Dec 6 Is a Hard Day or “When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them”

[CN: violence against women, December 6th Massacre, vague mentions of sexualized violence]

Every year I dread December 6. Facebook becomes covered in pledges to end violence against women and a listing of the names, while the mainstream media presents a sanitized and de-politicized version.

And every year I am reminded how profoundly the world hates me and every other woman. It is not just the Marc Lépines and Elliot Rodgers of the world–though they are bad enough. It is the media who carefully elides Lépine’s targeting of feminists, Rodgers’ misogynistic screeds, it is the men in my life who, at best, are silent, at worst, are scoffing. Don’t make something out of nothing. Elliot Rodgers killed men too. We need to talk about gun control. We need to talk about mental health. Don’t lump me in!

It is the piece of shit Justice Minister who said this week,

This week, we remember the horrific events that took place in Montreal at École Polytechnique 25 years ago, and while we may never understand what occurred — why this happened, why these women were singled out for this horrific act of violence, we have to stand together.

No! We know! We know because Marc Lépine told us! He didn’t make us guess. He didn’t make us puzzle over the fact that he divided the men and the women, let the men go, and then started systematically murdering 14 young women. He wrote it down. He told the world that he hates feminists. That he blames feminists for all that has gone wrong in his life. That he would target and murder feminists. He shouted, as he was murdering 14 women, that he was murdering them for being feminists (the irony being that we don’t actually know how many of the women murdered and injured actually identified as feminists).

Elliot Rodgers, too, told us who he was targeting, and why. He was going to murder women because he felt entitled to them. Because if they wouldn’t fuck him then they didn’t deserve to live.

And all these men said But he killed men too! Stop making this about sexism! He killed men too! Let’s talk about gun control! Let’s talk about mental health!

I was told once, by a man close to me, that I needed to “think about who I was spending my time with” when I cited a rape statistic.As if the government of Canada’s statistics were influenced by my spending time with feminists. As if the government of Canada was including a man saying “hello” to a woman as “rape.”

As if my own grasp of statistics was suspect because I was a woman and an advocate for survivors. As if the violence I have experienced–the catcalling, the following, the groping–negates anything I could have to say on the matter. As if the fact that I have spent the last five years of my professional and academic life working in the field, immersed in the statistics and policy and lived experiences of violence against women, counts for nothing. Worse, makes me “biased.” Unreliable.

And after all this, after having not just my lived experience challenged, but my professional and academic experience challenged, my citing of government statistics challenged, after being obliviously gaslight, I am supposed to trust this person.

I am supposed to trust the men who are remarkably silent on December 6th, the men who posit that Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby just might be victims of mass conspiracies of women wanting…(?), the men who decry the “politicization” of instances of violence against women while doing their damned best to shut us up–their privilege letting them ignore that this, in itself, is a political act. The Justice Minister who ignores Lépine’s own words to throw his hands up in confusion over the gosh darn unsolvable motive behind the murder of 14 women.

And yes, yes, #notallmen. Whatever. Here’s the thing, though. You need to prove it. You’re #notallmen? Prove it. Don’t whine, don’t recenter yourself and your experience. Prove it. Be an actual ally. Shut up and listen when women talk. Educate and shame when men victim blame or make rape jokes or otherwise contribute to rape culture. Signal boost women’s voices. Talk about December 6th. Talk about what you do to end violence against women.

December 6th makes me feel unsafe in a way that transcends words. It makes me feel less safe than I have felt when men have done me actual physical harm. It wrecks my sleep and wrecks my stomach and reminds me that I will never be truly safe until men step up.

Because we’ve been marching. Generations of women have been marching and shouting and letter-writing. And while we’ve seen some real gains (did you know marital rape wasn’t a crime in Canada until 1983?) the fight isn’t half over.

Read more about Ecole Polytechnique here. Or watch the haunting and important film, Polytechnique.

And a commenting note: I moderate comments and will usually allow dissenting but respectful opinions to stand. On this post I will brook no shit.

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2 thoughts on “Dec 6 Is a Hard Day or “When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them”

  1. The “we don’t know why they did it” crowd makes my face twitch. It’s like, what do these people need to believe a mass shooting was motivated by hatred of women? As far as I’m concerned, people who are willfully obtuse with regards to the stated motives of guys like Lepine and Rodger are part of the problem.

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