Twenty-three years ago today, a woman-hater named Marc Lépine went on a gendercidal rampage at Montreal’s prestigious École Polytechnique. Armed with a Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife, 25-year-old Lepine – a failed application to the elite engineering school – stormed his way into Room 303, fired two shots into the ceiling and screamed, “I want the women. I hate feminists!” Ordering the forty-eight male students to leave the room, Lépine then forced nine terrified women to line up against the wall and shot them. Six died instantly. Next, he went downstairs to the cafeteria – shooting indiscriminately on the way – killing three more women. His bloodlust still not satisfied, he entered another lecture room and opened fire; as the students scrambled to take cover, Lépine leaped onto the desks and aimed his gun at women as they cowered beneath him. Twenty minutes after the massacre began, Marc Lépine finally turned his gun on himself. By the time the bastard blew off the back of his own head, fourteen women lay dead. Lépine pinned a suicide note to himself in which he blamed his female victims for “retaining the advantages of being women … while trying to grab those of the men,” and listed nineteen prominent women of Quebec – including a journalist, union leader, police captain and Montreal’s first female fire fighter – that were also on his wish list of death.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, as Canadians searched for a rationale, commentators quite rightly focussed on reforming gun-control regulations. This premeditated massacre of fourteen female students also, naturally, galvanised the women’s movement – which viewed it as a tragic symbol of three thousand years of women-hating that continues to permeate all of society’s major institutions. Other voices, however, insisted this was an isolated act of a “lone gunman” and in no way representative western culture. Some criticised feminists for appropriating the massacre for their cause, and some even blamed feminists – claiming that Pro-Choice lobbyists were in fact responsible for the climate that created a monster such as Lépine.
Those who would reduce this gendercide to the act of an insane and isolated individual are Misogyny Deniers. Fourteen women were coldly gunned down by a man who blamed them for his own failures. He hated these women because they attended a university that had rejected him. His “hit list” of other women were successful in traditionally male arenas. Marc Lépine was a misogynist, and the Montreal Massacre was a hate crime against women.
The anniversary of this tragedy is commemorated in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. So let us conclude this entry by remembering the names of Lépine’s fourteen innocent victims: