Sunday, 13 December 2009

Montreal Polytechnique Engineering Faculty 6th December 1989

Perhaps the whole world knew about this, but not me until I read something today in Le Monde weekend magazine, as it is just over 20 years since Marc Lepine, a Canadian, walked into the engineering faculty lecture hall of the Montreal Polytechnic University, drew a gun, fired it at the ceiling, sent the men, 50 or so of them, out of the room, said to the women students that he 'hated feminists' and if they were women who wanted to be engineers that is what they were, and shot six of the nine present dead, following this up with a shooting rampage through the university in which I think another eight women were killed, including a nurse and a member of the canteen staff, and quite a number of others hurt, including two men. Then he killed himself. Sorry, that first one was quite a long sentence, but I am aghast. Not just at what happened, but at the fact that since the arrival of Teh Internetz there have appeared, especially but not only in Canada, a number of sites which describe themselves as "masculinist", some of which make Marc Lepine a hero, and also that Fathers4Justice have cited Marc Lepine approvingly, and even more that in 2002 members of the Canadian armed forces held some kind of rally in memory of Marc Lepine the feminist-killing hero.

Members of the Quebec and wider Canadian establishment, and many others, wear white ribbons on 6th December against violence against women, which I suspect misses the point rather. Two of the men sent out of the lecture hall in which the women were killed by Marc Lepine subsequently committed suicide. Makes you think, doesn't it? And not in a good way. Why do we not remember this? Those in Quebec and in France who do remember tell us that at the time the expressions of outrage, and the public statements, came from men. A cardinal, the head of the university, one of the men not killed - you know, proper people. Not women.

We all knew this was around, but we didn't want to think about it, did we?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. My late wife was a Civil Engineer in Reading, and I used to go to dinners and social functions organised by the Womens Engineering Society - I am genuinely surprised that I had not heard about this before.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit puzzled. Are you saying there weren't any expressions of outrage from women or that there were, but they weren't reported? Changing the subject, I like your new picture. Is there a message board on top of that pole or are you pole-dancing?

jane said...

Thank you for these comments. It seems from what I have read that no-one asked any of the women either present or in positions of prominence (even in 1989 Montreal had female elected representatives) what they thought about it, and there are members of women's groups then active in Canada who still today are angry that their voices and opinions were not of interest to the media. If it had been a racist or homophobic killing, it is suggested, it would not have been silenced in the way that it appears to have been. I suspect that this outrage may have helped to inspire Canadian writer Margaret Atwood's book The Handmaid's Tale. But I haven't checked and could be wrong especially in terms of dates.

jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jane said...

oh and the picture was taken in Norway in August last year 2008 so is not new - and I am not pole dancing, there is a street sign on top of that pole.

dreamingspire said...

I like the caption below the photo:
"Jane Griffiths n’est pas la personne que vous cherchiez ? Faites une nouvelle recherche"
C'est la vie.
(Word verification is a real word this morning "chips". As in You have had your...?)

jane said...

C'est a dire, dreamingspire?

St Martin S, Reading said...

I'm thinking of taking up pole-dancing to improve my physical fitness.

Obviously, I am very keen to avoid being objectified.