It’s the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Do you remember where you were on that day?
I do. I was a young mother of a daughter, aged 8. I was about to get pregnant with another one in a few months. But that’s another story
I remember I was in a car, listening to the news. It unfolded slowly: there’s been a shooting at a school in Quebec, a man with a gun went on a rampage and shot a number of students, most of them women (it was the first report, no one was sure of who had been hit). I remember thinking, specifically, “I hope it wasn’t because they were women.” It seemed absurd, actually, and I said it out loud. The person I was with rolled their eyes and said something like, you always think everything has do with being a woman.
Well, for me, it does.
Too bad it was true. So true, he confessed it in his own words, written in a hate-filled manifesto that blamed women for the trials and tribulations in his life. He spewed his hatred at the women with each bullet in his gun.
To the rational person his reason, well, wasn’t.
Rational people across Canada mark December 6th with silence, some will march in rallies; all will recall the lives that were lost that day. Sadly, too, we also call to mind the countless number of fallen sisters who have died at the hands of men who once claimed to love them with all their hearts.
My partner doesn’t believe that women can stop male abuse. He says men have to do the work to stop the violence. I’ve looked online to see what resources are provided to men who are confused with their place in life, angry at the world and looking to blame the women who love them. I was shocked to find nothing in the way of prevention and precious little in the way of treatment. Jail seems to be the big stick we hit them with. There’s understanding for you, that’ll make mad men come around.
Woman abuse is the ultimate expression of misogyny, that is, the hatred of women. How else do you understand the way that some men think they can behave? Men who hit may say, no way, we love our women, but she….. There is no “but”, buddy, except that there is something drastically wrong with your thinking. And we all know the desperate condition of mental health services in this country. Make no mistake about it, misogyny is a mental health issue.
I was involved with a women’s group a number of years ago. It was around the time the White Ribbon Campaign was gearing up, maybe its second year. The White Ribbon Campaign promoted male solidarity with woman abuse activists by men wearing a little white ribbon, pinned to the lapel of a jacket. Or used to, I don’t know if they do that anymore. I haven’t seen one in a while and think I would have noticed it. In any case, the group I was with was handing out packages of ribbon and pins for us to cut up and assemble. I thought this was supposed to be a men’s initiative, I wondered to myself, as I packed away the little baggie in my briefcase to carry home.
I spoke my mind later as I pulled my partner (at the time) into a ribbon cutting party. I have to say that I griped about it quite a bit. Why am I doing this, I asked him (rhetorically, I might add, for I wasn’t really interested in the answer). Here we are again, the women, organizing the solution to the problem. And I guess if it’s our problem we sound find the solution, just like birth control, but it’s taking a hell of a long time to get guys to get with the program.
So when my guy says that men have to do the work to stop male violence, I stand up and cheer, clap loudly and say is anyone listening?