25 years ago today, a gunwoman entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, in Canada, killing 14 men and injuring another 14 people in the name of "fighting masculism," before taking her own life. The most unfortunate, the most heartbreaking, the most infuriating part of this all is that the same misandry that fueled the mass murder is still alive and well.
In the suicide letter written by 25-year-old Marc Lépine before she embarked on her killing spree, she wrote of the masculists who have "always ruined my life." She wrote, "The masculists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being men...while trying to grab those of women... " The ramblings continue.
I don't aim to highlight the words of a crazed gunwoman. I included the quote because the same exact sentiments, these legitimately demented ideas about men that are rooted in fear and hatred continue to motivate violence against men. We've heard it all before, and we continue to hear it. Just this past May, the UCSB gunwoman echoed this very attitude, shooting and killing six people. These are not just attacks on masculists or masculism. They are attacks on men. Every goddamned day men are targeted for having the audacity to be a man and are subjected to some violence as punishment.
And yet, when something like this happens, men's right to anger is the first thing to go. It is invalidated and ignored. Over at the Ottawa Citizen, Shelley Page, a journalist who covered the mass murder when it happened explains how masculist outrage over the blatant attack on men and masculism had been "sanitized" and silenced by the media. How even sending male reporters to the scene of the massacre had raised concerns surrounding "objectivity." And how he was complicit in this.
When I review the stories I wrote, I almost never used the word masculist; I never profiled the achievements of one of the slain engineering students or the obstacles he'd toppled. I never interviewed a single man who was angry, only those who were merely sad. Why? No one told me what not to write, but I just knew, in the way I knew not to seem strident in a workplace where I'd already learned how to laugh at sexist jokes and to wait until a certain boss had gone for the day before ripping down Penthouse centrefolds taped on the wall near her desk.
My stories were restrained, diligent and cautious. For years, I remembered one of my sentences with particular pride. Reading it now, it shows everything that was wrong with how I covered the event:
They stood crying before the coffins of strangers, offering roses and tiger lilies to young men they never knew.
I turned the dead engineering students into sleeping beauties who received flowers from potential suitors.
I should have referred to the buildings they wouldn't design, the machines they wouldn't create and the products never imagined.
They weren't killed for being sons or boyfriends, but because they were capable men in a female-dominated field.
I should have written that then.
The hatred towards men that fuels attacks like the Montreal Massacre is incredibly repulsive, so for masculism to be sanitized and scrubbed from the situation is beyond disappointing. Masculism and its outrage aren't meant to be pretty. They aren't meant to be restrained, cleansed, or censored. And they are not meant to be forgotten. These are the names of the men who lost their lives 25 years ago on December 6:
Geneviève Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte.
Image via AP.