As 2014 comes to an end, we begin to reflect on society’s progress regarding feminism and how it has evolved for our generation and for the generations to come. December 6th marks the 25th anniversary of a heinous act of violence against women known as the Montreal Massacre. In 1989, a man named Marc Lépine shot 28 people before killing himself at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada. He started his attack by entering a classroom at the university, separated the men and the women, and asked the men to leave. To the 9 women remaining in the room, Lépine said to them in French that they were all feminists, and then proceeded to shoot them. 6 women died from their injuries. He then started shooting people as he walked around the school. That day, a total of 14 women died and 14 others (both men and women included) were injured. Lépine not only targeted women, but the feminist movement. The anniversary of this event leaves people wondering if the progress made within the last few years has had an impact on people’s opinion of feminism and violence against women.
Although we can attest that feminism is widely talked about as either a current event or in passing, there have been minimal results from actions taken to achieve gender equality within the 21st century. After many years of fighting for women’s rights, we can say that there has been progress, albeit slow, but many could also argue that our goal is getting farther away from our reach. Recent events in 2014 show that violence against women is still an ongoing problem. Events like the Jian Ghomeshi and the Bill Cosby scandals and even the catcalling video promote our rising concern of how women are treated in our current culture but they do not help with the fact that we may not be moving towards a safer society for women and girls at all. These issues are constantly occurring all over the world and they have been happening for hundreds of years yet we pose the question: when will violence against women stop? We witness awareness but are the actions really strong enough to create change? It is difficult to transform and re-root the fundamentals our society was built upon and that’s the biggest challenge when it comes to implementing gender equality. What we’ve learned from the Montreal Massacre is that it took a really long time to initiate a conversation about the repercussions from Lépine’s intentions. A plan to change the way society portrays feminism should be applied. We can’t wake up one morning and have gender equality because changing culture is something that can’t happen overnight. At the same time, it is our job to prevent these violent attacks from happening and that won’t get done if the public just stands by.
YWCA Canada created The Rose Campaign to commemorate the lives that were taken on that tragic day and to prevent future events like this from ever occurring. The message this year is: End Violence Every Day. The campaign works year-round in order to raise public awareness and to put a stop to violence against women and girls. The Rose Campaign initiated Light The Night Against Violence, where on December 6, buildings and monuments will be lit either the campaign colour red or another colour of their choice to promote awareness and the need for action to stop violence against women. The Rose Campaign suggests ways for people to take action on violence against women, like raising children from a young age to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and non-violent manner and to ensure the home and workplace are safe for women and girls by taking the necessary actions. This campaign works hard to initiate change by educating men and women to speak up about violence and to stop gender inequality. A strong plan needs to be coordinated so that violence against women becomes more unacceptable behaviour.
We remember the women who lost their lives on December 6, 1989
Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
Rest In Peace