab at the University of Calgary:

.
posted by gompa at 8:37 AM on December 6, 2009 [47 favorites]


So, ignoring the glaringly obvious malfunction in Lepine's wetware, does that statement make his choice of targets more-or-less accurate

That's one of the most disgusting things I've ever read on here, I think.
posted by dng at 8:39 AM on December 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'd call Gloria "all sex is rape" Steinem only marginally more sane than Lepine, with only the knowledge that she wouldn't get away with it keeping her from forceably castrating half the human race.

Uhhhh, what? That's a mighty bold assertion. (And bizarre. Because I'm pretty sure that you've got the wrong radical feminist in mind.)

And while it's interesting that you are so very clear on what feminism does and does not mean, I'm curious about these gendered advantages upon which we're unfairly encroaching?
posted by desuetude at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2009


Salieri : Which is just evidence that you know nothing at all about feminism.

"In Sexual Personae, and in media statements and campus appearances made after its publication, Paglia criticized leaders of the American feminist movement. Paglia claimed that they were ignorant of art, science and history, were hostile to men, and were harming young women by teaching them to see themselves as victims. Paglia compared feminists to cults such as the Unification Church Paglia's stance aroused controversy. Paglia has been associated with the term "postfeminism", but rejects this label.

Gloria Steinem compared Sexual Personae to Mein Kampf, and likened Paglia to Adolf Hitler. In response, Paglia called Steinem "evil" and equated her with Joseph Stalin."


Yep. I know nothing about it, and just expose my ignorance.

Somehow I don't see this thread going anywhere good.
posted by pla at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's not let one obviously confused individual with an agenda derail the thread.
posted by justkevin at 8:41 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This day is not all about pla. This thread is not all about pla, no matter how he tries.

Geneviève Bergeron

Helene Colgan

Nathalie Croteau

Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward

Maud Haviernick

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Maryse Laganière

Maryse Leclair

Anne-Marie Lemay

Sonia Pelletier

Michèle Richard

Annie St-Arneault

Annie Turcotte

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.
posted by maudlin at 8:44 AM on December 6, 2009 [83 favorites]


That was Andrea Dworkin, genius.

Actually it's most commonly falsely attributed to feminist anti-porn crusader Catherine MacKinnon, but Dworkin also denied making that exact claim.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on December 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Except, "Feminism" does not mean the same thing as "equal rights for women". Feminism does want pretty much exactly that, states explicitly as its primary objective.

Flagged as exceptionally dumb.
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu : You know, having been a first-year undergrad at a university in Canada at the time, I'm not entirely sure if some of the comments in this thread are the best way to commemorate the Polytechnique massacre.

True enough. I'll leave, now, since clearly my comments won't lead to discussion of any un-PC issues, just the usual vitriol of "how dare you speak such blasphemies" I seem to encounter all to often on the Blue.

I'll only say that I spoke the truth on two counts - He statement (as quoted) has some interesting, if uncomfortable, implications (whether you "like" that or not; And also whether you like it or not, Feminism does not just mean equal for women.

In parting, I'll leave a respectful:

.
posted by pla at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2009


You know, on the off chance that feminism was as destructive to society as its most severe critics claim, that still wouldn't in any way justify this massacre.

Would you post on a thread about lynching with a critique of early 20th century black society? Would you respond to a thread about the Son of Sam murders with a screed about the immorality of premarital sex?

And besides that, Feminism is in no way a Machiavellian power grab by womankind at the expense of men.
posted by idiopath at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2009 [32 favorites]


threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle

I was astonished to think that someone had managed to kill 14 people with a 22 in a crowded room before someone beat him to death. Just a line to note that the gun wasn't what most people would call a .22 (ie .22 long rifle); it was firing 5.56NATO which happens to be .223 caliber.

But they're really different rounds; this picture has both -- the .22LR is on the far right, the 5.56NATO is just to the left. You can imagine how much more killy the 5.56 round is (which is why NATO uses it to kill people).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Somehow I don't see this thread going anywhere good.

If that's the case, it's because of your contributions. If you have an axe to grind with this particular topic and just want to fight with everyone on MetaFilter, please go to MetaTalk. Otherwise you're displaying a problematic lack of understanding of how this community works and what it's for. Further derails and attacks on other members will be removed. Attacks on pla will be removed - people know where MetaTalk is and what it for. Thanks, sorry for the annoying mod interference
posted by jessamyn at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


ROU, I was wondering about that exact same thing. Thank you for clarifying.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2009


Would you respond to a thread about the Son of Sam murders with a screed about the immorality of premarital sex?

No. A plea to spay or neuter your pets? Maybe.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is a memorial post, pla. Please don't do this stuff in threads like this.
posted by mintcake! at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, thank you greatly for the non-annoying mod interference. That wasn't going anywhere well.

I didn't realize that Maryse Leclair was found by her father, one of the police lieutenants. I can think of few things in this world more horrible.

For all of those women,

.
posted by Salieri at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thank you maudlin.

also

.
posted by dabitch at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2009


me: "Would you respond to a thread about the Son of Sam murders with a screed about the immorality of premarital sex?"

Oops. If you are baffled by the non-sequitur I was thinking of the Zodiac killings, where the shooter sought out kids making out on lover's lane.
posted by idiopath at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2009


.
posted by stray at 9:12 AM on December 6, 2009


I was in grad school at the time, four provinces away. Last day of classes, and campus here was abuzz with the usual pre-exam giddiness - hit the pubs Friday, hit the books Saturday. Reports started coming through in the early afternoon, maybe from someone who had a radio on in the lab (no web in those days, and almost none of us even had e-mail). We felt so stupid and so small that we were so concerned about hitting the bar early when it was all happening in Montréal. All we could ask is "Why? But why?" Twenty years later, I still don't know.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(pla: Not here. Not now.)
posted by hangashore at 9:13 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


True enough. I'll leave, now, since clearly my comments won't lead to discussion of any un-PC issues, just the usual vitriol of "how dare you speak such blasphemies" I seem to encounter all to often on the Blue.

there is a time and place to consider your ideas, but this wasn't it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:33 AM on December 6, 2009


Interestingly, in Canada, the group most responsible for the Montreal Massacre commemorations is the White Ribbon Campaign, which is actually a men's group.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:34 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


As someone who was an engineering undergrad when this happened (in Ontario) we were all quite shocked when it happened. Lepine remains in people's memory because (IMO) what he did was in some ways no different from the casual sexism that happens all too often throughout the corridors of engineering schools across Canada. Less than 20% of engineering undergraduates are women and apparently the number has been falling in recent years after it peaked around 2000. I don't know why this is the case but I think that everyone involved with engineering education in Canada needs to reflect on it and do what they can to ensure that women feel that engineering is a profession that is both rewarding and welcoming to them.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


the problem with basing one's knowledge of feminism on a pissing contest between two prominent thinkers is that, like all essentialist thinking, it makes women a monolith, a notion which is provably false. feminism is, above all, about securing equal rights for women, and the fact that some radical feminists make outrageous statements and demands is mainly evidence of their righteous anger that half the human race has been subjugated for too long.

what really happened here is that a member of the privileged sex got mad and scared at the thought of losing a tiny bit of preference and privilege, and defended his perceived entitlement with homicidal violence. I guess, based on the history of the civil rights backlash, I'm surprised that it doesn't happen more often. however, that it doesn't is evidence that a) most men and women are basically civilized and b) there is plenty of backlash, but because most men are civilized, it doesn't involve mass murder.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


mostly
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2009


I can't help thinking about the "Lego gun" incident from the other day in relation to this anniversary. Grown men playing with toy guns seems even more pathetic in this context.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2009


From the CP article:

Some students and staff never stepped foot in the Polytechnique again. Sarto Blais, a graduate, hanged himself eight months after the massacre, saying in his suicide note he was torn apart by guilt that he didn't stop Lepine.

The following June, his parents also committed suicide, unable to cope with the loss of their only son.


.
.
.
posted by GuyZero at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by gudrun at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2009


We remember.

.
posted by sandraregina at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2009


Sarto Blais, a graduate, hanged himself eight months after the massacre, saying in his suicide note he was torn apart by guilt that he didn't stop Lepine.

The following June, his parents also committed suicide, unable to cope with the loss of their only son.


oh my god
posted by Danila at 10:04 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, because you can't make any rational arguments against equal rights for women, those who don't want to reveal that they either believe that men are superior or that they have some kind of religious agenda or both wind up attacking any extreme statement any woman ever made rather than dealing with the fact that there are no rational arguments against feminism. Or they simply do idiotic things like this.
posted by Maias at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


So much of this argument (and many others like it) could've been avoided if 'feminism' were called something ungendered. I'm all for gender equality and am probably a feminist, but it's a divisive term, so I tend not to use it. I'm an egalitarian, and that includes gender equality, surely?
posted by Dysk at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2009


...and of course:

.
posted by Dysk at 10:12 AM on December 6, 2009


I'm all for gender equality and am probably a feminist, but it's a divisive term, so I tend not to use it.

It's been made divisive by those who oppose giving women an equal status, in the same way it has been turned into a parodic vision of women with underarm hair burning bras and hating men. I proudly call myself a feminist, because I won't let people who want to deliberately undermine and distort the essential message of feminism -- that the genders should absolutely have equal rights, equal access, and equal opportunity -- recast the word as something divisive, when it is simply a call to justice.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2009 [68 favorites]


could've been avoided if 'feminism' were called something ungendered. I'm all for gender equality and am probably a feminist, but it's a divisive term

Brother Dysk, I see your point but I think it's a divisive term because as a metonymy, the philosophy it contains represents a threat to existing privileged roles. you can change the name, but until the mass of people accept that women are as valuable as men, in every sense of the word, each successive new naming will slide into offensiveness, like all the names ever used for cognitively challenged people, people who prefer having sex with others of the same sex, and people with darker skin than the privileged majority.
that's what's great (or can be great) about reclaiming terms like queer, n***a and bitch - when you own those words, it's hard for somebody else to use them as a stick to hit you with. but for right now, the word feminist is scary, because its usurpation has made it apparently synonymous with "man-hating dyke" and "castrating bitch". how can you move the ball downcourt when you find yourself forever stuck on defense?
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


or, what Astro Zombie said
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2009


toodleydoodley and Astro Zombie, you do of course both raise incredibly good points. But I'm still not convinced of the value of using a gendered word for what is, in essence, an inclusionary movement.
posted by Dysk at 10:27 AM on December 6, 2009


I studied engineering at a Canadian university. There is a bit of a common 'engineering culture' that is shared among most of the bigger schools; similar rituals, like the Iron Ring, and painting yourself purple, and boat races (drinking contests), etc. One of the more puzzling traditions was a fixation with Lady Godiva. The engineer's drinking song that everyone learns in first year is called 'Lady Godiva's hymn'.

I found myself taking an anthropology course and decided to write a paper about engineering culture. I was in the library reading archived issues of the engineering student newspaper, and I discovered that there used to be a tradition where some lucky female engineering student would be chosen for the role of 'Lady Godiva', and would ride naked (or topless at least, as in one photo I saw) at the head of a drunken parade, probably during frosh week or something.

Curious to find out more about this tradition (which I had never heard of) I went through the years to figure out when it stopped. I found out it was the Montreal massacre that killed it. I remember the tone of the editorials as being rather spooked. For a little while at least everyone was suddenly conscious of their attitudes towards women and questioning whether engineering was a welcoming place for women.

Fifteen years later when I went through, the only noticeable legacy of the massacre was an annual remembrance event. Attitudes were generally misogynist and this was rarely questioned. It is hard to build in institutional memory in undergrad programs where people shift out every four years. Sadly whatever lessons may have been learned were largely not remembered.

There is, however, a Women in Engineering student group which was started in 1991 - maybe this was not coincidental.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2009 [19 favorites]


.
posted by threetoed at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2009


not convinced of the value of using a gendered word for what is, in essence, an inclusionary movement

well, the obvious choice, "civil rights," was already taken.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


> toodleydoodley and Astro Zombie, you do of course both raise incredibly good points. But I'm still not convinced of the value of using a gendered word for what is, in essence, an inclusionary movement.

Because it is descriptive of the actual point of the movement in a way that a vague term for "wants equality for everyone" isn't. The latter is a great goal, but one that can only be one with a divide-an-conquer strategy. There's a need to describe various causes, and gender equality is going to be gendered by definition.

And I agree that changing the word won't help. The right wing are masterful at polluting the dialogue in this way. Pacifist, animal rights activist, feminist, environmentalist, liberal -- all these terms carry around a lot of negative connotations. The only way to counter this is to proudly own the term instead of treating it like a bad word, which comes off as an concession that they have a point. Which they don't.
posted by cj_ at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


and of course it would be lovely a) to get all marginalized people under the same banner to fight for their own and others' rights and b) to recognize that perceived minor differences in our struggles and agendae are really part of the power-holders' strategy to continue to fragment, and thus weaken, our efforts on our own behalf.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not true astro zombie. The word feminism implies more than equal rights. That word has a political history, a philosophical, sociological, and cultural history. That divisiveness comes from various people and groups politicizing the word. I find feminism to be an interesting philosophical and sociological debate. Freedom, rights, and protection of women are an important subset of what feminism is about.

If only he had slipped on the ice that morning and broken his neck. Christ what an asshole.
posted by ryanfou at 10:50 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by rtha at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2009


I'm ashamed that my US-based view of history did not somehow make me aware of this horrible event before today. And I have to confess, I'm a bit shocked that it happened as late as 1989. It sounds like something from ten years earlier, when feminism was more of a "new" concept and much more polarizing. Or maybe I'm incorrect in thinking that it had assimilated quite a bit into society by the late 80s.

Either way, it's an awful event, and I pay due respect to all who died as a result of a madman's actions.

.
posted by hippybear at 10:57 AM on December 6, 2009


ryanfou, the word "implies" is problematic all on its own. "implies" deals with connotations, which are the meanings that a term acquires through exposure to hostile and sympathetic users. it carries overtones that may not have existed in the term's original denotation, or stated meaning.

"male" and "female" also have connotations that affect the people they describe in a way that may not actually describe each one of those people. there was a previous FPP here that linked to a genderizer plugin that framed a website and changed all the gendered nouns and pronouns to the opposite gender, just to show how viewing the same piece of information in the opposite-gendered terms affects your perception of the information.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:57 AM on December 6, 2009


sorry, I gave myself a headache too ;-p
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2009


.
posted by emperor.seamus at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2009


Somehow I had managed to go through life without hearing about this atrocity. Thank you, Hildegarde, for this post. I teared up reading the links.
posted by Kattullus at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2009


I also meant to say thanks, Hildegarde.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:03 AM on December 6, 2009


That word has a political history, a philosophical, sociological, and cultural history.

It's a large, old, and varied movement, but at its core is the call to equal rights. It's convenient for people who oppose feminism to try and represent minority opinions, or radical opinions, or outlandish opinions, or quoted-out-of-context opinions, or misremembered opinions, in order to discredit feminism by behaving as though it were a monolith and therefore anything spoken by any one self-identified feminist somehow represents the movement as a whole, but the core of the movement is the pursuit of equal legal rights and protections for women.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on December 6, 2009 [19 favorites]


thanks, AZ, for stating clearly what I meant.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2009


How time flies. This was 20 years ago.
I was 17 when this happened, in my graduating year of high school.
When the news broke of 14 women dying that night, I tried to image what the victims looked like. In my mind, I saw images of women, full of life experience, with faces older and more mature than mine - to a 17-year-old, a 25-year-old woman did look "older", knew more about everything - they were "adults", while I was still a "boy".

And that image of these women, always older than me, always more experienced and mature than me, remained in my head. I never really thought about their actual ages; just as women who were older and wiser than me.

Last night I was reading the names of the victims and their dates of birth. And something prompted me to do a bit of math:

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968) - age 21
Hélène Colgan (born 1966) - age 23
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966) - age 23
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967) - age 22
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968) - age 21
Maud Haviernick (born 1960) - age 29
Maryse Laganière (born 1964) - age 25
Maryse Leclair (born 1966) - age 23
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967) - age 22
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961) - age 28
Michèle Richard (born 1968) - age 21
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966) - age 23
Annie Turcotte (born 1969) - age 20
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958) - age 31

For some reason, the juxtaposition of my image of them as "older" women next to their actual ages was shocking - I realized that today, 20 years later, I am older than each one of these women, the night their lives were so violently extinguished.

Today, I have had 20 more years to grow, to learn, to experience life - for these women and their loved ones, time stopped in December, 1989.

And I think about my life in my 20s, when I was full of hope, full of dreams and ideas, and I realize that in the grand scheme that is life, these were actually young women, in reality not much older than I, in the springtime of their lives.

And it saddens me more - should it though? A life is a life - it's tragic to lose a life unexpectedly, regardless of one's age. But still.

I think about all the things I've done between 1989 and today, and now realize that in all these years, there were 14 women who were cheated of those same opportunities and discoveries, all because of a sick, twisted, demented and horrible, horrible man.

.............. (for the women)

... (for Sarto Blais, and his parents)

. (not for Marc Lepine - you were a disgusting monster - but for the son of your disgusting father, who never had a chance and who probably died many years before).
posted by bitteroldman at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2009 [40 favorites]


As sad as this crazy event is, the Canadian media has now tried for decades to get the general public to care about this with very little success. Realistically, it`s not a sign of an ingrained misogyny in Canada, it`s the work of one lunatic whose paranoid fantasies led him to pick up a gun and do a horrendous act. To paint it differently is unfair to the far majority who are eager to accept equals in society.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2009


On "feminism" being a divisive term: every liberation movement, including the US civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement, has been accused of fostering division. It's what happens when you try to abolish a social division; reactionaries will accuse you of inventing the division or say the division is in fact natural and harmonious. Sometimes it's OK to be divisive.
posted by stammer at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2009 [24 favorites]


I've been so upset by this thread all day (like Kattullus, I didn't even know the massacre had happened until I read about it here). All of it is abhorrent and tragic, but I'm mostly just disturbed by how this murderer-- even if he refrained from sexual violence-- seems to have been operating under the same rampant misplaced aggression against women that MeFi discussed in the Schroedinger's Rapist and later threads. He clearly leaned a bit closer to the insane side of the fence than most men, but his way of thinking isn't rare enough by a long shot.

I'm glad that Nathalie Provost has been able to claim the word feminist for herself, and I'm proud to stand beside her.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's been made divisive by those who oppose giving women an equal status

Not entirely. This is really not the best time and place, but "feminism" is as at least as big a tent as "libertarianism," and encompasses any number of contradictory figures and viewpoints.

I think we'd all be better off if our political identifiers were less defined around their most radical, divisive, or sociopathic adherents. That said, feminism can't disown this bullshit any more than I can disown anarcho-capitalism. Yes, it is unfortunate that the same lunatics get brought up every time we talk about these words, but we can't just abjure them away by crying strawman or raising the True Scotsman.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2009


I learned about the Montreal Massacre and other female-target massacres after the Collier Township shooting earlier this year.

.
posted by muddgirl at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2009


I was in Montreal when this happened. I was a student at another university in my final term, just getting ready for finals and finishing off my last couple of papers.

I remember where I was when this happened, I remember everything about the few hours following hearing about it like people of an earlier generation seem to remember when they heard about JFK or as I also remember 9/11.

For a certain generation of Canadian students and in particular those of us who were in Montreal at the time (and Montreal, with 4 major universities, had and has a lot of students) this was almost universally an incredibly formative event. It was particularly shocking because in Quebec we often think of debates like "feminism" as over - even then. Quebec is very progressive, and at least in official culture even then I believe the "official" stance was that most of the battles had already been fought and won in terms of equality for women. Clearly that wasn't the case, and the focus on violence against women that the Montreal Massacre brought to the fore was one of the lingering positive outcomes of such a shocking event.
posted by mikel at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for sharing this reminder, Hildegarde.

I am proud to be a feminist, even if some people have said stupid hateful things that they called "feminism", just as I am proud to be a Christian despite Fred Phelps.

Just as men should be proud to be men, despite Marc Lepine or George Sodini or Charlie Roberts who believed that being a man meant killing women.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


That said, feminism can't disown this bullshit any more than I can disown anarcho-capitalism. Yes, it is unfortunate that the same lunatics get brought up every time we talk about these words, but we can't just abjure them away by crying strawman or raising the True Scotsman.

Riiiiiight. So by that logic, liberals can't disown this bullshit. Or this bullshit. If you bring up a viewpoint that is shared by .001% of feminists and then use it to try to discredit feminism, then damn right you are raising a strawman.

So much of this argument (and many others like it) could've been avoided if 'feminism' were called something ungendered.

The point of feminism is that unfortunately women are not treated as equals to men in this society. That is a gendered statement, so the philosophy that this needs to be remedied also has a gendered name. Of course, the fact that women are not treated as equals sucks for men too (see recent threads about this on the blue), so feminism supports goals that benefit everyone, not just women; but feminism is quite aptly named.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:30 PM on December 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


May I add: Reframing the Montréal Massacre (vimeo video - the vid was created in 1995)
posted by dabitch


Mahalo, mahalo for that video.

I posted this for my friends:

I watched two videos this weekend - the juxtaposition was ironic: "Milk" - showing tragedy that leads to the exhilarating political arousal of the gay community; and "Reframing the Montreal Massacre" - that shows a tragedy that leads to misogynist media snuffing out feminist anger.

Even today so many women deny being 'feminist' (or even angry). When do we come out of the closet?

Worth watching twice:
posted by Surfurrus at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


whoops -- the link ---> Remembering the Montreal Massacre (1995) -- and "Milk" is also worth watching twice!
posted by Surfurrus at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2009


Thank you for posting this, Hildegarde.

.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:03 PM on December 6, 2009


I think of the point of feminism as not as being "women are not treated as equal to males" but "men and women are not treated as equal." This is a gendered statement, yes, but that's because it's about gender, not because it calls for changes from or for only one gender. My kind of feminism would also free men from having their thoughts/beliefs/opportunities/behaviours dictated by gender. Yes, I want women to be truly free to be engineers and cops and I want men to be truly free to be kindergarten teachers and nurses. That involves not only legal equality, which kinda sorta mostly already exists, but equality in the ways we treat one another and our children. We can't fault one person for doing something that we either tolerate or expect in another based on one chromosome or the shape of someone's genitals - that includes taking an interest in science, crying, fixing cars, working outside the home, working inside the home, feeding babies, building decks, opening businesses, being bitches, being wimpy, baking cakes and refinishing hardwood floors, being afraid of spiders and decorating with floral prints. If you want to do it, you should be able to do it without judgement regardless of what your bits look like (I mean assuming you could do it without judgement if your bits looked different).

Similarly, feminism means not expecting things from people that we dont' expect from people of the other gender. Men don't have to be providers and they don't have to be "strong" and women don't have to be nurturing or domestic. If that's not your thing that's ok. In a feminist world nobody tells anybody that they have to do or be anything just because of what you might find between their legs.

And yeah, because women are disportionately concentrated in lower-status positions, equality will mean that just as the proportion of women in some higher status occupations goes up, the proportoin of men in lower status occupations goes up, too. Men have plenty to lose, it's true. But I think it's wrong to portray feminism as something that has nothing positive to offer men. Men are as imprisoned by gender expectations as women.

And this view of feminism as freeing both men and women (Remember, men are more often the victim's of men's violence than women) is one held by the White Ribbon Campaign. See Michael Kaufman, feminist theorist, of the White Ribbon Campaign on the Triad of Men's Violence. The first form of violence being the emotional violence men do to themselves to force themselves into the form required of masculinity.

Realistically, it`s not a sign of an ingrained misogyny in Canada, it`s the work of one lunatic whose paranoid fantasies led him to pick up a gun and do a horrendous act. To paint it differently is unfair to the far majority who are eager to accept equals in society.

I think you're missing the fact that paranoid fantasies are shaped by the zeigeist of the society in which they form. That crazy guy who beheaded a bus driver would still have been crazy if not for 9/11, but the idea of killing the operator of a form of public transportation came from the culture swirling around him and so his craziness manifested itself in that way where it otherwise might have manifested itself differently.

I was an adult before I had any awareness that anti-semitism existed or had ever existed. I mean I knew about the holoacaust obviously, but I thought Hitler was a crazy guy and crazy people could go off on anyone right? There's no predicting crazy people! What I didn't understand though we covered the holocaust in high school was that he was a hateful person, but that the targets of his hate were not random, they were shaped by having lived in a culture where anti-semitism was an available, present, and visible worldview.

Neither example requires that the majority be hateful or have fantasies of doing anyone harm. It just means that the form that a disturbed person's breakdown or lashing out eventually takes is shaped by what's available in the culture. It doesn't have to be the majority of the culture, just something of a vein running through the culture. So it can be both the act of a lunatic and a sign of some part of Canadian culture. I don't see these as mutually exclusive. You never see any lunatic's primary issue being about people who are left-handed or people who wear white shoes, or people who put up their Christmas trees on December 7th. There's nothing in the culture to suggest and form prejudice against those groups.

Anyway, every week I walk past the fourteen trees planted on Philosophers' Walk in memory of these women and I remember. Sadly, I was on the subway today and didn't see a single white ribbon. I'm not a fan of ribbon campaigns especially when they seem to become qausi-mandatory, but I was saddened by this nonetheless.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2009 [27 favorites]


This is a really excellent post, Hildegarde. Thank you.

..............
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:39 PM on December 6, 2009


the targets of his hate were not random, they were shaped by having lived in a culture where anti-semitism was an available, present, and visible worldview.

FTW
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2009


it was firing 5.56NATO which happens to be .223 caliber.

So was the rifle a .22 caliber or something else? (I don't know much about guns. I bought a Ruger 10/22 not long ago, and there's no way it would take a 5.56NATO.) I, too, would think that walking into a crowded room with a .22 rifle would lead to a prompt ass-whipping.

Kip Kinkel had a .22 rifle, a .22 pistol, and a 9mm pistol; not sure which of those he used to kill 2 and injure 25.
posted by neuron at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2009


I think you're missing the fact that paranoid fantasies are shaped by the zeigeist of the society in which they form. That crazy guy who beheaded a bus driver would still have been crazy if not for 9/11, but the idea of killing the operator of a form of public transportation came from the culture swirling around him and so his craziness manifested itself in that way where it otherwise might have manifested itself differently.

I think you're missing the point that if it wasn't feminist discussion in media and 9/11 then it would have been just as easy for a paranoid schizophrenic (or a host of other mental diseases) to choose genetically-modified foods or the horror in Bhupal as their driving force for doing very evil things. Regarding your left-handed or white-shoes examples...I agree those don't have societal focus that feminism does. But assuredly there are people out there whose primary focus are the hundreds of other issues we are beat over the head with daily in the media. Again, it's not about the issue, it's about the mentally-disturbed person, and their reaction to those issues.

It's not about the society; it's not about the events that the crazy person harps on about and focuses on to self-propel and self-delude; it's about a person or persons who have big issues that often are not recognized or treated, and others paying a penalty for that, as these women did.

I have no doubt that we'll see more crimes by disturbed people tailored to race relations, to homosexual acceptance, etc. in the next decades. That's not the fault of those involved in those issues necessarily. It's the fault of the disturbed mind who can't handle rational thought about those issues and reacts because of that.

So, I end with: when will the outrage following these circumstances be the mistreatment (or lack of any treatment at all) for the mentally ill?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2009


swimming, all the current reports indicate that Marc Lapine was not mentally ill, nor was he irrational. This appears to have been a considered decision.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:08 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Joad at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2009


when will the outrage following these circumstances be the mistreatment (or lack of any treatment at all) for the mentally ill?

What evidence do you have for Lepine being mentally ill, other than the fact that he killed 14 women in an act of misogynist rage? What evidence do you have that he ever sought any mental health treatment at all?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2009


swimming, all the current reports indicate that Marc Lapine was not mentally ill, nor was he irrational. This appears to have been a considered decision.

Eh? A considered decision, perhaps, of a mentally ill, irrational person. Sane, rational people do not massacre innocent people.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2009


Heh. In other words, TRUE Scotsman do not massacre innocent people?
posted by small_ruminant at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What evidence do you have for Lepine being mentally ill, other than the fact that he killed 14 women in an act of misogynist rage?

Why would you exclude the obvious indicator his mental illness?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2009


when will the outrage following these circumstances ... be focused on our personal culpability in how we allow the media (even friends and acquaintances?) speak (sometimes even in 'humor') with hatred, distain or dismissal - of ANY group?

Horrible acts by 'unstable people' (all ignorance and violence) are fueled by good people tacitly approving humiliation and violence with their silence.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:26 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese - 'mental illness'?? In the general culture of n. america in 1989 misogynist rage was a topic of humor (approved and encouraged) -- even endorsed (as 'deserved') ... and some of the posts here demonstrate that we really haven't come very far from that.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2009


And this view of feminism as freeing both men and women (Remember, men are more often the victim's of men's violence than women) is one held by the White Ribbon Campaign.

Calling this feminism makes it obvious what the viewpoints are being filtered through. Why would eliminating gender expectations be called "feminism"? Identity politics at play... egalitarianism needs no qualifications. While feminism is broad to the point of not meaning anything, as it represents a zillion schools of thought that are not compatible, it's clear that leaning on it as a filter through which you view equal rights and a free society is a bias of special interest. If it's not dealing directly with females then it serves no purpose as a distinctive term.
posted by rob paxon at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2009


So, I end with: when will the outrage following these circumstances be the mistreatment (or lack of any treatment at all) for the mentally ill?

Well, Canada has national health care and much, much better access to mental health care (and evidence-based care, at that) than the U.S. does. The thing about mental illness, however, is that certain conditions-- certainly those that manifest by people getting guns and shooting people-- tend not to be ones that people recognize that they suffer from.

What's interesting to me is that Canada has about as many guns per capita as the U.S. -- but much, much fewer incidents like this.
posted by Maias at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2009


Maias: I'm not sure what the per-capita is on these incidents, but the numbers game is that larger populations make such things inevitable. Amount of gun owners matters little, as if you're willing to kill dozens of people you're certainly willing to track down a gun. So, I would imagine that a large amount of the difference is population, though there's probably some slight cultural inclinations at play as well.
posted by rob paxon at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2009


I am thankful and appreciative of the thoughtful comments here - the people leaving their respects, etc - but those of you who have taken this as an opportunity to re-open the case and examine the motives of Marc Lepine and debate the merits of feminism, you are showing a rather extreme insensitivity.

There are women here - I am one of them - who have been victims (and are survivors of) gender-based violence. This day is about remembering specific women who never got the chance to be survivors themselves - about honoring their memories, not the memory of their murderer, nor the spirit of his crime by making sweeping (and often uninformed) statements about feminism and women.

This date is not about you. If you can't accept that, please reconsider whether any response at all is even appropriate.
posted by ellehumour at 3:02 PM on December 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


MP Megan Leslie delivered a fantastic speech about the shooting, on last year's anniversary.
posted by Jairus at 3:50 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


all the current reports indicate that Marc Lapine was not mentally ill, nor was he irrational. This appears to have been a considered decision.

Outside of being a soldier during wartime (and even this is up for debate, I suspect), how can undertaking the deliberate murder of 14 individuals for ANY reason not automatically qualify someone as mentally ill or irrational, even if that state was temporary? (not snark -- genuinely curious as to the reasoning which leads someone to regard paranoid murder as not insanity)
posted by hippybear at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why would you exclude the obvious indicator his mental illness?

How would he be treated for mental illness, even granting that "shooting 28 people in an act of misogynist rage" was an outcome of mental illness, before shooting 28 people if that was the first indication of mental illness?

It's a bit tautological at best. "Oh, this mass murderer must have been mentally ill, so the lesson we should all take from this mass murder is that we need better treatment for mental illness. How do we know he's mentally ill? Well, he's a mass murderer, therefore he must be mentally ill."
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think attaching yourself and your experience to victims of murder is any less insensitive than discussing a 20-year-old event relating to people we did not know with some objective detachment, ellehumour. Every day is the anniversary of something terrible. Everything relates to us, the living, and gaining from history is as valid an 'honor' as proselytizing the memory of strangers.
posted by rob paxon at 4:12 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(not snark -- genuinely curious as to the reasoning which leads someone to regard paranoid murder as not insanity)

In general, violent psychopaths are not considered "insane" - they know the difference between right and wrong, they just lack the ability to care or to empathize. Of course I don't know if Lepin was a psychopath or suffered from some other disorder, and I don't really care.
posted by muddgirl at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2009


rob paxon, one of the reasons I honor the memory of these women is because it is far too common for women and girls to be killed by men who are angry at them simply for the "crime" of being female.

I'll be happy to change the names of "feminism" and "womanism" to "egalitarianism" or "shoofly pie" or anything else you like when that stops happening. Until then, I'm going to keep using the word "feminism," which has been in the dictionary for 100 years or so, whether you like it or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Men are also killed by women. And by women. And women are killed by women. And whoever is in power always uses it to abuse those without it. But you're connecting two comments that do not relate. All I was saying in the last comment is that one person's concept of honoring and idea that honoring (in their expected fashion) is the specific purpose does not really put that person in a position to dictate these concepts as gospel. More simply, aside from a few specific comments I don't feel like fanning flames over, I don't see how the tenor of this thread is insensitive. If the idea is to only allow posts of "R.I.P." and "I will think of you always", then I don't see how this is the right forum.

You can relay this logic to Columbine as a supposed outlash upon "bullies" and the fact most of the victims were not "bullies", though to a way of thinking most people are at some level "bullies". Would such a thread not allow the discussion of serious matters like bullying and gun control/rights to enter collective consciousness? Of course not. There's no way to confront the matter otherwise. A discussion thread can't be expected to be a solemn memorial where people just walk up and touch it with their head bowed. That does not mean you can not approach it as such.

Re: "feminism", that comment, unrelated to the previous, was not against the term. It was against applying feminist-centric viewpoints as an unbiased, egalitarian agenda, which it in most contexts is not (nevermind that no one is going to come close to defining feminism here, as it is completely divergent). Malcolm X is an analogue here and that is not a criticism of feminists (of any type) nor Malcolm X, merely pointing out the obviousness of having a narrow-focused agenda precluding some kind of exclusion of others and their issues at large.
posted by rob paxon at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:42 PM on December 6, 2009


*Men are killed by men. And women.

To clarify further, men are as likely a victim of men as women are, and the fact that the handful of power positions at each level are filled more likely by men or women does precious little for the men or women outside of those positions. Nevermind the topics of race, class, level of social obedience, and all other manner of factors that are equally as valid and vital to any such discussion alongside gender.

The bigger issue here is about sociopaths and psychopaths and a culture that leads to these kinds of things, regardless of the victims or the superficial reasoning of the deluded mind at play. If you want to make this a martyrdom for a cause that's fine, it can even be great and powerful. But it's fairly insensitive to do so while tell others how to do it lest they be insensitive, as the coupling of the two tastes of exploitation. Different angles of viewing an event are required to extract the full analysis and respect of the consequences of all factors at play. That to me is a fine memorial, if supplementary to those with a more direct emotional response.
posted by rob paxon at 4:44 PM on December 6, 2009


rob paxon, your comment would probably be more appropriate in the MeTa thread.

And you're sorely mistaken if you think that feminism, at its core, is anything other than an egalitarian movement. It sounds like you're buying wholeheartedly into some unfortunate exaggerations and stereotypes without bothering to learn what feminism really means.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:45 PM on December 6, 2009


rob paxon, I couldn't help but notice that there isn't a single coherent idea in any of what you just said. It might have something to do with all the polysyllabic words you jammed in there without any thought to context. I suggest you use a vocabulary that's more organic to your thought processes, like "hurf durf."
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:46 PM on December 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seriously, please, take it to MeTa.
posted by Ouisch at 4:49 PM on December 6, 2009


I grieve on this day every year. For many reasons.

But what I always remember is that I was starting to plan university. Montreal, the massacre, the Lady Godiva rides at university, the chilly climate I perceived in engineering...I could not bring myself to study those subjects. I went into Arts. In 1992, the Concordia Massacre just affirmed my decision to steer clear of engineering, in spite of having been considered highly gifted with many of the core subjects.

Oddly enough, I found my way into the high tech sector through other means. And I consulting for engineering and software companies now, with a focus on values, relationships, trust and helping people find the way to their dreams and their passions. I mentor. I coach. I guide. I am the feminist in engineering, even if I am not an engineer.

When I meet engineers who are younger than me, they seem not to know anything about Montreal or Lady Godiva. I'm glad, honestly.
posted by acoutu at 4:54 PM on December 6, 2009


oinopaponton: I've not defined feminism, and my reply was in direct context to someone else's blanket claim on the matter. Re: Taking it to the MeTa, you could as well say that to those I responded to. Regardless, I'll respect that wish and bow out, as I don't think anyone's interested in parsing what I'm saying, as evidenced by the person below you's childish redirect-and-reset.
posted by rob paxon at 5:03 PM on December 6, 2009


I was in grade ten in the fall of 1989. It was a very shocking and revelatory experience; we thought it was just going to be in principle that we would be feminists. We didn't seriously believe there were people in the world that felt this way. I started undergrad in 1993, and the massacre didn't feel very far away. Debates about it still abounded. I've attended memorials almost every year that I've been in the country, and I've found each of them difficult.

What I appreciate most about the coverage of the 20 year anniversary is the reversal of the strange reassurances we got at the time. It's not really a feminist issue, it was just some crazy guy, this doesn't mean anything. I was uncomfortable with this line of reasoning then and I'm glad to see it questioned in the media today.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:07 PM on December 6, 2009


Men are also killed by women. And by women. And women are killed by women.

I have no examples of a massacre where the killer has said "I am killing men, and only men, today," or a massacre where a woman has said "I am killing women, and only women, today." Not one.

Marc Lepine is only one of the men who have announced, while killing women and girls, that he was doing it because of their gender. George Sodini is another. Charles Roberts is another. Duane Morrison is another. These are just the ones I remember off the top of my head.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:10 PM on December 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


What I appreciate most about the coverage of the 20 year anniversary is the reversal of the strange reassurances we got at the time. It's not really a feminist issue, it was just some crazy guy, this doesn't mean anything.

Well, the fact that explicitly misogynist mass murders have happened several more times since the Poly killing makes it hard for any reasonable person to do this. When someone says "I'm killing these strangers because they're women and I hate women" I tend to take them at their word.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hildegarde: Do you have any links to the he-wasn't-mentally-ill stuff? I've been avoiding the TV/radio news and the papers, but I'd like to see how they're arriving at that conclusion.

I mean, I don't completely buy into the "abominable act, therefore abnormal/insane" line of reasoning, but at the same time I don't quite get the "considered action, therefore not mentally ill" line either (if it's being used outside of the legal context). People will certain types of mental illness are quite capable of creating and acting on elaborate plans.
posted by CKmtl at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2009


One more time: please take the discussion about feminism and Marc Lepine's mental illness or lack thereof to Meta. (Especially, please take the gun talk out of here-- "I have an X567JX.40 and it shoots 400 calibre whatevers!"-- it's making me feel ill in this context.) I really don't want to do Feminism 101 in this thread, you know?
posted by jokeefe at 5:47 PM on December 6, 2009


A friend of mine spoke at McGill during a memorial today. Here's an except:
Women suffer violence not because we are physically meek or simply because men are aggressive and hormonally aflame. Women are attacked, at least in part, because we are powerful, because we are important, because we matter, and because we represent a threat. The women at the Ecole Polytechnique, just over the mountain, were killed because the killer felt that they had taken something from him. They were “feminists” by virtue of occupying traditionally male roles and assuming a power that, to his eyes, was not supposed to be theirs.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:05 PM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


As an engineer, and as a woman, and as a feminist, I live and work every day in memory of the Montreal victims, and in defiance of people like Lepine who think my gender should in any way dictate what I do with my life.
posted by casarkos at 6:07 PM on December 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


please take the discussion about feminism and Marc Lepine's mental illness or lack thereof to Meta.

This is a forum for discussion. It is not disrespectful of the victims or those who remember them to talk about what happened that day and why.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:40 PM on December 6, 2009


It was against applying feminist-centric viewpoints as an unbiased, egalitarian agenda, which it in most contexts is not (nevermind that no one is going to come close to defining feminism here, as it is completely divergent).

Unbiased and egalitarian are not the same thing. They are often mutually exclusive. Feminism, on most definitions, is a biased, egalitarian agenda.
posted by stammer at 7:05 PM on December 6, 2009


.
posted by dr. moot at 7:30 PM on December 6, 2009


This is a forum for discussion. It is not disrespectful of the victims or those who remember them to talk about what happened that day and why.

To talk about what happened that day, yes; but there is an active Meta thread which is continuing the why, and debating the political context of the shootings. Which is the appropriate place for it, given that some very contentious remarks were made in this thread initially, and Meta is providing a place to hash those things out.
posted by jokeefe at 8:53 PM on December 6, 2009


No matter how many times we say 'never again', terrible things like this keep happening, don't they?

Writing words about heartbreakingly wrong things like this always feels to me like trivializing them, somehow. That's probably a counterproductive feeling, or at least so we're told.

I don't know. I get older and I start to think more often that the default mode of the human animal is damaged and deranged.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:53 PM on December 6, 2009


I never understand why some men want stories about women, about things that explicitly are about women, and are about things that explicitly affect women, to instead be stories about how hard it is to me a man, or how it affects men, or how it makes men feel. To my eyes, this is the height of disrespect, and the fact that men do it, over and over, without awareness of it, is the distinct mark of privilege.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:08 PM on December 6, 2009 [35 favorites]


...and the Conservative party of Prime Minister Steven Harper has chosen this time to... officially dismantle long-gun registration in Canada... with the co-operation of the Liberal and NDP parties?
posted by ovvl at 9:30 PM on December 6, 2009


My comment was not intended as a response to the wonder chicken; if its read that way, I'm sorry. I actually agree that that default mode of the human animal seems damaged. I've seen a lot of it in the past week, and it's awfully depressing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:30 PM on December 6, 2009


Thanks for clarifying, AZ. In future as in past, I think I will try to avoid these kinds of threads. It's just too damn harrowing to see people respond to tragedy by going at each other.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on December 6, 2009


"That said, feminism can't disown this bullshit any more than I can disown anarcho-capitalism. Yes, it is unfortunate that the same lunatics get brought up every time we talk about these words, but we can't just abjure them away by crying strawman or raising the True Scotsman."

Just to clarify—Did you bother going through and reading the quote? I mean, maybe this is because I went to J-school, but the quote was clearly framed to make it controversial, and made dumber by Reddit's retard squad. The assistant dean was noting that she was unwilling to preemptively rule out some subjective definitions of rape, and within that context was noting that there were possible situations in which men could learn from being accused of rape without having sexual intercourse. By framing that as encouraging false reports (even with the odious mention prior of a survivor having "really" been raped), it's a journalist with an agenda trying to provoke, and should have been axed by a good editor.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 PM on December 6, 2009


.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:03 PM on December 6, 2009


ovvl, the gun registry wouldn't have prevented this evil act, and it hasn't prevented any subsequent homicides. I think it's really inappropriate to try to use this tragedy as a justification for a law that no-one has ever been able to clearly articulate a clear rationale for. It was a political response to a tragedy; the fact that a pointless law is being undone now is just a coincidence. Let me ask you this: if you had a billion dollars to prevent violence against women, would you use it getting farmers and hunters to register their rifles and shotguns? Wouldn't you see that as being a waste, and detrimental to efforts to fight violence against women? Don't assume that gun-registry proponents hold the moral high ground here. It was a horrible crime, committed by a horrible man. Remembering the victims doesn't have to mean that we stop thinking through what would really reduce violent crime.
posted by Dasein at 11:06 PM on December 6, 2009


I am embarassed to say I didn't know about this until reading this post. Thanks, Hildegarde, for educating me.

(and)

.
posted by somanyamys at 6:36 AM on December 7, 2009


I was ten years old when this happened, and it was just as incomprehensible to me then as it is now. Even more so now, perhaps. I have never understood the impetus of some men to demonize women as some alien creatures from another planet, and therefore as less worthy. People is people; we're all red on the inside. That so many men so frequently think that the best reaction to their own pain is to inflict it on others--overwhelmingly on women and children--is, I think, a failing of our society as a whole.

Now, I've been roundly castigated for expressing such sentiments before, so let's start this by saying: what Lepine did was inexcusable, horrific, tragic, and still causes echoes of pain twenty years later. We can never know what the true cost to the world was; perhaps one of these women would have gone on to build great things for the world. Perhaps simple things--homes and sewers and street lights. But we can measure part of the cost: fourteen families lost daughters and sisters, and uncounted friends lost companions.

But all that being said, the Lepines of the world represent in some ways a failure on the part of the rest of us. How did nobody see his rage and pain? How did nobody reach out and say "Hey, maybe I can help you through this"? Of course he was ultimately responsible for his own actions. Of course we cannot predict who will snap and who will not. But, to share a wholly unoriginal thought, we are at a stage in human history where more people live in closer physical proximity than at any other time--and yet our mental distance from each other is shockingly profound. The latter is probably caused by the former, but nevertheless, we are less truly connected to each other and to our communities than ever before. We all do it; I have lived in the same apartment for two years now and I know half a dozen people in my building by name. When a few months ago an ambulance showed up flashing and ringing for a girl with a serious health condition, we were all kind of shocked--we had no idea, because we never bothered to know.

So I think that's part of the problem, and you can trace that through most such events--Lepine, Columbine, and on and on. People who feel isolated and alone and full of rage have no one to act as a reality check. Obviously there is more at play here; that Lepine could target his rage so carefully points to issues in how he related to women generally, but I think the solution is the same in any case: reach out to people. Show other people that you--female, male, queer, of colour, hetero, white, abled, disabled, whatever--are a person just like they are, and nothing to be feared or hated. I suck at it; this isn't a high horse thing. But maybe if more of us tried doing that, we'd see fewer incidents like this.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Theta States at 9:18 AM on December 7, 2009


“In a feminist world nobody tells anybody that they have to do or be anything just because of what you might find between their legs.”
Pretty much why I’m a feminist.

“Even today so many women deny being 'feminist' (or even angry). When do we come out of the closet?”

Weird. You’d think a vicious bastard shooting women would provoke a visceral reaction maybe in favor of whatever it was he was opposing. I don’t know any men off-hand who identify as feminists. I do, but I’ve got, like, armadillos in my trousers so I’m fairly secure. (Yeah that’s a pull quote from Spinal Tap referencing male insecurity)

But hell, if he were shooting innocent women because he hated communism I’d re-think my position on it. (Feminism’s easy for any thinking individual. Although I'm more committed after we had a baby girl)

Bit of a catch-22, one would think a even – or perhaps especially a chauvanist would have wanted to protect those women (or protect themselves or ideally, not have the need of course).
I mean, wow. Angry man attacks women/girls for being women – there’s no base male angry reaction? No one’s thinking that could be my sister, mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend and I’d kill that s.o.b. if he even thought about messing with them?
No? We debate feminism?

Actually, kind of makes sense. Guy takes a boatload of hostages, points a pistol at a childs head, you shoot the guy and there’s always a group of apologists “oh, you didn’t have to shoot him you Gestapo-wannabe, he was only pushed by your country’s foreign polices and blah blah blah.”
Guy shoots innocent women he’s destroyed any real validity he might have had in presenting any kind of case. I’m sorry he didn’t get whatever help he needed, and he should have.
But the fact that he suffered child abuse, the fact that he inherited his beliefs from his misogynist father, his loneliness – none of that justifies displaced aggression.

And that’s all that really was at heart. There was no philosophy there, no real thought – just whatever he could do to assuage the guilt and lay this all off on someone else. It was ‘feminists’, but it could have been anybody or anything else.

And more’s the pity, because this violence occurred for no reason at all other than just this guy’s motives. The matter of feminism is, at best, a red herring.

He could have said get all the women because they’re bitches, or into aestheticism ('cos he had acne and whatnot) or he could have used a nonsense word because whatever feminism means or doesn’t mean, in this case it meant whatever he wanted it to mean to justify killing/wounding those women.
Whatever he said didn't much matter. All I see is what he did.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


It boggles my mind that someone...a man...could hate women enough to kill them like this. You never hear about women hating men and hurting them, much less killing them. It really makes you wonder. I blame pottery.
posted by Mike Buechel at 7:43 PM on December 7, 2009


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