The Massacre at École Polytechnique

Before this moment, I knew extremely little of the Montreal Massacre (also known as the massacre at École Polytechnique), the anniversary of which is today. Now, thanks to Renee, I know a little bit more:

To ensure that there was no confusion as to why he felt the need to enter École Polytechnique and massacre 14 women, Marc Lépine left behind a detailed three page letter in which he blamed feminists for being “so opportunistic they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can”. He considered himself to be “rational” and therefore felt his rage against feminists was justified. He went on to state in his suicide note,” why persevere to exist if it is only to please the government. Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men.” Lépine was so angry at the loss of unearned male privilege due to the advances of feminism; his letter also included a list of nineteen other women that he also wished to see dead.

After such a horrible event there were many that felt that this terrible act of violence should be looked upon as the actions of a sole mad man, who had lost the capacity to reason. While it might be comforting to look at this as a singular incident, to do so would mean ignoring the degree of violence that Canadian women live with on a daily basis.

[. . .]

On that cold winter day Lépine’s victims were just ordinary women working on getting an education. There was nothing special, or unique about any one of them. They became targets of Lépine’s rage for having the audacity to attempt to receive an education. Whatever excuse that is proffered, male violence against women exists to support patriarchy.

Though his fourteen victims now lie silent in a cold grave, their deaths remind all women just how vulnerable we are in a world that has chosen to value one sex above another. We reify this in every single institution from education to government. Each December 6th as we stop to remember our fallen sisters we are reminded of just how far we still have to go.

Go learn.

0 thoughts on “The Massacre at École Polytechnique

  1. Renee

    Thanks so much for writing this up. I was so disheartened that little to no mention about this occurred on the feminists blogs today. Today is essentially a day of mourning for Canadian women.
    I was 15 when this happened and I will never forget the tears I cried that day. I had just had my feminist awakening and this event made clear in my young mind the need for feminism. Each year on Dec 6 I remember those 14 women and the price that they paid.
    To this day every year mens groups try to paint Lepin as just some random crazy killer as though violence against women is not a systemic part of our society. It angers me to no end. Lepin is just one large example of the men that daily believe that they exist with the right to rape, murder, abuse and exploit women for personal gain. This is not a simple isolated incident where one man went nuts, no this is a sign of the ways women continue to be vulnerable.
    Again thank you so much for posting this. In Remembrance of the Montreal 14, Je me souviens.

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  3. Anna

    I can understand intellectually why politics dominated my newspaper today and yesterday, in light of things across Canada, but I’m so wounded to see that a memorial to women dead isn’t front page news.

  4. hexy

    Seeing as I’m reading through your blog for the first time and hence catching up on your past entries backwards… it struck me immediately how similar the sentiment in this suicide note (although not the grammar) is to the troll comment posted two entries above. Same anger, same general viewpoint, same hatred of women. Yet this one was from a man who killed fourteen women.

    And people tell feminists not to take woman-hating comments too seriously.


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