On the 6th December 1989, a young man with a firearm went into a college classroom at the École Polytechnique, Montreal, and killed 14 people and injured 10. The 25 year old, named Marc Lépine, had previously been denied admission to the college for engineering. Once he had found out how many women had got the positions instead, he was very angry and upset as he believed engineering to be a role traditionally occupied by men. After entering the classroom, where 60 or so engineering students were, he ordered the men to leave the room. Before opening fire on the women left, he screamed “you’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists.” After leaving that room, where 6 women were left dead, he continued his killing spree and killed 8 more women. 4 of the individuals left injured were men, who were unintentionally killed in the crossfire. To finish, he killed himself.
When the media found out about this killing spree, they avoided the fact that it was a targeted attack against women. Instead, he was a “madman” and women happened to be the ones that were killed. The police force, at the time, found a suicide note in which Lépine had written prior to the shooting. However, they refused to share what the note had said. When it eventually got leaked, it was further shown that the attack was against women. In the note, Lépine had said “I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their maker…I have decided to put an end to those viragos.” Also, within the letter, was a list of radical feminists at the time whom he said he would have killed if he had the time to do so. Whilst it was noticeable that the attack was against women, as proven by witnesses and the suicide letter, the media continued to ignore the anti-feminist views behind Lépine, as it showed a flaw within their society.
In response to the massacre, the surviving members of the Polytechnique campaigned to change gun laws in Canada. With a petition to make more rigid gun laws came little change. In order to acquire a gun under the new law, Lépine would have had to prove he was older than 16 and had no criminal record. In addition to this, he would have had to check a box on the Firearms Acquisition Certificate indicating he was not mentally ill. However, the gun Lépine used, a Mini-14 rifle, was not put on the banned list. This is because of it’s links to hunting. In fact, when Lépine bought he rifle, he had told the shopkeeper that he was going after “small game.” To this day, 30 years on, individuals still campaign to get the gun banned.
The Montreal Massacre is still remembered to this day, with the 6th of December becoming national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, in Canada. It was not until more recently that the commemorative plaque hanging outside of a Montreal park, honouring those killed in the attack, was changed to acknowledge the anti-feminist aspect of the attack. It was changed to: “This park is named in the memory of 14 women assassinated in an anti-feminist attack.”
Violence against women is still a massive issue in the world. In Canada, a study found that a woman or girl is killed every 2.5 days. Whilst all of these attacks may not be based on their gender, many still are. However, the issue still goes unaddressed by political leaders. A Montreal university professor, and expert on the Polytechnique shooting, says that the obstacle to solving the issue is an unwillingness to call violence against women an act of hatred. Until this is recognised, hatred against women, in particular feminists, who are still viewed in a negative way, will continue to go on.