Monday, December 6, 2010

Montreal Massacre

Today is the 21st anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. In case you don't know about it, on December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine killed 14 women and wounded 13 at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. Lépine couldn't deal with the growing presence of women in the public life of Quebec. He was especially bothered by their presence at the Polytechnique, which formerly was a bastion of male exclusivity. Lépine applied to the École Polytechnique but was rejected. So he decided to take revenge on women, whom he decided to blame for that. Curiously, he had applied to the Canadian Armed Forces before and had also been rejected, which, however, didn't make him want to kill soldiers and army officials in revenge.

This is what Lépine wrote in his suicide note:
Please note that if I am committing suicide today ... it is not for economic reasons ... but for political reasons. For I have decided to send Ad Patres [Latin: "to the fathers"] the feminists who have ruined my life. ... The feminists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being women ... while trying to grab those of men. ... They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can.
The incredibly clumsy language of the message suggests that instead of blaming feminists for his failure Lépine should have looked at his grave intellectual limitations. But as any male chauvinist, this murderer never took any responsibility for his own failings. Instead, he decided to use a very old and trusted patriarchal trick of blaming women for every problem under the sun. So he armed himself with a rifle and went into the Polytechnique insearch of women to kill:
On the evening of December 6, 1989, shortly after 5 o'clock on the penultimate day of classes before the Christmas holidays, Lépine carried a concealed Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle into the École Polytechnique. His first female victim, Maryse Laganiere, was killed in a corridor. He then proceeded to Room 303, a classroom which held 10 women students and 48 men, along with a male professor. Firing two shots into the ceiling and shouting, "I want the women. I hate feminists!," Lépine enacted a gendercidal ritual . . . Separating the men from the women, he expelled the men at gunpoint, lined up the remaining women students against the wall, and began to fire. Six women died; the others were injured, but survived.
Responding to the massacre, Montreal Men Against Sexism wrote a statement with which it is hard to disagree:
Men kill women and children as a proprietary, vengeful and terrorist act. They do so with the support of a sexist society and judicial system. As pro-feminist men, we try to reveal and to end this continuing massacre, which will go on as long as we do not end sexism and sexist violence, along with all of men's alibis for them.


cringe-all said...

very tragic and unusual. Usually such men express their hatred through domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. I have never heard of such targeted "gendericide" before. The wiki entry on him informs me that his father was abusive and he himself had a lot of personality disorders and other issues.

el said...

They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages

Clumsy language? It doesn't make any logical sense at all. How can somebody be too opportunistic to profit from something?

Clarissa said...

cringe-all: every loser has a sob story, who cares?

el: My point exactly. The guy is a total idiot but who's to blame? Well, women, of course. Welcome back to the blog! :-)

cringe-all said...

I made this point not as a sob story but because there is huge scope for debate here between those who will see this as generally symptomatic of a societal discourse of male domination and those who will see this as a one-off incident caused by a deranged man. The last paragraph of your post suggests that you are in the former camp. Personally I am not so sure. I feel his having an abusive father is significant here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Clarissa. Like millions of Montrealers and Québécois I remember Dec. 6 1989 like it was yesterday. I even remembered that it snowed that day, like today.

I compulsively need to stroll in the Dec. 6 park near the Université de Montréal... and think.

Lépine may have been deranged and may have had an abusive father, but I wonder to what extent this information is relevant to the social significance of this massacre. I am saying this because we should never forget a simple fact: Lépine's action was targeted against women.

This simple fact has to be repeated again and again, because after the Polytechnique massacre, many social commentators in Québec tried to overlook the gender-hatred nature of Lépine's act. This massacre led to many painful discussions that revealed the misogynist nature of many individuals in our society.


Marissa said...


This is not a case of individual causes vs. structural causes. It is never the case that an event can simply be explained by one or the other. Obviously Lepine was deranged and had personal issues. But why did his derangement take the expression that it did? Why did he blame feminists and not something else? That can be explained by structural factors and societal misogyny.

Sue McPherson said...

Clarissa recognizes that it was feminists who were the subject of Lepine's ire, not the military. Accordingly, one might asssume that there was something personal about the rejection he received in his attempts to attend the Polytechnique. Feminists (or should I say pseudofeminists) can be hostile, in fact downright nasty when they don't get their own way. And many seem willing to do anything to maintain their reputation of innocence while at the same time destroying the reputation of those who get in their way. The revenge Marc Lepine committed is an indication of the experience he went through, I should think - not at the hands of his father but at the hands of women/pseudofeminists. The myth that intelligence is rewarded in our society while those not intelligent will never get into university is a bit of naivety that we need to get beyond. Lepine lacked the support to continue his education, in a situation where women were taking places previously held for men.

Pashupati said...

In which way is his language clumsy?
Sure, he doesn't have the smarter, most logical arguments, he make sophisms and fallacious reasoning... But his language isn't clumsy to me.

Pashupati said...

What I mean is:
Clumsy language would be syntax, conjugation and grammatical errors. Lack of vocabulary.

Clarissa said...

Sue McPherson: Your comment is disgusting. Shame on you.

Clarissa said...


"They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can."

-As el pointed out, the first sentence contradicts itself. The second sentence relies on unexplained "they", "them", "they," which makes the statement incomprehensible. I fail students for writing like this.

Pashupati said...

Get it.
"They" could be either women or feminists.
I guess first "they" designate women, second feminists.

Sue McPherson said...

Clarissa, Reading your blog again, I wonder, do you realize that Marc Lepine wrote his suicide note in French. What we usually get to read it the English translation of it. I hope that you would go beyond the literal meanings of words and sentences to read between the lines and get some idea, from the suicide note and from other posts, what it is people are saying.

Clarissa said...

I'm from Quebec, so please don't insult my intelligence by telling me how to read in French. You can look "between the lines" all you want, but it does not excuse your desire to justify the actions of a mass murderer because you have some unhealthy prejudice against successful women.

Once again: shame on you.

Sue McPherson said...

Clarissa, There is a new way of looking at such things, which some women do, and some men, and that is to try to understand what Marc Lepine was trying to accomplish. Talking about it doesn't justify his actions. But it can help understand why he did it. It must have been very frustrating for him trying to get women to understand what it was like for him, to lose his place in society. I have a very healthy prejudice against women who get into positions of power and influence for reasons other than intelligence. The ones who have earned the right to dismiss the ideas of people they don't give a damn about usually don't.

Clarissa said...

What do you mean "trying to accomplish"? He went and killed people. Actual live human beings. Do you get that at all? They are all lying dead now because this freak "tried to accomplish" whatever.

If I were you, I wouldn't talk about intelligence quite so much. The following sentence you wrote: "The ones who have earned the right to dismiss the ideas of people they don't give a damn about usually don't" is so convoluted as to be completely ridiculous.

It's usually the most ridiculous ignoramuses who walk around making judgements on who should be killed because they are not intelligent enough.

You are disgusting and you make me want to vomit. And, by the way, you are also competely devoid of any intelligence, as your inept writing skills so fully demonstrate.

Anonymous said...

Sue, you've got a problem, and it's more than just stupidity. Why are you even here? Are you really a woman?

If Marc Lepine were so damaged by his father, stands to reason he would have targeted older men...but he didn't. He blamed all his problems and failure to succeed on women. Why?


Pashupati said...

"Why are you even here?"
She has the right to be there.
She found this blog during a websearch or by another blog, something like that.
"If Marc Lepine were so damaged by his father, stands to reason he would have targeted older men...but he didn't. "
It's not that simple :o
It depends on what was going on his mind; if he thought his father was in the right while being like it, if he saw him as a model, if he didn't, if he did while hating him, possibilities are infinite.

Sue Macpherson,
"I have a very healthy prejudice against women who get into positions of power and influence for reasons other than intelligence."
Everybody can get into positions of power and influence for reasons other than intelligence; I would even say most people do.
I'm sure there are some politics out there who just do what some sort of strategical guide tell them to do.
(When I say "I'm sure", I really mean "I am sure", not "I know".)

Anonymous said...

Sue, you are deranged. I just wasted 15 minutes of my time by going to your blog and the things you think and verbalize are insane. How anyone in their right mind can justify a murderer is beyond my comprehension.


Clarissa said...

Sometimes I publish a post, thinking: "Well, this is so clear-cut and self-evident that hardly anybody will find this controversial." Mass murder is wrong. Walking into a school with a gun and killing students is not a good thing. Duh.

Well, guess what. There is always some nasty creature who wants to argue that the murderer was "trying to accomplish" something important. How anybody could be so deluded is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

It is not clear-cut. As I wrote, this massacre led to many painful discussions.

The same happened with the Dawson massacre. A Toronto journalist (from the National Post if I am not mistaken) wrote that the guy who decided to shot at people in his school did so because, as an immigrant, he felt that Québec rejected him.