December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This day marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, the day Marc Lepine entered l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989, walked into a mechanical engineering class with a rifle and told the male and female students to stand on opposite sides of the room. He then asked the male students to leave the room. 9 students remained out of 60. Marc told those 9 women that he was there to fight feminism. He proceeded to shoot all 9 women; 6 died. Levine proceeded through the hallways of the school, shooting more students. He killed 14 women in total that day and then killed himself.
These women were targeted because they were women. They were murdered because of Lepine’s hatred of women and of feminists. Lepine was not alone in his woman-hating, but these events made the truth about the deep misogyny of our world unavoidable. Judy Rebick writes, about her memory of the incident:
“We were not surprised. Each of us recognized that rage. Feminists had been talking about it for decades. Violence against women was epidemic but it wasn’t until December 6, 1989 that the veil covering misogyny was lifted through an act of such fury and hatred it could not be explained any other way. That terrible act of violence allowed many of us to remember or to admit to ourselves or speak to others about the violence we had suffered at the hands of men.”
On December 3rd, Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter will be holding a Free Public Education Forum on Ending Violence Against Women at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street). This will be an all day event, beginning at 11am – it will feature four panels which explore various issues around violence against women.
I spoke with Hilla Kerner, briefly, about this year’s event and the significance of this day, on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011. You can listen to that interview here: