In Remembrance...
December 6, 2005 8:50 AM   Subscribe

For 45 minutes on Dec. 6, 1989 an enraged gunman roamed the corridors of Montreal's École Polytechnique and killed 14 women. Marc Lepine, 25, separated the men from the women and before opening fire on the classroom of female engineering students he screamed, "I hate feminists."
posted by aclevername (152 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Apologies if the links are slow, they may be getting heavy traffic, as today is the 16th anniversary.

RIP.
posted by aclevername at 8:52 AM on December 6, 2005


Men are scum, Men are scum.....
All men are murderers and rapists......

Just wanted to get that out of the way now so that 2/3 of the responses can be omitted before they are written.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by Rothko at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by kalimac at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2005


I'll take a moment to note that TheFeatheredMullet's bitter stabbiness is the sort of supportive ideological soup that people like Lepine can flourish in.
posted by verb at 9:00 AM on December 6, 2005 [7 favorites]


Lepine was a nutjob. If he hadn't latched on to "feminism," he'd have just as likely killed a bunch of Rotarians or dairy farmers.
posted by jonmc at 9:00 AM on December 6, 2005


and of course:

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posted by jonmc at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2005


"The choice as to what was best was unclear. But after a few moments, the male students and teachers walked outside."

"Then the gunman came out and strode past them. No one tried to stop him."

where you at, Big Strong Men?
posted by soma lkzx at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2005


That's true, jonmc. The problem is that no mention has been made of men being evil, or scum, or rapists, or whatever. The sort of knee-jerk dismissal of the murder of 45 women as "just another chance to bash men" provides a context in which those like Lepine can nurse their insane preceptions of grievance.
posted by verb at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


Ah, whatever. Typos. I'm just sick at the reading of this article. What a horrible tragedy.

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posted by verb at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by Skwirl at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by unreason at 9:08 AM on December 6, 2005


where you at, Big Strong Men?

My dad, a big strong man, told me several times: don't fuck with a guy who's waving around a gun. Sure, some Guy, Yves or Rene could have tried to tackle Lepine. More than likely, he would've gotten himself killed and then Lepine still would have gone on his kill-crazy rampage.

To head off the canard suggesting that if Quebec had a concealed-carry law that none of this would have happened: there is little evidence that such laws reduce violent crime rates, some evidence that they increase them, and I guarantee that even were concealed-carry legal in Quebec it still would have been forbidden on campus.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:14 AM on December 6, 2005


I remember very clearly when this happened. It was one of the defining tragedies of my teen years, since it happened not too far from where I grew up.

Instead of dragging this into a fight about feminism and evil, I am just going to say may the victims rest in peace.
posted by id girl at 9:16 AM on December 6, 2005


thanks, id girl. i apologize for sinking to it.
posted by verb at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2005


The dismissive comments of jonmc and TFM really are symptomatic of the problem -- if there were political struggle between dairy farmers and the rest of society and if dairy farmers were a majority yet lagged behind in pay and opportunity, and if there had been a series of policies to help overcome that discrimination, and if Marc Lepine thought he had been a victim of pro-dairy farmer discrimination, and THEN had decided to go shoot a bunch of them, then you might have a point, jonmc.

If he had shot a bunch of African-Canadians while shouting segragationist, anti-affirmative action slogans would you even consider making your absurdly uninformed comment?

As it stands, your usual rush to flatten everything down to your level of too-cool-to-care is making you look like an uninformed bigoted jerk. Oh and "of course" that isn't true, those are the optics.
posted by Rumple at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2005 [5 favorites]


If Marc Lepine had separated out the cubists. If he had said, "I hate cubists."
posted by nervousfritz at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by gai at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2005


Rumple: Well, it is stated in one of the links that Lepine had a history of antisocial behavior, and Canadian gun registration laws created in the wake of the murders were intended to keep firearms out of the hands of unstable individuals. He well could have latched onto dairy farmers if there had been controversy about them, or they were a scapegoat for some bitter segment of the larger community.
posted by raysmj at 9:24 AM on December 6, 2005


The dismissive comments of jonmc

I dismiss nothing. Lepine was a vicious murderer and if he hadn't killed himself, I'd be glad to see him rotting in prison for eternity.

And I don't deny that misogyny is pervasive and repugnant.

I'm merely saying that people like Lepine, or the deranged postal workers or the Columbine kids occupy a very different mental place than most of us. So, I think that the inevitable "Lepine is just an extreme example of most men..." is a bit of a stretch. He was angry deranged bitter man who would've found a reason to kill people one way or the other.

As it stands, your usual rush to flatten everything down to your level of too-cool-to-care is making you look like an uninformed bigoted jerk.

your miscomprehension of me and rush to label me as a bigot make you look overreactive and belligerent.
posted by jonmc at 9:27 AM on December 6, 2005


...and Retarded.
posted by Witty at 9:34 AM on December 6, 2005


the inevitable "Lepine is just an extreme example of most men..."

I do not think this word "inevitable" means what you think it means.
posted by lbergstr at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2005


The sort of knee-jerk dismissal of the murder of 45 women

The dismissive comments of jonmc and TFM


I don't understand what is supposedly being 'dismissed' exactly. Murder, loss of human life, is just plain bad whatever the circumstances. Isn't this a given? So, what's being dismissed?
posted by scheptech at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2005


what a tragedy.
may the victims rest in peace and my heart goes out to the survivors, the victims' families, and many who are still suffering/traumatized from the event.
posted by grafholic at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2005


First of all, it was theFeatheredMullet, not me, who made the tired "men are scum.." comment. I merely posited the perfectly valid idea, that Lepine is not reprentative of anything larger than his own violence and rage, which would have found another target had he not latched on to what he thought was feminism.
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on December 6, 2005


jonmc: I said you "look like" a bigoted jerk. Consider it a comment on your optics, not your inner sweetiepie.

raysmj: thats theoretically true, but the fact is, he was angry at "feminists" and that is an anger that is quite widely felt. I feel that hypothetical counter-scenarios act to dilute the import of this act and deny that this act was, indeed, qualitatively different than almost any other mass murder you could point.

/off to meeting
posted by Rumple at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


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posted by arcticwoman at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2005


indeed, qualitatively different than almost any other mass murder you could point.

With all due respect, I'm not sure I buy this. I've done a lot reading on serial killers, mass murderers and the like (I'm something of a criminal psychology buff) and it seems that most of them are lashing out at an "enemy," upon whom they've pinned blame for the miseries of their lives. The postal workers were "angry," at the Postal Service heirarchy, the Columbine kids were mad at bullies, the guy who did the Luby's cafteria massacre in Texas yelled "this is what Bell* County has done to me!" as he shot, so he was angry at a whole community.

I put angry in quotes because regardless of their targets they werent really crusading against these things, they we simply full of rage.

*I possibly have the county name wrong.

that is an anger that is quite widely felt

of course it is, but we've all been angry at our bosses or school bullies and I don't believe that makes Columbine or post office shootings "qualitatively different."

Feminism and womens rights are (rightfully) a hot button issue so this particular cae hit closer to home than most but Lepine was a deranged sociopath, so dragging him into any debate about feminism tends to have a kind of mini-Godwin effect.
posted by jonmc at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2005


99 percent of men agree, this was a horrible, insane act. 99 percent of women agree, this was simply a reflection of man's inate violent nature.

Or, at least, that's what I was taught in my (Canadian University) Sociology course.
posted by Elpoca at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2005


I don't think it's fair to lump jonmc with people like TheFeatheredMullet, even if you disagree that Lepine was simply a random psycho.

And what's being dismissed by TFM? The idea that the murder of women in an attempt to keep them in their place could be worthy of remembrance for reasons other than implying that all men are killers and rapists.
posted by transona5 at 9:56 AM on December 6, 2005


Or, at least, that's what I was taught in my (Canadian University) Sociology course.

That 1% of men are monsters and that 99% of women are not critical thinkers?
posted by solid-one-love at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2005


Glad Lepine wasn't growing any pot at home.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:58 AM on December 6, 2005


I'm just going to pipe-up with a nod towards jonmc's position. I too fail to see how this is qualitatively different from any other occurence of mass murder by any number of deranged sociopaths.

Just because it was an attack on feminism does not elevate (or denigrate) this mass murder beyond any other.

That being said...

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posted by C.Batt at 9:59 AM on December 6, 2005


Just because it was an attack on feminism does not elevate (or denigrate) this mass murder beyond any other.

You could say something similar about Matthew Shepard or Emmitt Till or Columbine. But sometimes an event like this becomes emblematic of a greater social issue. Exploring it doesn't mean that the victims' deaths are worth more than the deaths caused by a random killer that everyone forgets about.
posted by transona5 at 10:04 AM on December 6, 2005


You could say something similar about Matthew Shepard or Emmitt Till or Columbine.

One of these things is not like the other.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2005


I was a Canadian engineering student when this happen. I remember how horrified my classmates were, especially the few females. I remember the petitions that went around for increased scrutiny for firearms licensing. I remember that a few womyn (that's what they called themselves) made themselves look silly by saying that this was just an example of the male psyche.

Mostly I remember how terribly sad it was though.
posted by substrate at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2005



this act was, indeed, qualitatively different than almost any other mass murder you could point.


If homicidal anti-feminist rage is so prevalant, and this act was specifically a result of it, why haven't more mass-woman killings occured? Because: it wasn't a result of anti-feminist rage but a result of his being insane, like thousands of others.

The significant part of his story, by far, is the actual killing, the point gun and make people die part, his loopy justification notwithstanding.

Again though, what is being dismissed? The belief that Lepine represents anything or anyone other than himself or perhaps homicidal maniacs everywhere?
posted by scheptech at 10:10 AM on December 6, 2005


.

(Solid-one-love. I too would like to grasp Elpoca's point.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2005


Elpocas point, if I may, is that 99% believe there are no Canadian men patrolling the streets with guns looking to keep women in their place by shooting a few at random now and then.
posted by scheptech at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2005


I don't think it's fair to lump jonmc with people like TheFeatheredMullet, even if you disagree that Lepine was simply a random psycho.

I don't think it is either, but given the proximity of his comment, it could easily be taken as a defence of TheFeatheredMullet's comment.

Because I'm used to reading jonmc's comments, and I know that his position tends to be more nuanced than that, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but I could see how someone could just as easily jump the other way.

I wonder: could this hairstyle be described as a Feathered Mullet?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2005


I think that my point is being misread (or misinterpreted). My attempt was to point out that we should not go down the road of male bashing with this story.
I agree that this issue is about a deranged psychopath. His selection of target is irrelevant. However, this incident is often used to point out flaws that some uninformed people attribute to all men. Instead it should point out flaws of psychopaths.
As for the comment about me being dismissive about the deaths of the women involved, I do not see how you could support that given the text of my original comment. Perhaps you are projecting what you believe my intentions to be, but I can assure you that is not the case.
Also, this was not intended to be a troll type comment, but rather one that would make you think about why your initial reaction *might* have been to drag this into a 'This is a problem with men...' type of argument.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 10:24 AM on December 6, 2005


If homicidal anti-feminist rage is so prevalant, and this act was specifically a result of it, why haven't more mass-woman killings occured?

Mass-woman killings are pretty rare. Mass killings with any kind of specific justification are rare. The Montreal Massacre is so well-known precisely because it's an extreme act. Domestic violence murders of women, though, are quite common. Lepine is an extreme example not of "most men", but perhaps of that small-but-significant minority of men who murder or assault their wives or girlfriends because their independence.

Elpocas point, if I may, is that 99% believe there are no Canadian men patrolling the streets with guns looking to keep women in their place by shooting a few at random now and then.

But 99 percent of women believe there are such patrols because they're just that irrational?
posted by transona5 at 10:29 AM on December 6, 2005


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posted by atlatl at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2005


I shoot at the gun range all the time. I think it goes back to when a paper target killed my dad.
posted by basilwhite at 10:36 AM on December 6, 2005


Or we could take a nuanced view and note that women, at least in the United States, have to utilize a level of caution in public that men do not. Most women I know are very conscious of where they are and who's around them at night in the city or on a college campus. Most men I know don't have this level of not-exactly-fear-but-justifiable-caution. Now there's no organized campaign to use rape and violence to terrorize women into submission, but incidents like this one and sexual assault ranging from violent rape to simple street harassment to the math-is-hard Barbie just might have the effect of making women feel just a little put upon.

This problem can't put dismissed as paranoia or man-hating or whatever. It's a reality.

That said, .
posted by stet at 10:42 AM on December 6, 2005


In my undergrad days - just a couple of years after this tragedy, just a few hundred clicks down the highway - Dec. 6 was treated as a campuswide day of mourning, reflection, and consciousness-raising. As such, I spent four solid years observing and participating in debates like this one.

So then: while I agreed then and still think now that jonmc's point that Lepine was a lone psychopath whose actions reflect a degree of illness several degrees of magnitude beyond acute misogyny is a valid one, listening to the reactions of women for those four years taught me one thing with absolute clarity, and that is that I can't possibly understand the psychic level on which an action like Lepine's resonates for the vast majority of women.

And so if most women I've encountered say the Montreal Massacre was a chilling reminder of the semi-institutionalized commonplace of male violence against women, then I'm inclined to conclude that Lepine's rampage was the action of a lone lunatic that became a symbol of something much more pervasive, if generally far less brutal, and that it's not really my place to set the parameters for its meaning.

On preview: FeatheredMullet wrote His selection of target is irrelevant.

No, it isn't. And saying it is betrays a profound ignorance of how social norms shape inchoate rage.

Also:

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posted by gompa at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2005 [10 favorites]


Elpoca's point, if I may, is that either he is lying or his Sociology prof was lying, because those statistics are utter bullshit.
posted by rocket88 at 10:47 AM on December 6, 2005


Thanks, gompa. That's the most articulate explanation I can imagine.
posted by transona5 at 10:48 AM on December 6, 2005


I was also a Canadian Engineering Student when this happened. I was in my first year at UBC. I had received my red engineering jacket the week before it happened. Wearing it during the last month of that semester was a trial by fire if there ever was one. There was a constant stream of dirty looks and snide comments from women who assumed that because I was (a) Male, and (b) an Engineer, that I must share the opinions of Lepine. And it wasn't confined to campus either... The dirty looks came on the bus, in the grocery store, on the street, wherever. And you couldn't get mad at anyone who made any stupid comments, either... Or they would just think "see, another angry male engineering student."

One of my best friends that first year was a fellow female engineering student, I can remember her telling me that she received comments on both extremes ("get out while you can," "good to see (the shooting) hasn't made you want to quit," "don't give up," etc.).
posted by Snowflake at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2005


Well done, gompa.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:55 AM on December 6, 2005


I'm with Jonmc here, and here's why. The actions of Lepine were shocking, repugnant and tragic (I was working about 5 minutes' drive away from the Ecole Polytechnique when it happened.) However, to imply that, as a man, I am in some way responsible, even responsible for one tiny little bit of what Lepine did is offensive, small minded, and insulting. There's a memorial here in Vancouver to the 14 women killed, and the plaque (installed amid great controversy) says something like "Dedicated to all the women killed by men" (emphasis mine). Which I read as killed by men in general, not by certain individual men. Fine, if all men are murderers of women, to a greater or lesser degree but let's not argue about the details, then all women are whores. We should put up a monument.

Now:

Here's me---> •

go down about 100 lines

Here's a guy who beats his wife---> •

go down about 100 more lines

Heres a guy who kills his wife ----> •

Go down another 10,000 lines

Here's Marc Lepine -----> •

Don't use the latter example to illustrate, characterize or condemn any casual or inadvertent displays of misogyny, as you define it, that I may sometimes display.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:55 AM on December 6, 2005


(I should have previewed) As Gompa pointed out, the issue was raised every December 6th while I was on campus, too. Prompting a renewed anger towards any male on campus for a few days, but especially targeted towards those males wearing engineering jackets.

(on preview) Turtles, that's pretty much the way I felt at the time, and still do.
posted by Snowflake at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2005


Domestic violence murders of women, though, are quite common.

I'd suggest picking the Lepine case to be 'emblematic' of this serious social issue is less helpful than helpful. If anything it obscures the real issues, takes what should be serious discussion into the realm of, let's say, the unusual.

But 99 percent of women believe there are such patrols because they're just that irrational?

Irrational? I think Lepine was irrational. In any case, I read the comment to mean the survey indicates no one in Canada, male or female, believes there are men patrolling the streets with weapons looking to keep women in their place by killing a few at random now and then.

semi-institutionalized commonplace of male violence against women


It's real, it's a serious and very ugly problem, but semi-institutionalised? How, what organization or institution supports this? On the contrary aren't there institutions that fight against it, such as I dunno, the justice system?
posted by scheptech at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2005


His selection of target is irrelevant.

It is not. His selection of target is irrelevant to the question of whether or not his crime is reprehensible, yes. I'd be no less appalled if he had killed only the men. But I find the case more interesting because of the misogynist motive.

I think there are valid arguments on both sides of the "hate crimes" debate. I don't think a convicted criminal should be punished more severely for killing a person of a traditionally disadvantaged population. But historically, those populations have been more at risk for violence, and less likely to be protected by law. That's relevant. Murders of women, gays, minority races, etc. kill for different reasons. I think such people should be given the chance to examine their motives during their incarceration, and I think such crimes deserve our attention because they are representative of larger problems.

So, while I don't think this particular person's choice of victim is irrelevant, I also don't think for a moment that men are just innately violent. Sorry to mess up your little dichotomy there.
posted by Fenriss at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2005


Snowflake: Although to be fair I'm sure you realize that being a UBC Engineer your predecessors had made you a teensy bit of a target based on their 'illustrious past'.

/UBC alumnus from the glory days of the Godiva Ride and the Red Rag
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:03 AM on December 6, 2005


Where does Valeri Solanis fit into all this?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:04 AM on December 6, 2005


I do agree with Fenriss, et al, that the choice of target is not irrelevant but my justification for that agreement is a little convoluted. I believe that catacylsmically violent acts (with no hope of escape) like Lepine's are driven by inchoate rage more than anything else, he did need something to latch his rage onto if only to rationalize it to himself. The fact that he was able to find such an easy target in "feminism," is an illustration of how much misogyny there is in society, still.
posted by jonmc at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2005


Now:

Here's me---> •

go down about 100 lines

Here's a guy who beats his wife---> •
...


I would hope that you, and the vast, vast majority of men, would put yourselves not just 100 lines above the guy who beats his wife, but on a totally different page.
posted by transona5 at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2005


Valerie Solanis, that is.

Er, I mean, Valerie Solanis.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2005


I would hope that you, and the vast, vast majority of men, would put yourselves not just 100 lines above the guy who beats his wife, but on a totally different page.

While I condemn domestic violence inequivocally, it's dangerous for all of us to pretend that wife-beaters/child-beaters/stick-up men/pick your demon are that different from "us." We all have the potential for violence within us, and we realize that (while making absolutely no excuses for the actions of such people) we can avoid some of the emotionalism of such debates and think about the subjects at hand rationally, which is necessary.
posted by jonmc at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2005 [2 favorites]


Elpoca's point, if I may, is that either he is lying or his Sociology prof was lying, because those statistics are utter bullshit.
posted by rocket88 at 10:47 AM PST on December 6 [!]


Thank you, rocket88. Agree.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2005


I would hope that you, and the vast, vast majority of men, would put yourselves not just 100 lines above the guy who beats his wife, but on a totally different page.

Well, yeah--at the lines/page measurement used in this example I'm actually 4 and 3/4 pages above the wife beater. (Approximately).
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2005


It's real, it's a serious and very ugly problem, but semi-institutionalised? How, what organization or institution supports this?

The military. Any number of organized sports. The corporate cultures of a great many businesses. The most senior levels of many governments. The hazing rituals of many fraternities. Many engineering schools. The mass media (advertising in particular). Etc.

On preview, I'm pretty sure Valerie Solanis is the Godwin of misogyny debates. Thanks for playing, stinkycheese.
posted by gompa at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2005 [2 favorites]


jonmc, what's going on: have you been kidnapped by Alan Alda?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2005


Actually, Max Klinger's got hold of me, and he's a sick fuck. Call the police.

Nah. If you'll permit me a burst of hubris, I like to show by example that one need not be some kind of new-age sensitive guy milquetoast to be pro-feminist.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2005


I find it interesting that this whole Lepine thing always turns into an argument about whether or not men are evil, etc.

No one ever seems to take the tack that he was a Muslim. Lepine was a name adopted to help him fit in to Quebec. If this happened again, today, at MIT or some second-tier engineering school in the USA, no one would complain about feminism for a second (ok, there was the crazy suicide note) but the Muslim thing... ho boy. For the record, I don't think the incident had much to do with his religous background - he was a angry, disaffected young man who took his unjust anger out on complete strangers. Other details are incidental.

Regardless of whether it further tarnished the reputation undergraduate engineering students or which men are or aren't capable of violence against women, 14 smart, young people died that day for no reason. My sympathies to those they left behind.

I was a first-year engineering student when the shootings took place and it amazes me that these women have not been forgotten after all this time. Not that we shouldn't remember, but I suppose I just don't expect much from people.
posted by GuyZero at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2005


Is Lepine a psychopath? Clinically? Or was he near the end of a continuum of sane but irrational and inhumane actions? To write him off as a madman downplays the social context from which he came and in which he operated: would he have thought of "killing feminists" was there not a vocal reactionary backlash against efforts to make a just society? In this respect Lepine was given aid and comfort by a segment of the larger society that was certainly not insane, just misogynistic. I am sure none of us here fall into that category.

Lepine, in the letter found on his body, explicitly denied being crazy, and it was later found that he had a list of 19 "prominent feminists", including their phone numbers, that can only be construed as a "hit list." Had he not killed himself first in an act of mass murder, he may well have become, and had the intention of becoming, a serial killer preying on women.

And, it is a fact that almost all victims of serial killers are women.

Hence, I really think it is unfortunate to try too hard to make him into an inexplicable madman whose actions just happen to have galvanized women. Yes, his actions struck fear and provoked response in women across Canada and beyond, but Lepine knew exactly what he was doing and I cannot imagine, had he gone to trial, that he would have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
posted by Rumple at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2005


Ok, let me get this straight, your perception of things is such that:

"The military. Any number of organized sports. The corporate cultures of a great many businesses. The most senior levels of many governments. The hazing rituals of many fraternities. Many engineering schools. The mass media (advertising in particular). Etc."

are in favor of and actively support: domestic violence, wife-beating, and murder?

Not individual criminals that might be part of these institutions, but the institutions themselves?
posted by scheptech at 11:20 AM on December 6, 2005


I believe that catacylsmically violent acts (with no hope of escape) like Lepine's are driven by inchoate rage more than anything else … The fact that he was able to find such an easy target in "feminism," is an illustration of how much misogyny there is in society, still.

Nicely put. Far from disregarding the rage of men who ultimately pick women as a target for it, I'm very, very interested in it. Rather than saying "men are innately violent" let's try to figure out why so many of them are angry, to one degree or another, at women. I don't want to blame either sex, and I'm very disheartened to hear that the aftermath of the massacre further polarized the community with the whole "killed by men" business.

We are so damn busy taking sides in the Men vs. Feminists hostilities that we never make any headway toward solving the problems of deeply ingrained misogyny on one hand, and the growing feeling of alienation among men on the other hand. They are two sides of the same coin, and sometimes I feel like the only person on Earth who thinks about this.

Also, hi jonmc! Good to see you're still confounding the broad generalizations people like to make around here :)
posted by Fenriss at 11:23 AM on December 6, 2005


Rumple, I don't disagree that Lepine was not insane in the clinical sense, in that he was aware of the wrogness of his actions.

Lepine, in the letter found on his body, explicitly denied being crazy, and it was later found that he had a list of 19 "prominent feminists",

The Mansons had a hit list of celebrities like Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra who were next "to go." I guess that's my way of saying that I give as much creedence to the idea of Lepine as an Eric Rudolph-type figure as I do to the Manson Family being some kind of catacylsmic outcome of the 60's counterculture.

Like I said, I think most cataclysmic violent actions (including many seemingly political acts of terrorism) are driven by inchoate rage and resentment, the targets chosen either by happenstance or by a leader with an agenda.

Again, this is something on which reasonable people can differ.
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on December 6, 2005


Lepine, in the letter found on his body, explicitly denied being crazy,

also, (tangent here), since when do crazy people ever admit to being crazy. Isn't that the definition of crazy?
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on December 6, 2005


However, to imply that, as a man, I am in some way responsible, even responsible for one tiny little bit of what Lepine did is offensive, small minded, and insulting.

I don't see where anyone here has done that. And I really don't understand the "Why are the chicks so bent out of shape?" sentiment that seems to be rising from this thread. This man slaughtered women for being women. There is still a persistent resentment against women not "knowing their place" among some members of society. Just this week my dentist noticed on my chart that my husband and I had different last names, rolled his eyes and said disgustedly, "I guess you're a feminist."

I don't hate men. I don't think they're all out to get me. I don't think having a penis means you want to "kill kill kill!" But I do think that being female makes me a target of a specific type of resentment and rage. Please don't misconstrue that as a personal insult.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2005 [3 favorites]


Isn't that the definition of crazy?

Also the definition of Catch 22!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2005


But I do think that being female makes me a target of a specific type of resentment and rage.


Bingo! You've casually juxtaposed "resentment" and "range". Big difference.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:38 AM on December 6, 2005


Dammit! "Rage"
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:39 AM on December 6, 2005


Just this week my dentist noticed on my chart that my husband and I had different last names, rolled his eyes and said disgustedly, "I guess you're a feminist."

Ugh. I hope you fired your dentist! God, what do people mean when they say that? I just can't get over the massive gap between the meaning of "feminist" with which my parents raised me, and what many people seem to think it means today.
posted by Fenriss at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2005


scheptech, your first post asked: what organization or institution supports this? There are ways to support something - encouraging or reinforcing certain behaviours, sanctioning (or at least not condemning) certain kinds of abuse and objectification - that, while they stop short of an organization being "in favor of" or "actively" supporting violence against women, do form the current in which it swims.

The whole idea of something being "institutionalized" - or actually, to use my original phrase, "semi-institutionalized," by which I meant "tolerated and/or encouraged though not necessarily explicitly sanctioned" - is that the support need not be active to be effective.

e.g. Do fraternities explicitly endorse violence against women? Of course not. But when they ask men to recite their "conquests" in order to gain entry (or much worse, from what I've heard), they do encourage their members to think of women as objects of inherently less worth than men. Which helps to create a tolerant space for more brutal misogyny.
posted by gompa at 11:41 AM on December 6, 2005


"We are so damn busy taking sides in the Men vs. Feminists hostilities that we never make any headway toward solving the problems of deeply ingrained misogyny on one hand, and the growing feeling of alienation among men on the other hand. They are two sides of the same coin, and sometimes I feel like the only person on Earth who thinks about this."
Thanks Fenriss, you have said what I could not.
When men like myself, attempt to point out what we see as *possible* social trends that are leading to general man-hating (for lack of a better term) being seen as an acceptable position to take, we are so often shouted down as being evil ourselves.
Granted my original comment at the beginning of this thread was snarky; perhaps what has led me to the point of making it in a snarky tone needs to be looked at as well. Not just by myself, but by all who would engage in this debate. Anger is not created in a vacuum.
There are a number of well meaning people out there who would like to bring these issues forward. Fact is that for some men (who care enough to think and write about such things) there is a considerable amount of reactionary anger that stems from not being able to make a position that is contrary to the *acceptable* one without being labeled themselves.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 11:41 AM on December 6, 2005


How about this, Turtles:
I believe that negative feelings toward feminists can range from mild resentment to full-on rage.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:43 AM on December 6, 2005


Bingo! You've casually juxtaposed "resentment" and "range". Big difference.

You don't think resentment is a very close cousin to rage, and often leads to it?

I wish I knew for sure that you understand the difference between people implying that you are the proverbial "potential rapist" on account of your sex, and the people who argue that misogyny exists, and is worth examining.
posted by Fenriss at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2005


Thank you, gompa. Well said.

I remember the day this happened, too, and that I was dismayed by the various agendas that immediately kicked in during the debate which followed, and how difficult it was to make any kind of unemotional argument about violence and gender and fear.

Many women I knew were reacting with a kind of furious sense of justification, and some of the men were feeling personally attacked, were at pains to point out that Lepine was deranged, and were trying to delete gender from the issue completely. The answer's somewhere in the middle, I think now: fact is, the vast majority of violent crime is committed by men, and their victims are women and other men. How do we address this, and how does our violent (and violence-loving) society cope with it?

And, of course, .
posted by jokeefe at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


"If homicidal anti-feminist rage is so prevalant, and this act was specifically a result of it, why haven't more mass-woman killings occured?"

That's like asking why, if people supposedly like hamburgers so much, there aren't more people eating 12 at one time?

If the targets had been completely different like, say, white male engineering students and the killer said something completely different, like, say, "I hate computer geeks!", then some of the folks here in this thread would probably feel threatened. But, obviously, this guy was just killing randomly because he was a nutcase.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:50 AM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


scheptech -- until very recently (and currently, in some communities), domestic violence was a strictly private matter. Rape, assault and battery--not prosecuted if it took place within a marriage. I'd call that semi-institutionalized. As I said, it's changing for the better but it did, and does, happen.

jonmc -- I agree with your nuanced explanation as applied to men in general, but it's worth pointing out that mass and serial murderers who target women are almost always motivated, at least in part, by rage. The killer lashes out because he believes women have, or had, too much power over him. Isn't that pretty much the definition of anti-feminism? (The too-much-power part, not the murderous violence.)
posted by vetiver at 11:53 AM on December 6, 2005


If the targets had been completely different like, say, white male engineering students and the killer said something completely different, like, say, "I hate computer geeks!", then some of the folks here in this thread would probably feel threatened.

I can't speak for everybody, but think back to the Colin Ferguson case. As an extremely white guy who rides New York public transit, should I have been galvanized by this guy who explicity proclaimed his targets to be "white devils," and "uncle tom blacks?" Or should I have simply realized that he was a rageball sociopath who latched on to a real issue so he could fuck people up?
posted by jonmc at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2005


Isn't that pretty much the definition of anti-feminism?

Perhaps, but I don't know that their motives are political, or even that well understood, even by the perpetrators themselves.
posted by jonmc at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2005


people implying that you are the proverbial "potential rapist" on account of your sex

You know, I keep hearing this repeated in similar kinds of arguments; there's an insistence that "man-hating" has become common and acceptable, but I honestly have not heard anybody make such a claim in any seriousness since my days of political involvement back in the early 1980s-- and even then it was an extreme and radical position. Who in the public sphere holds this type of stance today, and why is there this idea that it's a claim supported by any rational person? Is it a hangover from the days of Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin? Because their time is long over, now.

I've been a feminist all my life, and I would never say anything so inane as "all men are potential rapists". Men are individuals, just as women are, and one of the main points of feminism-- at least as I've understood it-- is to set aside such huge categories as "men" and "women" where they are used to enforce bias and bigotry, either in law or in social custom.

Finally: I attended a reading by Ursula Le Guin a few years ago, where she asked "Why is it that whenever women try to discuss misogyny, we're accused of hating men?"
posted by jokeefe at 12:05 PM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


As jokeefe notes, much is lost if we try to divorce this from the gender issue.

TFM - your first comment did come off snarky, perhaps overly so because it was so neart he top of the thread, but I appreciate what you are trying to say.

jonmc: if the Manson's hadn't been caught, they might have worked on that list. If Lepine hadn't offed himself, ditto. Lots of killers notes do demonstrate that they are crazy -- they hear voices or whatever -- so far as I know, very few go to pains to emphasize they are being rational.

GuyZero -- his Muslim background is quite possibly underplayed - if we truly want to understand the act and its causes, then that may well be a factor. Or it may well not - but either way, it requires addressing that he was raised by a violent, unstable man of a religion that views women as having a particular (and restricted?) set of social roles.
posted by Rumple at 12:06 PM on December 6, 2005


Well, gompa, that's very interesting. Making reference to Hitler in arguments is seen as out of bounds because Hitler was an extreme case, right? Such a reference devalues the argument because it is appealing to knee-jerk emotionalism, blah blah blah.

But isn't that exactly the kind of thing that a lot of people here are saying about Lepine? It's just too extreme, it's too far away from anything we deal with on a daily basis. It's hundreds of pages away from what I am, as has been put here.

The disconnect between, say, making a 'female driver' joke and shooting 14 women is so huge in most/many (?) men's minds that this anniversary actually serves to just anger them really, as we see here. For many women perhaps, this day serves as a reminder of how far male violence can go, and provides an opportunity to speak out against it.

The flipside of that unfortunately - and I believe this is largely due to the extreme nature of the crime - is that for many men, it's getting Marc Lepine thrown in your face every December 6th with the sentiment that "this is what men do". It breeds a sort of shock and resentment much the same as white liberals may have felt when they first heard Malcolm X speak.

Why bring up Solanis? Because a discussion about patriarchy (and that seems to be what we're talking about here) focusing on a man who shot women because they were women, and What That Means, is kind of absurd from the get-go. It's like a discussion of race relations based around lynching.

I was serious in my question : how does Solanis fit into this? She apparently hated men, wrote a manifesto, shot one in cold blood as a statement. Is it only because Warhol lived that she became something of a hero, had a flattering movie made about her? What if Solanis had blown up a military barracks, or a sports centre? Would we see her the same way we see Lepine? If not, why not?

The obvious response is that she worked against the system, whereas Lepine worked for the system. That's a little weird IMO.

Aside: The point that's often missed in these debates is that systemic violence isn't a concern simply in cases where a given system is flourishing, but frequently pokes its head up when the system is changing, even disappearing. This is why we saw so many stalk and slash movies after the advent of feminism. I'm the first to admit this is perverse on its face, but it may in fact be a symptom of society's move away from misogyny overall that a man felt so angry or desperate as to do this.

Anyways, while we're slapping each other on the back gompa, thanks for being so smug, dismissive and patronising.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:07 PM on December 6, 2005


one of the main points of feminism-- at least as I've understood it-- is to set aside such huge categories as "men" and "women" where they are used to enforce bias and bigotry, either in law or in social custom.

Then how come women get offended when I act vulgar and obnoxious around them, since I'm the same way around men?

(I'm only half kidding. One part of equality is not being treated like a china doll who can't handle "coarse talk," right?)

/not accusing anyone here, just free-associating
posted by jonmc at 12:13 PM on December 6, 2005


Then how come women get offended when I act vulgar and obnoxious around them

It's the obnoxious. Try acting simply vulgar.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:19 PM on December 6, 2005


*belches*

OK.
posted by jonmc at 12:20 PM on December 6, 2005


Heh, so we've determined the only reasonable response to this memorial sort of post would be a dot and carry on?

You all do realize the 365 day calendar could be entirely occupied by the anniversaries of various death-related events?
posted by scheptech at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2005


Dat's cool jonmc. It's all that entangling of the personal and the political that feminisim insists on, but that make debates about it kind of fraught, because they often end up devolving into people's hurt feelings, i.e.:

Rather than saying "men are innately violent" let's try to figure out why so many of them are angry, to one degree or another, at women.

You know, I care about why Guy X or Guy Y is angry at women about as much as I care about why Recently Divorced Woman in my office thinks all men are bastards, which is to say, very little. I'd rather have a conversation about the institutionalized and ingrained social structures that keep women out of power in most of the world, so that the things I take for granted-- contraception, the ownership of property, living alone, freedom of movement, my own bank account, a job, an education, simple literacy, for crissakes-- are beyond the scope of many millions of women for no reason other than they are female, and rendered socially and legally powerless.

Perhaps that's part of why this event resonated with women. We're worried, deep down, that our equality is a tenuous and fragile thing. It's still very recent, you know?
posted by jokeefe at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


You know, I care about why Guy X or Guy Y is angry at women about as much as I care about why Recently Divorced Woman in my office thinks all men are bastards, which is to say, very little.

Well, misogny and misandry are (like every other social ill) rarely free-floating viruses, but something that accrues in people due to a lot of internal or external factors, so ultimately that unpleasant coversation may be neccessary, in a societal sense.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2005


Jon, you are channelling Alan Alda today. Heh.
posted by jokeefe at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2005


jokeefe: Many women I knew were reacting with a kind of furious sense of justification, and some of the men were feeling personally attacked, were at pains to point out that Lepine was deranged, and were trying to delete gender from the issue completely. The answer's somewhere in the middle.

This is my memory of the reaction in Canada as well. Let's remember that this occured in 1989, which was on or about the height of identity politics, at least in this neck of the woods. Somewhat relevant, at least. There's a lot of social change between Richard Speck and Marc Lepine, and it's reflected in how the crimes of each were covered in the press and processed by the public.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2005


Jon, you are channelling Alan Alda today.

*makes martini, flirts with nurse, saves wounded soldier*
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on December 6, 2005


.
posted by trip and a half at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2005


You don't think resentment is a very close cousin to rage, and often leads to it?

Let me put it this way. I sometimes harbour a little bit of resentment that, in the normal course of things, women consider themselves to be victimized by men. Is there a glass ceiling, or wage inequity based on gender, or do many women not want to make the career sacrifices the many men do? Valid questions worth debating, and I don't know the answers. But look at most of the married relationships you know. Which spouse has to ask the other 'permission' to go out, or to spend money? Which spouse has the final say in almost every major decision the couple makes? If the wife likes one couch and the husband likes the other, guess which couch the couple's going to end up buying?

I was at my Aunt's the other weekend when all the members of their strata were doing yard work together. Someone asked her neighbour where her husband was. "Oh, he hasn't done his indoor chores so I didn't let him out of the house." Sounds benign, right? Now reverse it: "Oh, I'm not allowing my wife to leave the house until she finishes the vacuuming and changes the oil in my car!"

I know, not every relationship is like this, but I believe that there is an assumption on the part of women that they are powerless when in fact, in the normal course of affairs in most relationships, the opposite is more true. So let's say I'm a little resentful of that. Does it put me in a murderous rage? No. Not even close.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:47 PM on December 6, 2005


Perhaps that's part of why this event resonated with women. We're worried, deep down, that our equality is a tenuous and fragile thing. It's still very recent, you know?

I do know. Because I am a woman. I was raised a feminist as well. And I also believe that until we start to understand the basis for the hostility so many men (and women, I might add) feel against women and femaleness in general, we'll never get anywhere.

I understand your concerns very well, because there are mine, too. I just want to try to change the discourse around these issues and start to try to take more people's positions into account. I am so weary of hearing "feminist" used as if it were a dirty word. For years, I just hated anyone who did so on sight, and didn't even wonder why they would come to such a ridiculous conclusion. But now I am struggling to find some common ground with people whose hearts are actually in the right place, but whose views about what feminism really is are tarnished by the media and the cultural backlash against all the progress we made in the 60s-80s.

I have plenty of feminist cred. I'm not worried about that. I am worried about humanity, and our terrible capacity for shouting each other down when we aren't even sure what we're arguing about.
posted by Fenriss at 12:50 PM on December 6, 2005


(...I too would like to grasp Elpoca's point.)

No point, just an anecdote. In a University Sociology course I was taught that this wasn't an isolated act done by deranged individual. Rather, the consensus view of Sociologists was that the desire to do this lies in all men, and is only precariously held in check by societal norms. This is a thesis that I, as a white male Canadian Engineer, found reprehensible.
posted by Elpoca at 12:51 PM on December 6, 2005


We're worried, deep down, that our equality is a tenuous and fragile thing. It's still very recent, you know?

same with us blacks. and we're both right to be worried, b/c it is a very recent, tenuous and fragile thing.

but i think that part of what contributes to that fragility, and what makes the relationships between our in-groups and out-groups so difficult to negotiate, is when "recently freed" groups go from thinking "we're better than the members of the out-group who oppress us because we're not going to let them crush our spirits or stop us from achieving great things" to "we're better than all members of the out-group and they're all trying to oppress us and stop us from achieving great things, either through direct actions or through indifference to and ignorance of the complexities of the issues facing us"

i think that latter attitude provides an answer to ursula leguin's (one of my absolute favorite authors) question "why is it that whenever women try to discuss misogyny, we're accused of hating men?" Answer: because such discussions frequently center on hatred of women by men; seldom if ever do they touch on hatred of women by women. a great many blacks in america do the same thing: when racial issues are discussed, they only want to speak about the things other "races" are doing to black people, not what black people are doing to each other, and if they do acknowledge that blacks are harming blacks, they still want to say the only reaosn blacks are harming blacks is becasue of out-group actions and influences.

but i also understand the danger in acknowledging in-group damage to in-group members: doing so gives one's opponents in the out-group an opening to say all of your troubles are caused by members of your own group. look at the way conservatives latch onto and promote any minority who critcizes her/his group.

which brings us back to the original point: this whole thing is tenuous and fragile.

wow, i'm starting to ramble. let me close by saying:

.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:55 PM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've been a feminist all my life, and I would never say anything so inane as "all men are potential rapists".

jokeefe, in my college Soc 101 class (a requirement), this is, word-for-word, what we're learning. The class is taught by an older gay man and TA'd by a twentysomething straight woman. The majority of my discussion group (about twenty females, five males, all between 17 and 20) agreed -- which is to say that all the women agreed, while the males sat all the way in the back of the room, hid their heads in their books, and refused to speak.

All of this has something to do with my reasons for no longer attending the class. I'm female, and hesitate to call myself a feminist: I believe that men and women should be equal, but I don't want to associate myself with the popular conception of feminism, as those certainly aren't the beliefs I hold.
posted by booksandlibretti at 12:57 PM on December 6, 2005


While I'm on the soapbox, let me offer this strange example of...something, I'm not sure what exactly but anyway. When John Bobbitt's penis was amputated by his wife, I encountered at least three groups of women who were laughing, giggling about it. They thought it was cute and funny. "He sure got what was coming to him!" or whatever. Again, reverse it: a man gets angry at his wife for cheating and cuts her breasts off. Nobody, not even men--especially not men--are going to laugh at that.

Woman catches her boyfriend cheating. Goes through his closet and cuts the crotches out of all his underwear and the ends off all his ties. You go girl! Man catches his girlfriend and cuts up all her panties and bras. What a sick cruel pathetic bastard. Who obviously hates women and if he's done that what's next?

There--you see? I've proven...something. So there.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2005


Booksetal.:

I'm curious as to what you consider the popular conception of feminism that you don't wish to be associated with nor share belief(s) with.

Seriously. This is not a gotcha. I just always wonder when women (a group to which I belong) are so put off by "feminism," especially since I would characterize your Soc prof and TA as well out of the mainstream of feminist thought as it is practiced by women on a daily basis (and not in an academic setting.)
posted by ltracey at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2005


My attempt was to point out that we should not go down the road of male bashing with this story. - TheFeatheredMullet

But you're assuming any of us would have had tried to take it that direction. You didn't give us a chance to have our own reactions and then question what's behind them. YOU are the one that framed the conversation on the very topics you said you didn't want it framed on.
posted by raedyn at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2005


booksandlibretti: I wonder if there is some misunderstanding going on. Are they teaching that there are some feminist theorists who say that men are all potential rapists? Or is the professor himself espousing this view as truth? And are your sure he isn't saying this is a highly theoretical manner? I mean, I suppose you could argue that any person with a penetrative organ could theoretically use it to force sexual intercourse, but I'd say that's very separate from saying that an actual rapist lurks in the heart of every man. If it's the later, then I certainly disagree, and I want to point out that this is NOT a popularly held feminist view.

It really pains me to hear you say that you hesitate to call yourself a feminist because of the beliefs you think feminists hold. Can I ask (with all respect, really) what beliefs those are? Because to this day, I still don't understand what people find so objectionable
posted by Fenriss at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2005


Turtles: You're drawing fire by pointing to extreme, obnoxious misandronist behavior. I heard lots of people giggling about the Bobbit case because people are immature and if you say the word "penis" people will giggle. I did not hear a single person seriously suggest that the man deserved to be mutilated. And if I had, I would have done my best to make them explain such an extreme statement.

Also, yes, people react more strongly about violence perpetrated against women, because women in general are less able to defend themselves against most attackers, and also because, historically, women have not been protected as much by law (see someone's earlier comment about how domestic violence is often seen as "personal matter.") However, I do not think that most people would say that they consider violence against men justifiable just because they are men.
posted by Fenriss at 1:17 PM on December 6, 2005


I've been a feminist all my life, and I would never say anything so inane as "all men are potential rapists".

jokeefe, in my college Soc 101 class (a requirement), this is, word-for-word, what we're learning.


As part of the actual curriculum? Not as part of the history of sociological thought, or something? I'm floored, I have to admit. I would recommend at the very least asking the prof to clarify this... and it's also possible to talk to the head of your department or, and perhaps this is a better idea, another prof who you feel comfortable with.

Booksandlibretti: I'm female, and hesitate to call myself a feminist: I believe that men and women should be equal

Then you are a feminist. That's what feminism means.
posted by jokeefe at 1:18 PM on December 6, 2005


jokeefe, in my college Soc 101 class (a requirement), this is, word-for-word, what we're learning.

I'm disappointed to see my experience wasn't an exception.
posted by Elpoca at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2005


I'm not sure where & when booksandlibretti went to school, but this sounds all too familiar to me (Ontario universities in the early to mid 90s), right down to the prof and the TAs in fact.

I'll never forget a third-year film theory class I took in which Linda Fiorentino's character in "The Last Seduction" was celebrated by many of the female students there as being some kind of uber-woman or model feminist...the closest comparison I can think of would be those guys who dress like Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" at Halloween.

It was a strange moment. I just thought, what planet am I on? What did I miss? This is anecdotal, yes, but I'm just chiming in to say that yes, higher learning really does foster some questionable ideas as regards sexual politics, as per B&L's experience.

FWIW I consider myself a feminist and my daughter is being brought up as one too. To me, feminism is essentially quite simple: women should have the same rights as men.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:22 PM on December 6, 2005


I'm not sure where & when booksandlibretti went to school, but this sounds all too familiar to me

Hmmm... I'm starting to detect a trend....
posted by Elpoca at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2005


But look at most of the married relationships you know. Which spouse has to ask the other 'permission' to go out, or to spend money? Which spouse has the final say in almost every major decision the couple makes?

What in the world are you talking about? If one spouse won't let the other come and go as s/he pleases, there is very likely some serious abuse or at least manipulation going on. If those decisions aren't being made as a unit, there is a grave lack of communication, and if it doesn't improve, it'll probably end in divorce. You are describing how bad marriages work here. You are not proving to me that women yield the most power in society.

I'm married. I know dozens of married couples. I see none of what you're talking about. I have no evidence that this exists outside of the trashiest sit coms. If it does, it most certainly needs to be addressed. And you have every right to be resentful of your wife, if she treats you this way (although a good relationship counselor might be a tad more constructive) but why on Earth would it make you resentful toward women in general? You can't differentiate between the stereotypical and (as far as I know) nearly extinct "shrewish wife" and the entire female sex?
posted by Fenriss at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


You can't differentiate between the stereotypical and (as far as I know) nearly extinct "shrewish wife" and the entire female sex?

Can those most enthusiastic about the wonderfully instructive example of Marc Lepine distinguish between him and the entire male sex?
posted by scheptech at 1:35 PM on December 6, 2005


Fenriss: I agree with what you say, as you can see by the tentative and guarded way I framed the statement. And the consequences of male to female violence are bound to be much more serious: men are inherently stronger. I was about to say more physically agressive too, but I'm not sure I could make that claim based on a survey of everyone I know. I don't know anyone who has physically assaulted their wife or girlfriend despite doubtlessly being provoked (in the sense that every couple gets into some wicked screaming arguments).

Now let's think about that: in these arguments both male and female may have been extremely provoked. If she hits him chances are he's not going to get hurt, chances are even less that he's going to report it, and chances are even slimmer that she's going to punished for it by the legal system.

If, in the same situation, he hits her, she's probably going to get hurt, he's may be reported (he should be) and if so he will probably, nowadays anyway, receive some kind of legal sanction.

Again, I don't know what I'm specifically trying to prove--I think I'm in my own way trying to explore this question of if it's men who do all the hitting why aren't most men somehow resonsible? (Danger Turtles: Alan Alda and Phil Donahue approaching! And do not give jonmc a hug!). I can picture clearly the beer-swilling lout that hauls off and beats his wife and his children. Women have more subtle but equally effective ways of inflicting damage psychologically and emotionally.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:36 PM on December 6, 2005


Exactly, scheptech.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2005


yes, higher learning really does foster some questionable ideas as regards sexual politics, - stinkycheese

Which is part of what holds me back from taking some women's studies and/or sociology classes that look at these topics. I'm interested in examining thes issues and exploring all sorts of related ideas, but I don't want the conclusions drawn for me.
posted by raedyn at 1:38 PM on December 6, 2005


ltracey and Fenriss, these beliefs what I don't want to associate myself with: "all [straight] men are potential rapists," "all heterosexual sex is rape" -- even the lite versions of these statements are not okay with me. jokeefe, I realize that I am a feminist; as I said, I just hesitate to call myself one because of the Dworkin-type connotations.

I am going to school now. In fact, I have this class's final in a couple of weeks (and it's not going to go well unless it's completely objective grading). I attend NYU, and this is a Soc 101 class with a couple hundred students in it.

And yeah, this is what this guy believes. He routinely uses the class as a captive audience for his "all [straight] men are potential rapists" rants, as well as tangents relating to affirmative action (strongly for), religion (strongly against), and his strong partisan feelings about current labor issues on our campus (strongly anti-administration).

I have recordings of all his lectures, actually, but I'm not going to take them anywhere because I don't think I'd find sympathy anywhere. This is college, and it's New York City; both environments are well-known for having strongly liberal points of view. Combine the two, and I really don't think anyone's interested in what I have to say. The professor has tenure, and even if he didn't and the head of the department was upset about his remarks, it wouldn't make a difference: all the TAs and students of the class that I've spoken to buy into his beliefs 100%.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2005


tales like that, booksandlibretti, make me glad I never finished school and spent that time elsewhere.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2005


No matter what "most men" or "most women" do, each individual is responsible for their own choices.

We can all contribute to creating an environment that encourages positive choices, but ulitmately, you are responsible for your actions.
posted by raedyn at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2005


What in the world are you talking about? "Shrewish wife" etc.

I knew I was going to get this response. I am speaking on the basis of my observation of marriages, good, bad, and okay, between people of widely differing social classes. Something a little more subtle than the wife being "shrewish". Something that perhaps many women don't even notice in their own or their friends' marriages because they consider this arrangement to be the natural course of things. If you can look at the specific examples I provided and honestly say that you've never seen an analogous situation, well, fine, that's your experience. It's not mine.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2005


raedyn: Check out the reading list if that’s available. Or see if you can speak to the prof about the course. Or find a syllabus, if offered. Or just visit the school’s library & read their books for free!
posted by stinkycheese at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2005


jonmc, I respect your decision, but for what it's worth, my professors and TAs who have been amazing are far greater in number than the bad ones I've had. Not all of 'em -- not even all NYU professors -- are willing to use their lecterns as soapboxes.

Also, if you're offering to be raped, you might want to put some restrictions on rapists you'd find acceptable.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:00 PM on December 6, 2005


these beliefs what I don't want to associate myself with: "all [straight] men are potential rapists," "all heterosexual sex is rape" -- even the lite versions of these statements are not okay with me. jokeefe, I realize that I am a feminist; as I said, I just hesitate to call myself one because of the Dworkin-type connotations.

Well, I'll say this one more time: the heyday of those ideas was twenty years ago... And I'm really disconcerted to find that they are being taught -- as opposed to being explored as artifacts-- in any class in 2005, just as I would have been even when those ideas were part of current theory. Education should not be indoctrination.

I worked for a few years in the Sociology/Anthropology department of a major Canadian university, and an instructor who carried on in that way wouldn't have lasted very long, I have to say.
posted by jokeefe at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2005


Scheptech: Can those most enthusiastic about the wonderfully instructive example of Marc Lepine distinguish between him and the entire male sex?

Are you referring to a specific poster(s) upthread? Perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall anybody here saying anything like that. (Reporting about people with such extreme positions, yes.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:14 PM on December 6, 2005


For the victims, of course let me start with a .

That being said: Poor engineering students. It's a sad enough that there are nearly no girls in the classes, but to have one of their number go apeshit and make girls even less likely to go near them is some kind of cruel cosmic joke.

Also, this immediately brings to mind The Screwfly Solution.
posted by mullingitover at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2005


"I'm not sure where & when booksandlibretti went to school, but this sounds all too familiar to me (Ontario universities in the early to mid 90s), right down to the prof 1and the TAs in fact."

My ex-wife is from Toronto; we were there for Christmas of 1990 and we went out one night with some friends of hers—one at UofT, the other at McGill (another of her friends was Jian Ghomeshi who was at York at the time1). Both of us (my ex-wife and I) were volunteering as "Hospital Advocates" at the Rape Crisis Center here in Albuquerque, which, interestingly and sadly, is one of the biggest and busiest in the US.

Both of these two friends—one female, one male—I shortly realized, were biting their tongues about my work at the RCC as we talked about it. (I did work with female survivors at the hospital; though we had a sort of protocol and it was handled very delicately to make sure the woman was comfortable having a man as an advocate—more than you'd think were quite okay with it, and the center's philosophy was that a positive experience with a male advocate can be a very helpful thing for female victims of male sexual violence later on.) Anyway, these two really couldn't get their heads around me, a man, being a rape crisis hospital advocate working with female survivors.

But they did finally speak up when we talked about the Take Back the Night we had marched in just before. This was only one year later, we were in Toronto. So, when they realized that I had marched in the take-back-the-night march, they were both outraged and incredulous. "Men were allowed to march??", they asked.

And it quickly became apparent that although they were surprised and offended, this was par for the course for what they expected of ingorant, asshole Americans.

"Not as part of the history of sociological thought, or something? I'm floored, I have to admit."

As a man, you just deal with it. Here's the thing: it feels totally unfair that "you", a SNAG sort of person, carries this stigma of being male. (I obviously don't mean "you" personally—you're female.) And in an out-of-context way, it is unfair. In context, though, it makes perfect sense and, as far as I'm concerned, it's "fair".

Look, I've written about this here before, but I'll state it concisely and plainly:

When you've done the rape crisis work I've done, which is horrifying enough on its own, and then you have 80% of the women you are close to in your life and strangers regularly disclose to you their experience of being the victim of male sexual violence, you realize that women live in a different world than you do and instead of whining about how unfair it is that women generalize about men, how you resent the attention they get as an oppressed group, you just shut the fuck up and deal with it.

This is why I don't like these supposed equations of "reverse sexism" to sexism and "reverse racism" to racism. Yeah, literally and out-of-context they're the same things and they're bad. In context, it's offensive to even begin to compare them.

1. She knows all the Moxy guys well, she dated Mike. I didn't like Jian—he was quite a bit like the two people I mention in this story. Mike is a really great guy, though.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2005 [4 favorites]


Again, I don't know what I'm specifically trying to prove--I think I'm in my own way trying to explore this question of if it's men who do all the hitting why aren't most men somehow resonsible? (Danger Turtles: Alan Alda and Phil Donahue approaching! And do not give jonmc a hug!). I can picture clearly the beer-swilling lout that hauls off and beats his wife and his children. Women have more subtle but equally effective ways of inflicting damage psychologically and emotionally.


Turtles, I can kind of get where you're going with this, and I can say that I have seen many women and men who have very fucked up ways of relating to each other. I have seen men who will hit a woman for the slightest thing, I have seen men who will never hit a woman for anything, I have seen men who are frustrated by the fact that if this woman who was taunting them and verbally abusing them was a man, it'd be okay to knock his ass out.

I've also seen women who take pleasure in pushing men to the point of wanting to hit them. I've seen women who have no idea that being hit is wrong. And I've seen women beat the shit out of the men in their lives both verbally and physically.

The main problem of domestic violence and abuse is a total lack of understanding in how to deal with problems. If your automatic response to rage is violence...it's very hard to have an invisible line in your brain that says "These types of people are not hittable, while these are."

Can women be abusive? Yes. Can men be abusive? Yes. The problem is that the more traditional culture in the US, the thing that feminism was fighting, is more likely to put men in a role of abuser and more likely to put women in the role of abused. Whether or not the woman encourages the abuse is secondary.

People like Lepine just remind us that we have a *long* damn way to go before gender inequality is a thing of the past.
posted by teleri025 at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2005


Poor engineering students. It's a sad enough that there are nearly no girls in the classes

It should be noted that the gender distribution of engineering students has changed since 1989, at least at my alma mater.

Chemical Engineering is now known as "fem eng" as the undergraduate classes are now more than 50% women. Civil and Mechanical are much better than they used to be, Electrical is still not so great and the Computer Engineering classes is still a bunch of smelly guys who can't get dates (a group among which I stood proudly, although I did manage to get dates, as did almost everyone, eventually).

While the Montreal Massacre was only one event among many, most Canadian engineering schools have worked hard since then to make an engineering education accessible and harassment-free for women.
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2005


Scheptech: Can those most enthusiastic about the wonderfully instructive example of Marc Lepine distinguish between him and the entire male sex?

Are you referring to a specific poster(s) upthread? Perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall anybody here saying anything like that.

Ah, I believe there were several references acknowledging the Lepine incident to be both highly instructive and meaningful in understanding men and their relationship with women:

this act was, indeed, qualitatively different than almost any other mass murder you could point.

most women I've encountered say the Montreal Massacre was a chilling reminder of the semi-institutionalized commonplace of male violence against women

sometimes an event like this becomes emblematic of a greater social issue

I find the case more interesting because of the misogynist motive.

was he near the end of a continuum of sane but irrational and inhumane actions? To write him off as a madman downplays the social context

And, it is a fact that almost all victims of serial killers are women.

There is still a persistent resentment against women not "knowing their place"



posted by scheptech at 2:53 PM on December 6, 2005


And it quickly became apparent that although they were surprised and offended, this was par for the course for what they expected of ingorant, asshole Americans.

You are mistaken. That reaction is dead common. In my small town the women's rights activist that is the loudest is the one who makes it impossible for men to feel welcome in that march. She makes it quite clear that our participatory support is not desired.

It is a trait of some women's rights activists, not all. You met it face-to-face. I get it through the media in our town.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:05 PM on December 6, 2005


Or we could take a nuanced view and note that women, at least in the United States, have to utilize a level of caution in public that men do not. Most women I know are very conscious of where they are and who's around them at night in the city or on a college campus. Most men I know don't have this level of not-exactly-fear-but-justifiable-caution.

This is very true - women do excercise more caution - but why? I'm totally talking from poor memory here, but I had heard somewhere that men were much more likely to be mugged or otherwise attacked by a stranger than women.

I have never been so much as whistled at, let alone groped or attacked, and I constantly wander around alone at night in questionable areas. Okay, maybe I'm just not attractive enough (I am female), or maybe it's that I do wander alone in dark areas looking pretty confident. And carrying a hefty bag.

Is there a glass ceiling, or wage inequity based on gender, or do many women not want to make the career sacrifices the many men do?

Some of all of that - it's a huge problem for women in my field. But it's not just a matter of women not wanting to "make the career sacrafices" - women do disproportonately take on family responsibilities. Frankly, I think men shouldn't be forced to choose between their families and their careers - it's unhealthy for men and women, and for their children too. But it's also true that in my field (academics) a married man is more likely to get tenure than an unmarried one, while a married woman is less likely to get tenure than an unmarried women. Considering that to even get to that place in their lives, these people have already put in several years of graduate school, I doubt it's simply that the women don't wish to work at their career - it's a very complicated issue (willingness to relocate husbands, necessity of time off for child-bearing, willingness of husbands to support wives through the difficult tenure track period), and I think it should be studied in more depth in all sorts of fields.

But for most poorer women, I would say the biggest career gaps are linked to systemic sexism. Manual jobs which are traditionally male (construction, forklift driving, some manufacturing) are better paid than many traditionally female jobs (service work, caring, etc). I know too many women who have spent years doing hard work for minimum wage, but had few other opprotunities. They did this work because they had to - they couldn't afford time to go to school or to better their skills because they had to feed themselves right then.

Now, would they be hired in traditionally male jobs? I don't know, I haven't applied for many. I did face a fair bit of sexism the one time I worked in a restaurant (I was cooking on the line, a male job, as opposed to being a waitress).

"Oh, he hasn't done his indoor chores so I didn't let him out of the house." Sounds benign, right? Now reverse it: "Oh, I'm not allowing my wife to leave the house until she finishes the vacuuming and changes the oil in my car!

Your aunt knows a very bossy woman. I imagine the greatest determinant on who is boss in a relationship is personality, not gender. We only talk about bossy women because it is a traditional trope of the "world turned upside down".

That said, working women still end up doing more of the housework than their husbands, on average, a significant bit more. A really good book on this phenonmenon is called The Second Shift - it's older now, but when last this was reported in the news, things had changed only a little since the 80s.
posted by jb at 3:42 PM on December 6, 2005


When John Bobbitt's penis was amputated by his wife, I encountered at least three groups of women who were laughing, giggling about it...

I thought that he had raped her. I thought it was a fitting punishment for rape - take the weapon away.

I know revenge is not a good source for justice, and I would never advocate castration (all sorts of problems with false convictions, no ability to reform, etc), but I still find I don't have much sympathy for him.
posted by jb at 3:47 PM on December 6, 2005


Scheptech, you wrote "Can those most enthusiastic about the wonderfully instructive example of Marc Lepine distinguish between him and the entire male sex?" which I understood to mean "People who think the Lepine case is wonderfully instructive think all men are potential raging psychopaths who want to mass-kill women." None of the quotes you cite claim that all men are potential raging psychopaths who want to mass-kill women. They do, however, see the Lepine case as a symptom of a broader social problem - which is entirely different from calling all men raging psychopaths.

most women I've encountered say the Montreal Massacre was a chilling reminder of the semi-institutionalized commonplace of male violence against women

this comes closest. But it doesn't mean the poster equates the entire male sex with mass-killer Lepine. It refers to "male violence" (a very broad category, encompassing hitting, ("date" and other) rape and/or murder of an individual, rape of a number of individuals, sexual abuse, with mass murder at an extreme) being commonplace. Taking that range into account, male violence is commonplace, though you may have a different definition of "commonplace" than the poster (it may hinge on your personal observations and what women you know have chosen or not chosen to mention around you). At any rate, "commonplace" does not equal "all men". I believe the poster addressed your "institutionalized" objection upthread.

it is a fact that almost all victims of serial killers are women.

doesn't say that all men are raging psychopaths. It says that of the raging psychopaths that are documented, most are men. (Like, "all terriers are dogs" doesn't mean "all dogs are terriers".)

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting you, or perhaps your comment was overstated in the heat of the moment. If I am misinterpreting your comment, could you rephrase?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:48 PM on December 6, 2005


Mullet,

My attempt was to point out that we should not go down the road of male bashing with this story.

The irony is that is exactly what you did when you shit all over the thread in the second comment!
posted by iamck at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2005


They do, however, see the Lepine case as a symptom of a broader social problem.

Obviously, however the difference in perspective is which social problem one primarily sees when looking at it: insanity and murder or mysogney?

I see mass pre-meditated murder and consider it to be the work of an insane person. His rationale for his crime fails to interest me. I give his opinions about women no weight. I have no interest in the man's thoughts on this or any other subject since I consider his mind to be defective beyond practical interest. His views on women alone hardly explain what happened. I expect there are other far more significant things going on in his life and mind, and who knows, maybe in the chemical makeup of his brain, that lead to this act.

Others primarily see mysogeny, this is what jumps out at them, and they extrapolate that into a discussion about male / female relationships, which is to ascribe what happened solely to those issues.
posted by scheptech at 5:07 PM on December 6, 2005


teleri025: I agree completely with what you say.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2005


Your aunt knows a very bossy woman. I imagine the greatest determinant on who is boss in a relationship is personality, not gender. We only talk about bossy women because it is a traditional trope of the "world turned upside down".

jb: Fair enough, the woman probably is bossy and I wouldn't put up with that kind of treatment in a relationship. But please, it seems that you then go on to say ("world turned upside down") that she is standing out because a bossy woman is unusual? I'm not saying all women are bossy, but come on, am I going to be attacked as a misogynist for suggesting that bossiness might be more a female than a male trait?

If you don't believe me I'd like to introduce you to my six year old daughter.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:29 PM on December 6, 2005


I thought that he had raped her. I thought it was a fitting punishment for rape - take the weapon away.

I know revenge is not a good source for justice, and I would never advocate castration (all sorts of problems with false convictions, no ability to reform, etc), but I still find I don't have much sympathy for him.


Sure, what's the big deal with cutting off his dinky? So I'll assume you agree with cutting off a hand as punishment for theft, and cutting off the head as punishment for murder, whether the perpetrator is male or female? (To be fair I'd assume you'd want these punishments to be meted out only after the individual was found guilty after a fair trial.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:34 PM on December 6, 2005


1. She knows all the Moxy guys well, she dated Mike. I didn't like Jian—he was quite a bit like the two people I mention in this story. Mike is a really great guy, though.

Ethereal: I'm sorry to hear that--Jian sounds like such a cool guy on the radio. :-(
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:35 PM on December 6, 2005


Obviously, however the difference in perspective is which social problem one primarily sees when looking at it: insanity and murder or mysogney?His views on women alone hardly explain what happened. I expect there are other far more significant things going on in his life and mind, and who knows, maybe in the chemical makeup of his brain, that lead to this act.Others primarily see mysogeny, this is what jumps out at them, and they extrapolate that into a discussion about male / female relationships, which is to ascribe what happened solely to those issues

Chemical imbalances and "things going on his life and mind" would be psychological, not social. So you're saying that 1. his psychological problems were the primary cause while social context, of women moving into what had been considered men's territory, had next to nothing to do with his murdering, and 2. posters who see that social context as a significant contributor (I don't think anyone here is arguing "sole") to his murdering are making a link that you think isn't there (but they have not confused Lepine with "the entire male sex"). Thanks for clarifying.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:44 PM on December 6, 2005


Ethereal Bligh, I love you.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:08 PM on December 6, 2005


In a platonic, non-creepy way.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:09 PM on December 6, 2005


Perhaps that's part of why this event resonated with women. We're worried, deep down, that our equality is a tenuous and fragile thing. It's still very recent, you know?
posted by jokeefe at 3:24 PM EST on December 6

I know that worry personally. I've often thought all it would take is a nuclear war, a pandemic--anything that destroyed civilization--and women would be back to second class citizens. These days however, I worry about fundamentalism more.

Look at Egypt. A country with a rich culture surrounding Belly Dancers (a very honorable and well-paid profession.) As the Muslim fundamentalists have taken over, Egyptian Women have begun voluntarily giving up their jobs and their Western-style clothes. The Belly Dancers no longer train new girls. Soon that profession will be extinct.

More and more The Handmaid's Tale is seeming very prophetic
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2005


We're worried, deep down, that our equality is a tenuous and fragile thing. It's still very recent, you know?

Well that is a very good thing to know. And before I proceed let me commend all in this thread for exploring this emotionally charged issue without getting into stupid pissing and slanging matches. Ideally, MeFi should be a place to explore ideas with other intelligent and, although impassioned, reasonable people from around the world. I think this thread has approached that ideal.

I have no way of putting myself in the place of a woman. I understand that wherever she lives a woman will always be at the mercy of men's physical strength and aggression. She'll be worried about walking around at night, just as I (6'3", 265 lbs) would be nervous walking around at night in the midst of 500 lb. aliens on another planet, where my biology directed me to entice them but I was never sure how much was too much and what would set them off. I've made my point as best I can in this thread about my interpretation of certain injustices I perceive. But when it all comes down to it, I had to walk my former wife's friends to the parking lot at the end of the evening, and I didn't think it was frivolous.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:41 PM on December 6, 2005


it seems that you then go on to say ("world turned upside down") that she is standing out because a bossy woman is unusual?

No, I didn't say that. I am an extremely bossy person, and female. So was my grandmother. But there is a literary and cultural trope of the "shrewish wife" mentioned above, which dates back to at least the 16th century (when it did represent the inversion of normal household authority). This trope still appears in our books, movies and television, though now probably because bossy women are seen as less threatening than bossy men (which bring up unpleasant associations with images of domestic abuse). Not all bossy men are abusive, but men physically abusing their wives is still more common than women physically abusing their husbands (the latter should be taken more seriously than it is).

It stands out because it fits into this pattern - just like crazy activity in a hospital on a full moon stands out (The full moon effect).

Sure, what's the big deal with cutting off his dinky? So I'll assume you agree with cutting off a hand as punishment for theft, and cutting off the head as punishment for murder, whether the perpetrator is male or female?

Again, you are putting words in my mouth. Please don't do that, it can be very frustrating, and hurts the progression of the discussion. I said explicity that I would not advocate castration as punishment (because revenge is not a good basis for justice, ever). I was talking about extenuating circumstances, and that my sympathy for him was greatly lessoned by those circumstances. Rape is also nothing like theft*- a better analogy would be if someone killed someone who had left them for dead, or if someone died in prison after having been a serial killer. How is your sympathy for Jeffrey Dahmer, who was murdered in prison?

*The suggestion that it is like theft is very disturbing - it is a violent and extremely humilating attack. Even the aforementioned patriarchial 16th century recognised this - rape was one of the few crimes (along with murder, arson and treason) for which a dealth penalty was not commutable; it was commutable for theft.


About Take Back the Night - one explanation I have heard for why some groups ask men not to march: since it is about women feeling comfortable out at night without bein accompanied by men, they want to march alone. But since they always march in large groups, that seems to not fulfil the purpose either. I've always found that an effective Take Back the Night strategy is to walk alone in dark places confidently.

But that said - does anyone know where to find statistics on the stranger attack rate for men and women? Because I had heard somewhere that Turtles, 6 foot frame notwithstanding, as a man may actually be more likely to be attacked by a stranger (in a mugging, barfight, etc) than a woman. But when I googled, I found pages about heart attacks. The seriousness of the attack may be different, but if it is true than it says something very interesting about perception of danger.
posted by jb at 2:34 AM on December 7, 2005


jb--sorry if I seemed to be putting words in your mouth. I was reacting with astonishment to your breezy statement (I'll quote directly here): "I thought that he had raped her. I thought it was a fitting punishment for rape - take the weapon away."

Are you just talking about your gut emotional reaction response to the incident? Would you agree that despite the heinousness of the alleged crime the wife should not have permanently disfigured and crippled the man in an extremely sensitive place, but should instead have gone to the authorities and let the criminal justice system decide on his punishment?

If you do not agree with this, then how different is it to the situation where a man is assaulting me and I subdue him then cut off both his hands to "remove the weapon"? Would we be giggling around the water cooler about this too while I went free?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:10 AM on December 7, 2005


"Dedicated to all the women killed by men" (emphasis mine). Which I read as killed by men in general, not by certain individual men.

I don't take it the way you did - I take it the way it was intended - dedicated to all women who have been killed by men. Why does that implicate you, as a man, if you haven't killed anyone?

If it was against all men, wouldn't it say, "killed by MAN" which does sound ludicrous.

Regardless, I wouldn't have worded a memorial that way at all, it's kind of silly. But I'm surprised anyone would take it personally.
posted by agregoli at 7:28 AM on December 7, 2005


But I'm surprised anyone would take it personally.

The history of poltics, war and society is basically the history people taking things personally. Wake up and smell the coffee, pollyanna.
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2005


"But that said - does anyone know where to find statistics on the stranger attack rate for men and women? Because I had heard somewhere that Turtles, 6 foot frame notwithstanding, as a man may actually be more likely to be attacked by a stranger (in a mugging, barfight, etc) than a woman. But when I googled, I found pages about heart attacks."

I think that's likely. From experience with rape crisis (and just looking at crime stats) stranger rape is not that common, relatively speaking, and aquaintance rape accounts for 80% or more of all rape.

This has always been a hot-button for me because I think that the enormous hype made about stranger rape (in a city, on a campus, possibly in a dark garage) is a displacement of fear from the real threat of aquaintance rape. This diverts attention and resources away from fighting aquaintence rape, which a number of people still don't think of as "real" rape. I understand why individual people do this—they do the same with regard to threats to their children—but I do blame media organizations and other institutions that encourage it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:32 AM on December 7, 2005


Are you just talking about your gut emotional reaction response to the incident?

Yes, that was my emotional gut reaction. Actually, if I remember more about the case, it wasn't even a case of a single rape, but continual abuse. There is also the point that he didn't lose his penis - I don't know how I would have reacted if he had. I don't know that I would have had much sympathy, though, still. But why do you keep comparing it to theft, or a simple physical attack? Why not to crimes of similar seriousnes? what if a parent killed someone for molesting their child? Would you feel sympathy for the child molester?

Or if a man were raped, and cut off the penis of the man who had raped him? I wouldn't feel any more sympathy for the rapist because the victim's gender were changed. It's not a good way to run a justice system, but rape is a very serious crime - it isn't theft or a simple physical assault , and shouldn't be minimised by comparison.
posted by jb at 6:12 PM on December 7, 2005


okay, jb.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:30 PM on December 7, 2005


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