Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec 6, 1989 - Remembering

Today is December 6th.   Twenty-two years ago today, an armed man walked into Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, calmly and systematically separated women from men, and then proceeded to gun down 14 women and wound many others, articulating consistently his hatred of women, and of feminists in particular.

This day is and will forever remain permanently imprinted upon my memory.

I remember where I was that day, where I was sitting, how the material of the couch felt scratchy and rough underneath my hands.

I remember watching the news coverage and being just rooted to the spot, unable to move and aware of every breathe.

I remember the tenor of my newly divorced father's voice muttering behind me that "those feminists are going to have a field-day with this."   I remember not knowing exactly what those words meant, but knowing somehow that those words were angry at women, too.  

I can remember my mother calling from her new house in the city to see if I was okay.  I can remember saying yes, because I didn't know what else to say. 

I can remember the cold shock that engulfed my 14 year old self - reeling in the face of the reality that girls could be hated, could be shot, could be killed in their schools . . . for being girls.

I can also remember the subsequent media coverage, with experts left, right and centre explaining away the horrible, terrifying actions of Marc Lepine as the work of a 'crazy person,' and as an 'isolated incident,' as if those terms could make it okay to pretend that Lepine's actions were not intrinsically linked to the larger entrenched problem of violence against women in our country, and in our culture. 

The events of December 6, 1989 are still heartbreakingly and bone-chillingly relevant.  They are still connected to the larger, deep rooted problem of violence against women in general.  They are connected to every person who says 'it's none of my business' when they hear a domestic assault taking place; connected to the need to have a sexual assault campaign in this city letting men know that women who are extremely inebriated or passed out cold aren't able to consent to sex; connected to the rotten, crap assed reality that women are still blamed for their own abuse and assaults (shouldn't have been drinking, shouldn't have been out at night, shouldn't have been wearing those sexy sweatpants, shouldn't stay with him and on and on and on and on ad nauseum.)

The Montreal Massacre was neither random nor isolated.  The continued violence against women in our country, in our provinces, in our cities, in our homes is not random, nor isolated.  They are, each and every one of them, linked to our larger cultural acquiescence to, and acceptance of, misogyny.

I know that when my own Girlio is 14, I will remember still.

I hope against hope that I might be able to tell her, then, how much has changed since that awful day in 1989.

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