Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Some of you may be familiar with the Montreal Massacre that occured more than two decades ago at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine shot and stabbed 28 students, killing 14 women specifically selected for attack based solely on their sex. Lepine specifically targeted women in what he claimed to be a fight against feminism. As such, the event has since been classified by many feminists groups as an anti-feminist attack that symbolizes violence again women.
I remember participating in a vigil for this massacre back in 2004 when I was attending the U of A. Names of the 14 slain women were written on heavy black wooden boards which were strapped onto the bodies of 14 volunteers who would wear it through the course of the day. At night, candles were lit (in 4 feet of snow), songs were sung, and heartfelt prayers were said aloud.
Numerous memorials have been assembled in memory of the slain women but the massacre has also spurred annual campaigns and commemorative demonstrations aimed to raise awareness of male violence and discrimination against women. Although the massacre was a deliberate attack against women, I personally find it problematic that little to no tribute or recognition has been given to the men who were injured in the process. During the vigil that I participated in, there was only mention of the slain and injured women but no mention at all of the men. I did not find out until much later that men were also victims, albeit not targeted victims, but victims nonetheless. To add insult to the injury, guilt was bestowed on the injured men who survived the attack for not protecting the women and doing anything to stop the killer. So why all this focus and sympathy for the women? Are not the male victims equally honorable human beings deserving of sympathy and respect, regardless of the motive behind the attack?
I find it quite puzzling as well to consider that the deaths of the women have been appropriated by the feminist movement to promote their agenda on discrimination against women. This movement has had a significant influence on the way this event is portrayed and viewed by the public and in the media. Since 1991 (just 2 years after the event) the anniversary of the massacre has shifted from specifically commemorating the event to being designated as the "National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women," which has sparked alot of controversy. However, this wouldn't be the first time the feminist movement has been criticized for using such events as the Montreal Massacre to justify their antagonism. The above photo is of a memorial in Vancouver titled "Marker of Change" which has been highly criticized for its dedication to "all women murdered by men" because it implies that all men are potential murders and that all men should accept guilt and responsibility for the violence against women.
What do you think of these kinds of memorials and monuments built upon feminist attitudes? Do you think the feminist movement is justified in appropriating events such as the Montreal Massacre to marginalize the issue of male violence and discrimination against women? Do you think it perpetuates the social stigma surrounding men as aggressive and violent beings?