I still remember watching the National (with Barbara Frum) on December 6, 1989. Marc Lepine had just murdered fourteen women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal because he hated feminists. The women who died were Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. I still remember that cold shaking fear I felt that night, that men could hate women so much. I was eleven, a girl, and already a feminist, and it made me realize how much power men exerted over women, or how much they wanted power. Even how much people hate feminists, men AND women alike. It wasn’t feminists who stopped him getting into engineering school. He was rejected because he hadn’t completed his prerequisites.
We all said it would never happen again, we all did annual marches, we all tried to raise awareness of violence towards women. Did we succeed? Women are still beaten, raped, and murdered. Aboriginal women go missing or are targeted by serial killers at an alarming rate.
And now, within the space of two weeks, two male gun men have entered two different American schools and taken girls hostage and either sexually assaulted them or planned to, and murdered them. Both men killed themselves. So did Marc Lepine. And in the beginning of September a man went on a rampage in a college in Montreal which killed one woman, he also killed himself. Throughout this the media have focused on the topic of school shootings, in generalized terms. But these weren’t ordinary school shootings. The gunmen weren’t students. They were adult men preying on girls. Girls specifically. And yet the American mass media won’t touch the gender issue, won’t look at the role of misogyny in any of these recent shootings.
One news report I read talked about the rope, board with eye holes, and lubricant that the killer at the Amish school brought with him. They said “Something worse could have happened to them than what did.” Five girls are dead, shot point blank in the head. Five other girls are in critical care, and will probably die. I don’t think rape and murder should be compared, it’s too weird. Both are awful things in their own seperate distinct way. But this line implies that a woman’s virginity is more important than her life. And it sickens me.
I can’t say the Montreal Massacre opened all Canadian’s eyes to violence against women, but we did ask each other a lot of tough questions, we were confronted with it, news reporters discussed the issue.
The other creepy thing about American media is the coverage on these shootings compared to the coverage on Rep. Foley’s explicit emails and text messages to male pages. TONS of stories are published every day on this issue, people are outraged, people are using it as an excuse to bash homosexuals, people want an investigation. But the lives of girls are merely a footnote. While people frantically try to ensure the protection of male pages, few people are concerned about the safety of females of any age. Think about how many sexual harrassment issues women in Washington deal with continually. Would people be upset if these pages were women instead of men? I doubt it.