Ending it. Stopping it. No more.

Feminists should remember that while we often don’t take ourselves very seriously, the men around us often do. I think that the way we can honor these women who were executed, for crimes that they may or may not have committed–which is to say, for political crimes–is to commit every crime for which they were executed, crimes against male supremacy, crimes against the right to rape, crimes against the male ownership of women, crimes against the male monopoly of public space and public discourse. We have to stop men from hurting women in everyday life, in ordinary life, in the home, in the bed, in the street, and in the engineering school. We have to take public power away from men whether they like it or not and no matter what they do. If we have to fight back with arms, then we have to fight back with arms. One way or another we have to disarm men. We have to be the women who stand between men and the women they want to hurt. We have to end the impunity of men, which is what they have, for hurting women in all the ways they systematically do hurt us.

–Andrea Dworkin (1990): Mass Murder in Montreal, Life and Death, 105-114.

Wear a white ribbon.

On 6 December 1989, seventeen years ago today, Marc Lepine murdered 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. He killed them because they were women; he went into an engineering class with a gun, ordered the men to leave, screamed I hate feminists, and then opened fire on the women. He kept shooting, always at women, as he moved through the building, killing 14 women and injuring 8 before he ended the terror by killing himself.

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

GT 2004-12-06: The Montreal Massacre:

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.

Today is a day to remember fourteen innocent women who died at the hands of a self-conscious gender terrorist. Like most days of remembrance, it should also be a day of action. I mean practical action.. And I mean radical action. I mean standing up and taking concrete steps toward the end to violence against women in all of its forms. Without excuses. Without exceptions. Without limits. And without apologies. Andrea Dworkin wrote 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, confinement, 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. Make a contribution to your local battered women’s shelter. 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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12 replies to Ending it. Stopping it. No more. Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Otto Kerner

    Well, you say, “I mean practical action. And I mean radical action. I mean standing up and taking concrete steps toward the end to violence against women in all of its forms.” What kind of action do you have in mind? What is to be done? What should I do?

  2. Anonymous

    I wondered that too. I was disappointed to see no response.

  3. Rad Geek

    Otto and Anonymous,

    I’m sorry I haven’t had more to say by way of a reply just yet. I’ll have more to say later, hopefully in a follow-up post.

    One thing that I suggested already in the post above is contributing money (and/or donations in kind, and/or volunteer labor) to local battered women’s shelters. This is something that’s both easy and obvious, but no less important for being both. Local battered women’s shelters are, more or less, the Underground Railroad of the past 30 years, and they both deserve and desperately need solidarity and economic support.

    I don’t talk about it much, but I actually contribute a fixed percentage of my income to local shelters in Michigan and Alabama each year. I also used to help put on fundraising and awareness events when I was in college. Something I hope to get back to soon in the near future, actually.

    Several years ago I wrote a series of articles that tried to give an outline overview of some of the practical steps that men concerned about violence against women should take. Looking back at it I think it’s kind of a mixed bag now, in style if not in substance, but it’s one place to start, and all three parts (1, 2, 3) have since been retconned into this website for your reading pleasure.

    But I think the best place for you to go is not anything I’ve written, but rather the existing feminist literature on violence against women and efforts to resist it. Robin Warshaw’s I Never Called It Rape is an older but very good book on understanding acquaintance rape and concrete efforts to end it. Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will is even older but also extremely important. Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse and John Stoltenberg’s essay “How Men Have (a) Sex” are both very important, perhaps (hopefully?) even life-changing. And besides taking the time to read up, the other thing to do is look for organizations that already exist in your community — the local shelter, local rape crisis center, local N.O.W. chapter, campus or community-based feminist groups, and other organizations that might already be putting on events, or might be interested in putting on events, around sexual assault, domestic violence, and other forms of violence against women. Once you’ve found them, attend meetings or get in touch with the folks in them, and find out what they’re working on and what they could use help with. (N.B.: you don’t have to agree with everything that they are doing for it to be worth seeking them out; you can lend your help specifically on the things that you agree with.)

    That’s for a start. There’s actually far more to do than any one man or woman could ever hope to do in his or her life, but that’s no reason not to get started on what you can do and on what is most important to you. Like I said, I hope I’ll have more to say about this in the near future.

    What do you think?

— 2007 —

  1. John T. Kennedy

    “I mean standing up and taking concrete steps toward the end to violence against women in all of its forms.”

    Why stop there? Why not end all evil while you’re at it?

  2. John T. Kennedy

    The Dworkin quote is pure collectivism. What individual women need to do is manage their own safety.

  3. Rad Geek

    Kennedy,

    Ending all evil would be a perfectly good thing to do, if you can manage it. Sometimes it helps to focus on specific types of evil that are both systematic and prevalent, such as violence against women.

    As for the Dworkin quote, do you think that encouraging anyone to participate in a co-operative project for the sake of the project’s goals amounts to pure collectivism? Or do you have a more specific complaint against what she advises?

  4. John T. Kennedy

    I simply look across the room at Lynette. She manages her life as an individual. She easily manages her own safety from violence with hardly a thought given to “violence against women”. Most important, she makes high quality choices about whom she associates with.

    There’s little more I could tell someone than: You could live this way, you should, there’s no substitute for it, and nobody can do it for you.

    Sure eliminating evil would be sweet, but my schedule is packed and I really don’t see how I can fit that in.

    Individuals will do far better by managing their individual exposure to evil than by collectively crusading against it.

  5. Sergio Méndez

    Mr Kennedy:

    So the quote of Mrs Dowkings is “collectivist” cause it calls women to fight united instead of individually against patriarchy and rape?

    Well, if then, so be it: it is collectivist, and for the good. I thought you used the term in a pejorative manner.

    What is insulting is your insinuation that women are guilty of the violence they suffer because the “choices they make”. I thought, it was the fault of perpetrators of the violence, usually men.

    P.D: I am amazed how much you are interested in women and worker causes, that you recommend them the best strategies for their own good. It is almost unbelievable, coming from somebody so individualist and selfish – not pejorative meaning intended- as you appear to be Mr Kennedy.

  6. Roderick T. Long

    By JTK’s logic it would seem that the libertarian movement is also a “collectivist” movement. Why participate in an ideological movement to fight state oppression? Why bother writing libertarian books, articles, or blog posts? Why not let dealing with state oppression be the responsibility of each individual victim thereof?

  7. Rad Geek

    Roderick,

    Right, but I don’t think that’s a conclusion that Kennedy would object to. Kennedy has used the same major premise to make the modus ponens where you make the modus tollens. Cf. The Revolution Will Be All Business, for example.

    His explanation of why he continues to write libertarian blog posts and the like is generally that, rather than trying to convince a lot of people that libertarianism is true, he is trying to convince a smaller group of people that they are misapplying their energies.

    Kennedy,

    I’m glad that Lynette is able to do well for herself. Unfortunately many women are not so fortunate. And the reasons why they are not do not necessarily (or even often) have very much to do with a lack of personal virtue, intelligence, or individual preparation.

    Individuals will do far better by managing their individual exposure to evil than by collectively crusading against it.

    I don’t see these as mutually exclusive strategies. I don’t even see them as antagonistic. Co-operative efforts to end a systematic evil often dovetail with individual efforts to reduce exposure to it. Particularly when the systematic evil is not something naturally given (like plagues or weather) but rather the result of many conscious human choices (viz. the choice of many men to use violence to control women), and particularly when many of the perpetrators and abettors of the systematic evil are not remote powers but rather ordinary folks who live in, or close to, your own home. Man-made as opposed to natural evils often depend on decisions that can be altered through persuasion, education, exposure, ridicule, social pressure, ostracism, physical defense, etc., all of which can sometimes be intensified through cooperative coordination. Local as opposed to far-away criminals often require more help and cooperation to avoid, because they know you and your friends better, have more information about what you’re doing, have more friends in town that they can call on to aid and abet their crimes, etc. Thus they are often harder to escape without substantial help from friends or sympathetic bystanders in protecting you and challenging or resisting the criminal.

    One example is the battered women’s refuge movement. Battered women’s shelters basically did not exist until Women’s Liberation activists in the U.K. and U.S. started building them in the mid-1970s. Women who wanted to protect themselves, their friends, and women they had never met from wife-beating worked together, co-operatively, to create spaces that enabled them, individually, to escape more easily. They would not have been able to do this very well each on her own, because they didn’t individually have the resources to build the space, procure the supplies and services to keep it running, manage fund-raising and outreach, keep locations secret and well-secured, etc. They were able to do it by co-operating together. So they did, and good for them. I don’t see anything collectivist, in any objectionable sense, about the project. Do you?

  8. Roderick T. Long

    Right, but I don’t think that’s a conclusion that Kennedy would object to. Kennedy has used the same major premise to make the modus ponens where you make the modus tollens.

    Ah well, in that case my response would be that previous implementations, admittedly imperfect but better than nothing, of libertarian values — e.g. the anti-Corn-Law and anti-slavery movements in England — were successful (and so not open to the charge of ineffectiveness) and increased individual liberty (so it’s hard to see how the charge of collectivism can stick). Ditto for the period of consciousness-raising that preceded the American Revolution.

  9. monique halpen

    Dear Everyone who Answered Previously,

    “Feminism” is something that I have lived with all my life!

    It’s great for men to speak in poetic prose about how they “defend” us, or how “we should defend and protect ourselves”. While we have to work twice as hard as any man to obtain the positions we difficultly acquire, even if we are more qualified, meanwhile we must endure being battered, put up with your demands, sexually, economically and subserviently, but who cares! Money is not just the answer!

    It’s way past the time that the respect we demand but recognized. RESPECT, GENTLEMEN!

    By the year 2010, 80% of the workforce is estimated to be women and minorities!

    These statistics are based on the quality and quantity of work that can be done by a woman!

    Thank for allowing me to make my comments!