Martin Pribble reminds us of the Montreal Massacre. On December 6 1989, a guy called Marc Lépine went into a classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. Katherine Ramsland describes what he did there. [trigger warning]
In French, the young man asked the 10 female students to get up and move across the room. He then told the men to leave. No one moved. A few people laughed, as if this were some kind of joke. That was the worst thing they could have done. He had been humiliated enough in his 25 years. On this day, of all days, he was not going to be treated in that way.
Lifting his rifle, he shot twice into the ceiling. It was no joke.
“You’re all a of bunch of feminists!” the man shouted, his eyes now alight with anger. “And I hate feminists!”
This time, he ordered the women to get up from their seats and the men to leave. A few moved to obey, but others remained confused. They wondered whether they should try to overpower the gunman, protect the women, or leave. The choice as to what was best was unclear. But after a few moments, the male students and teachers walked outside. In weeks to come, many of them would have nightmares about this moment, reliving it over and over, wishing they had acted differently.
When the 10 women had moved into the specified corner, the gunman explained his reason for being there. According to survivors who spoke later to police or reporters, he told them that he was there on behalf of males. “I’m fighting feminism.” Women had been taking employment and opportunities away from men, he said, and feminists needed to be taught their place.
Nathalie Provost tried to tell him that they were not necessarily feminists, but this only enraged him. He lifted the rifle again and, as they screamed for mercy or tried to leap out of range, he methodically shot them from left to right. All were hit. Provost was shot three times.
Gendercide, Ramsland calls it.
Martin Pribble explains the aftermath.
The people of Canada were profoundly affected by this massacre, and as a direct result, a group of men initiated a campaign to urge men to speak out against violence to women, and to commemorate those hurt and killed by this awful event. On the second anniversary of the “Montreal Massacre” (as it came to be known), the first “White Ribbon Campaign” was held. The campaign sought to motivate men to stand up against, and speak up about, any forms of violence against women.
This year, the White Ribbon Campaign is now supported and represented by countries in every continent including Australia. The White Ribbon Campaign Australia is this year supported by an advertising campaign called “Hey Mate“, focusing on the attitude that many have about intervening when sexism and violence against women rears its ugly head. It is backed by a pledge that man can make, and publish, publicly proclaiming:
I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.
Over 50,000 men have made this oath, and knowing that they “have got your back” helps enforce the attitude that men too, are sick of violence against women. The “Hey Mate” campaign is made up of four advertisements, and highlights four scenarios; “At the pub”, “At home”, “At work” and “At the party”. It highlights the fact that it is not only okay to point out when someone else is acting inappropriately or violently towards women, but that it is okay to intervene because men are not alone. These kinds of campaigns can only work if they have support of the people. In this case, over 50,000 men have made the oath, but with 22m people in the country, this is but a small percentage of the potential supporters of this campaign.
Good on you, Martin.