At 5:10 p.m., a gunman with a mini-14 rifle in hand and a hunting knife on his person entered a classroom at École Polytechnique in Montréal that was occupied by about 60 engineering students.
He ordered the women to the back of the room and for the men to leave.
When the students didn’t comply with his orders, he fired warning shots into the ceiling. The men left, fearing for their lives and leaving the women with the gunman.
The gunman asked the nine women in front of him if they knew why he was cornering them. One woman, Nathalie Provost, responded, “no.”
“I am fighting feminism,” he said in French.
”We are not feminists,” Provost said. “I have never fought against men.” But it was too late. The gunman began to open fire on the women.
“You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.”
With the most recent mass shootings and the rise of men who feel exposed by the feminist movement, this account might sound like something you’d hear about on the evening news. But this shooting is more than a quarter of a century old.
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, a shooting that left 14 women dead, a majority of them engineering students, because — according to the gunman — they were feminists and feminism had ruined his life.
Twitter welcomed the hashtag #Rememberthe14 Sunday to honor the young women who’d lost their lives and those like Provost, who had survived, inside an institute of learning where most of them were pursuing a career in a field dominated by men.
But as we remember these women, we forget how similar their fate is for women today.
This brutal killing is parallel to several gendered mass shootings we’ve seen recently.
The shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a few weeks ago seems to be an intentional attack on reproductive rights after the gunman muttered “no more baby parts” to law enforcement.
A gunman killed six people last year in Isla Vista, California, because “girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to (him),” according to his own manifesto he posted on YouTube moments before the shooting.
Women have enough reasons to fear men, such as high rates of sexual assault, stalking and violence from an intimate partner, but we’ve been lying to ourselves if we believe this is an issue of individual safety. Gendered violence and misogyny can even be the motivation of a mass shooting.
But this never seems to be the topic of discussion when a shooting like the École Polytechnique massacre occurs.
News outlets bring up theories about mental illness and “beta-male mentality” that eventually create a vicious argument about restricting guns or managing those who are mentally ill better.
We never strictly address how often men kill women — as individuals and in groups — because they are women.
If you think this problem is a theory conducted by a femi-nazi who is using “rare” incidents to punish men, I ask you this: When is the last time you can remember a female shooter gunning down men specifically or citing men as the reason for their mass killing?
According to the FBI, of the 160 active shooter incidents between 2001 and 2013 in the U.S., only 6 involved female shooters.
The most recent female shooter of the San Bernardino terrorist attack was a jihadist, and it seems her targets weren’t specified by gender.
Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group against gun violence that gained traction after the Sandy Hook shootings, conducted an analysis of mass shootings from January 2009 to July 2015 and found while “15 percent of total gun homicide victims in the U.S. between 2008-12 were female, 50 percent of the victims of mass shootings in this analysis were female.”
Men, not just women, should be concerned about these numbers, not only because we all should be fighting gendered violence but because men are not always spared in these attacks, and men are usually the shooters.
Feminism isn’t ruining men’s lives — the patriarchy ruins lives, and those who feel threatened by the dismantling of it probably benefit from the power scheme.
Feminism isn’t causing the deaths of women in these mass shootings, and feminism isn’t the reason for gendered violence — men are.
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