…that this happened:
A terrorist attack on women took place in Montréal. The terrorist specifically said that he was “fighting against feminism”, but for a long time, this aspect of his terror attack was downplayed in the media, and misunderstood by the general public as a result. Instead, the whole thing was portrayed as a mere “tragedy”, the work of a simple “madman”, devoid of political significance.
Fast-forward to today. What have we learned in the intervening years? More importantly, and more to the point: what have we NOT learned?
Well, for starters, the weapon Marc Lépine used to kill those 14 women has still not been banned in Canada, so we haven’t done all we could have on gun control. Never mind that women have spearheaded the effort to ban it and other potential terrorist weapons. You’d think that banning even just that particular one would have been a no-brainer, but…NOOOOO. There are conservative gun groups actively lobbying to keep terror weapons legal…ostensibly as “hunting rifles”. Never mind that this one is used for hunting humans. No, the gun guys must not be deprived of their boy toys. EVER.
And then there’s the fact that men still haven’t learned that they’re not entitled to everything they want simply because they’re men. They haven’t learned that the mere fact of being male is not, in itself, a universal qualification or prerequisite to anything. Be it an education, a job, a relationship, men still think that BEING men should just be enough. That mindset is still leading to terrorist attacks in which women are disproportionately the victims, and there is no end in sight.
We also haven’t learned to take violence against women seriously enough. We’ve barely scratched the surface of that. This ties in to male entitlement, again. We don’t take violence against women seriously because to do so would be to challenge the “right” of men to reign supreme over all things (and persons) female.
Back in the “good” old days, when men ruled the roost, domestic violence was treated differently than a mugging on the street. If a man stole another man’s wallet, or a woman’s purse, the victim could be reasonably assured of getting justice. Not so if it was a woman assaulted by her husband, or raped by a date, or who “disappeared” after “running away” from home as a teenager. We’ve come appallingly short here; the victims of Robert Pickton and the Highway of Tears testify to that. As do all the women still being “shockingly” murdered by “loving” husbands…usually right around the time that they file for divorce from the bastards, who manage to keep their bastardy under wraps as long as they manage to keep “their” women under their thumbs. (Note the quotes, all there for a reason.)
In short, our problems today are the much the same as they were 30 years ago. Our problems are rooted in sexism. It was sexism that made Marc Lépine who he was, and what he became: a terrorist, “waging war against feminism”.
And the solution to this gendered terrorism is the same too. Now as then, it’s not being applied nearly enough. We are “content”, it seems, to send 14 beams of light into the sky in commemoration every year, even as other lights are dimming and going out all around us, without let-up. We are content to “remember”, but not learn, because learning requires us to confront our carefully-buried discontentment, dig it up again, and fucking DO something.
Until our society becomes feminist as a whole, and finally truly egalitarian as a result, and male entitlement and its concomitant violence simply unthinkable, nothing will truly change. We are not there yet; we are nowhere near, and what few steps we’ve taken in the right direction have been timid and faltering. We have taken a lot of pushback, and we have allowed ourselves to be pushed back to pretty much exactly where we were in the beginning. Whole governments at the provincial level are seeing to it that sexism is returned to its pride of place, with a vengeance. And even our federal leaders are not immune to institutional sexism’s allure, if their election campaigns are anything to go by.
Worse yet, too many Canadians think this is actually quite all right…and voted for it.
And that is the REAL tragedy of that day in Montréal, 30 years ago.