As chigau pointed out, it’s been 29 years since the École polytechnique massacre in Montreal, yet the story is all too common almost 30 years later. A white man who thought the world owed him a certain place went out to kill women, because he thought they were taking what was rightfully his, denying him his due.
While the event shocked not only the Canadian public, the ideology that led to it is far from eradicated. From Elliot Rogers over the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High to Alek Minassian killing women in Toronto, the pattern of entitlement and violence continues. And these are only the cases that make headlines, the cases where the victims were more or less randomly chosen. It doesn#t even get into the thousands of cases where men kill their (ex) partners or just a woman they hardly knew for turning them down.
And whenever these cases happen, the discussion is the same: mental illness is blamed*, women themselves are blamed. It’s a well practised dance around the violent misogynist mass murderer in the room.
This is why on this day of all, I have no moment of silence, but loud anger. For all of our sisters who have died and who will still die at the hands of men who think they are owed the world, and at the words of those who always have more empathy for the murderer than his victim.
*Before somebody feels the need to mention that X, Y, and Z had a history of mental illness, spare yourselves the time, I’ve got none for that discussion. While mental illness may make it easier for those men to turn to more extreme actions, it didn’t instil a hateful ideology into them and no mental illness ever forged a gun.
I’m old enough to remember the feminist movement of the 1970’s. I watched for a time as the situation for women began to improve, but things seem worse now than they were 20 years ago. Digression is what I see now. In the United States it is increasingly difficult for women to obtain an abortion. The advent of men’s rights group has created echo chambers for hurt feelings that seem to ignite violence. A recent series done by the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail found that Canadian police departments had impossibly high unfounded rates for rape, triggering a nationwide reopening of dozens of cases, many of which have since gone forward. The murdered and missing rate for indigenous women in Canada is very high and there is a lot of political talk, but little political will to do anything about it. For Gods sake, the president of the United States is a sexual predator and it doesn’t seem to matter.
Thank you for this, Giliell. It’s very powerful and well written.
I often think that over the last 50 years, many women have changed a lot, and many men have changed very little. This inevitably leads to clashes, especially since many men do in fact lose things they used to have. It’s so sad to see how many of my male pupils still hold tight to 1950s gender roles while so few girls do. How are those of them who are heterosexual supposed to have happy relationships when they’re obviously thinking so differently about how their future should be?
Giliell your point about girls having changed views of their roles, while too many boys do not is well taken. We have changed what is possible for girls, and that has spread beyond the middle classes, but we have not addressed enough attention to helping enough boys understand what that means for them. There are those boys who do understand, but not enough as a percentage for there to be a real change in attitudes for too many populations. I feel frustrated that this is yet more work women will have to do, because too many men won’t.
Re your * I suffer a mental illness, but that has never led me to murder. I support all legislative attempts to reduce the availability of firearms. I am a pacifist, a humanist, a feminist. One of my regrets is that when I was a much younger man, I stood by and watched a woman sexually harassed in our workplace. I did not join in, but nor did I attempt to stop it. I will never be that man again.
Re your broader point, I fully agree with you, and often we need the fire in our bellies of anger to bring about the needed changes in our societies.
While women are being murdered on the streets and then being blamed for being out at night, we have a long way to go. When women are leaving mixed sport in droves because as soon as they arrive the “men” see them as fresh meat to hit on, not as teammates, we still have a long way to go.
And when we have two major parties vying for government and one has quotas and the other insists on “merit” we end up with one party having 44% of its elected members female, whilst the other could only find a bare 25% of women who were deemed meritorious enough for a place, then we still have a long way to go.
Everything that you said, Giliell. And what voyager added. It’s hard to teach boys that it’s okay to be more sensitive, to enjoy stereotypically girls’ activities, to let girls join them in sports and to give them equal time. It’s a mixed bag of results and between the three of my own, there’s a spectrum of opinions (it’s very interesting).
I only hope they will treat the girls and women around them with respect, and as people, not as well-performing girls or women.
And I hope a lot of the attitudes I see around me towards girls and women and physical activity and the sciences would just die in a fire. Especially those coming from my generation of parents. They’re not doing anyone any favours.