Thursday, January 25, 2007

Violence and my Visceral Reaction

Ok, obviously it has taken me 2 months, and I haven't yet figured out what I want to say about this article. I've reallized, though, that my problem in figuring out what to articulate is based on my attempt to overcome the desire to label that I talked about in my last post. I want to listen to what this person is saying, and not dismiss them as a crazy right-wing nut-bar . . . but basically her thesis kicks me in the gut. Maybe I'll respond to it sometime soon, but in the meantime, I'd love your comments.

December 6, 2006

Lone gunman
The Ecole Polytechnique massacre was a freak tragedy. So why is every man made to feel guilty for it?
Barbara Kay, National Post

Seventeen years ago today Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in Canada's worst mass murder. From this human tragedy of no inherent political significance, a political industry emerged, which produced in the massacre's name: gun control laws, lavish public spending on women's causes, feminist-guided school curricula and a high tolerance for overt misandry.

In the massacre's wake, ideologues elevated Lepine's rampage from a random act by one disaffected individual into the gender equivalent of Kristallnacht or 9/11. A narrative evolved in which every woman became a potential victim of an organized, hate-driven enemy -- like the Nazis or al-Qaeda -- with the massacre as an ominous harbinger of more aggression to come.

Both male and female feminists colluded in promoting the myth of lone killer Lepine as the symbol of all males' innate hostility to women, however dormant it might appear. In a shameful, inflammatory broadside affirming generalized male responsibility, for example, a group called Montreal Men Against Sexism responded to the massacre with self-hating stereotyping inconceivable in the context of a similar crime committed by, say, a black or a Muslim: "Men kill women and children as a proprietary, vengeful and terrorist act ... with the support of a sexist society ... As pro-feminist men, we try to reveal and to end this continuing massacre."

What "continuing massacre"? Women have been subjugated by men throughout history, but organized massacres of women by their own culture's males? Never.

In an equally specious analogy, career arch-feminist Judy Rebick commented: "If [Lepine had] killed 14 Jews, he'd have been seen as ... anti-Semitic." Yes, and rightly so, because anti-Semitism is a historical syndrome involving a litany of actual massacres by organized Jew-haters. But no similar historical record exists of organized women haters or of women-specific massacres.

Such rhetorical duplicity, endlessly replicated, has resulted in harmful social fallout. Amongst other unjust and gender-divisive consequences, the "White Ribbon" educational movement, initiated in 1991 as a direct response to the massacre, and now integrated into more than 100 schools across Canada, sponsors a biased, error-riddled curriculum on domestic violence (read "violence against women by men"). A freak tragedy has thus become the misandric lens through which many Canadian children are taught to perceive gender relations.

Publicly endowed grievance rites like the annual Dec. 6 vigils are inappropriate responses to isolated acts of violence. National mourning ceremonies should consecrate events that have shaped our civic character. Honouring the dead should draw people together -- the whole country, not half -- either to heal historic wounds, acknowledge sacrifices made on all our parts and strengthen our sense of national purpose, or to affirm solidarity in the face of calamities inflicted by a real, external enemy.

The Montreal Massacre commemoration industry, whose emotive effect depends on scapegoating men, is having the opposite effect: For the sins of a few, the nature of half our polity is often falsely maligned, breeding suspicion and hostility in women, needless shame and guilt in all men and boys, and mutual resentment and mistrust between the sexes.

Ritualized violence against women, such as wife beating, bride burnings or honour killings, is a function of retrograde cultural notions of sexual relations. If such abhorrent behaviours were officially tolerated or encouraged here, then politicizing a particularly egregious example would be justified in order to end the practice.

But the complete reverse is the case. Officially and unofficially, virtually to a man and woman, Canadians schooled in our heritage culture utterly repudiate violence against women. Proof lies in the fact that while many gendercides in history have targeted males, none preceding or following the Montreal Massacre in the West has singled out women.

Most people assume Lepine's rage was entirely focused on women. In fact, the perpetually troubled misfit entertained serial and disparate revenge fantasies. An earlier ambition, noted in his suicide note as one of several "projects," was to join the Armed Forces as an officer cadet, gain access to the arsenal and embark on a shooting rampage. In that case, those murdered would have been males, and Marc Lepine, along with his victims -- their names inscribed on a commemorative plaque in the armory perhaps -- would by now have faded from our national memory. Something for Canadian "equality" buffs to ponder at the vigil tonight.


Simone said...

No comments to make on this as of yet. I'll try and give it some thought. However, I thought I'd just offer an opposing view to get the thoughts going - from a feminist science blogger in the US

Simone said...

hmmm it's a problem to paste in links so that they all fit... need to learn html you may have to cut and paste to get this to work.

Carolyn said...

That's an amazing article. I remember going to a Montreal Massacre Memorial in 1st year law school, and really being hit by the fact that they were killed because they were going into a male=dominated profession, same as mine has historically been.