By Louise Meek, NUS-USI FE Officer
6 December 1989 is a day that many remember as a horrific example of violence against women when a young man flaunting a firearm burst into a college classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada. The 60 odd engineering students had little time to react before the men were ordered from the room and the gunman began shooting the women. Six female students were killed instantly, while three more were left injured.
Marc Lépine had previously been denied admission to the École Polytechnique and had been upset, it later transpired, about women working in positions “traditionally” occupied by men. Before he opened fire, Lépine shouted: “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists”. He believed that women and feminism has ruined his life. He talked in his suicide note about taking the lives of feminists and sending them to ‘meet their maker’.
Marc Lépine killed 14 women that day and left 10 injured. We commemorate this day as one of remembrance and a day to take action on violence against women. It is a day to show that we have learned from the past and to take action against the continuous violence against women and girls of all ages, classes and races so that we can create a future where no one suffers violence or discrimination because they identify themselves as a women.
To end on a quote by feminist writer, Andrea Dworkin said: “It is incumbent upon each of us to be the woman that Marc Lépine wanted to kill. We must live with this honour, this courage. We must drive out fear. We must hold on. We must create. We must resist.”