Gender-Based Violence as Real Today as Dec. 6, 1989

Updated on December 9, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

30 Years Since The École Polytechnique Massacre
30 Years Since The École Polytechnique Massacre | Source

Has Gender-Based Violence Worsened Since The Montreal Massacre?

On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 young women lost their lives when a gunman told the men to leave the area he'd just entered and then opened fire on the women. These were children, almost—college students who were working towards what looked like a bright future ahead. A bright future that was snuffed out at the hands of a madman who'd had enough of feminists.

30 Years After the École Polytechnique Massacre

It was, and still is, Canada's worst mass shooting. Now, three decades later, people are acknowledging that it was, in fact, an anti-feminist attack. To be sure, the cycle of gender-based violence has continued even today, when one might expect that we are more enlightened and less prone to be as violent as some would have suggested back then. In fact, according to Global News, venerated journalist Barbara Frum pushed back at the notion that this violence was one of the results of a society that tolerates violence against women. She suggested at the time that it was the violence itself, and not the fact that it was perpetrated against women, that was the real issue.

This is not to say that violence against men doesn't occur. Far from it; in cases where it's believed that the man is the victim in an abusive relationship, for instance, the abuse tends to be chronically underreported. However, the violence against women and those who might identify as another gender identity continues unabated. The 2018 Toronto van attack is believed to have been motivated by the incel movement, for instance, and on average, a woman is killed every other day. Trans women of color are murdered or otherwise harmed in numbers that continue to climb.

It's time to recognize that there is gender-based violence, regardless of the sort of violence that is occurring, and it's time that we actually acknowledge it without prettying it up by saying that it's anything else other than what it is: violence against a particular group due to their gender identity.

However, we need to be careful in acknowledging the gender-based violence, as it could imply that because one person perpetrates that level of violence, all members of the group are responsible for it. We can't argue, for instance, that because one man engaged in violence against someone of a different gender, all men, therefore, must be evil. We can acknowledge that some groups are more likely to perpetrate violence than others, but these sorts of arguments, in reality, get us nowhere.

We need to acknowledge gender-based violence for what it is—violence targeting someone because of their specific gender—and we need to acknowledge that there are several groups who have the potential to engage in such violence. Then, we have to figure out what to do about it.

I am a woman. I acknowledge that if someone were to attempt violence on my daughters, it would result in no holds barred violence on my part to protect them. No question; you do not poke the Momma Bear. Because, however, this is a very different world from the world we lived in in 1989 when the Montreal massacre occurred, these pockets of individuals that incite violent acts—any sort of violence, not just gender-based violence—are more difficult to find prior to enacting their plan for mass violence. There are those who believe that to get their message across about whatever their ideology might be that violence is the only way. Because they establish a presence in various pockets of the internet, it's a challenge to track these individuals down before tragedy occurs.

In all honesty, I fail to understand how violence helps anything at all. Gender-based violence is a form of violence that targets various gender identities that might be believed to be more fragile than others. Therefore, it is easy to "win" if violence occurs. However, violence engenders harm that is far more wide-ranging than what may have originally been conceived of by the perpetrator, and only incites sorrow and anger.

Is there a way to stop the violence before it even begins? I do not know, but we need to continue to work throughout society to try and prevent further instances of mass violence from occurring again.


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