The Montreal Massacre

On 6 December 1989, fifteen years ago today, Marc Lepine murdered 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. He killed them because they were women; Lepine told men to leave and shot at women as he screamed I hate feminists.

6 December is a day of remembrance for the women who were killed. They were:

  • Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21
  • Hélène Colgan, 23
  • Nathalie Croteau, 23
  • Barbara Daigneault, 22
  • Anne-Marie Edward, 21
  • Maud Haviernick, 29
  • Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31
  • Maryse Leclair, 23
  • Annie St.-Arneault, 23
  • Michèle Richard, 21
  • Maryse Laganière, 25
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
  • Sonia Pelletier, 28; and
  • Annie Turcotte, aged 21

The Montreal Massacre was horrifying and shocking. But we also have to remember that it’s less unusual than we all think. Yes, it’s a terrible freak event that some madman massacred women he had never even met because of his sociopathic hatred. But every day women are raped, beaten, and killed by men–and it’s usually not by strangers, but by men they know and thought they could trust. They are attacked just because they are women–because the men who assault them believe that they have the right to control women’s lives and their sexual choices, and to hurt them or force them if they don’t agree. By conservative estimates, one out of every four women is raped or beaten by an intimate partner sometime in her life. Take a moment to think about that. How much it is. What it means for the women who are attacked. What it means for all women who live in the shadow of that threat.

To be serious about creating a free and just society, we have to be serious about ending violence against women. As Andrea Dworkin puts it (speaking about sexual assault), I want to see this men’s movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality. It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and antisexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don’t make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public. It can’t be self-indulgent. And the same is true of every form of everyday gender terrorism–stalking, battery, rape, murder. How could we face Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Maryse Leclair, Annie St.-Arneault, Michèle Richard, Maryse Laganière, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, and Annie Turcotte, and tell them we did anything less?

Take some time to keep the 14 women who were killed in the Montreal massacre in your thoughts. If you have the money to give, make a contribution to your local battered women’s shelter. And, as Jennifer Barrigar writes:

Every year I make a point of explaining that I’m pointing the finger at a sexist patriarchal misogynist society rather than individual men. This year I choose not to do that. The time for assigning blame is so far in the past (if indeed there ever was such a time), and that conversation takes us nowhere. This is the time for action, for change. Remember Parliament’s 1991 enactment of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women — the glorious moment when every single womyn in the House stood together and claimed this Day of Remembrance. Remember what we can and do accomplish — all of us — when we work together. It is time to demand change, and to act on that demand. Let’s break the cycle of violence, and let’s do it now.

Remember. Mourn. Act.

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5 replies to The Montreal Massacre Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Sheelzebub

    Thank you for posting this.

  2. lisa

    It’s really 1 in 4 raped OR attempted rape; rape is 1 in 8. Great post, though.

  3. Rad Geek

    Thanks, Lisa, but I actually wasn’t citing the Koss survey. The 1 in 4 figure above is from the CDC National Violence Against Women Survey‘s finding for the number of women who have been physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner sometime in their life. The number does include both completed and attempted rape, since for gauging the level of intimate partner violence that’s a distinction without a difference. It also includes all other forms of assault. The NVAWS numbers are not directly comparable to Koss’s findings because (1) the survey population is all women rather than women on college campuses, (2) the NVAWS was conducted a decade later than Koss’s study, and (3) NVAWS uses a more conservative measure for rape than Koss’s survey does.

    Hope this helps.

— 2005 —

  1. Rachel

    Thank you for this…I was doing a search for Dec. 6th and came across your post. Kudos for writing it…

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Geekery Today:

    Remember. Mourn. Act.

    On 6 December 1989, sixteen years ago today, Marc Lepine murdered 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. He killed them because they were women; he…

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