Remembering Ecole Polytechnique

December 6th passed by without my noting it. Dreadful.

On December 6th, 1989, Marc Lepine, a disgruntled man of 25, let his rage overtake him as he stormed through the halls of Montreal’s Eqole Polytechnique, slaughtering 14 women and injuring 13 others.

He had once applied to the school but was rejected for reasons not listed.

He entered a classroom and separated the men from the women, sent the men running, and before he opened fire on the women that remained, he screamed “I hate feminists!”

It took 45 minutes to burn itself into my brain for what will be the rest of my life.

I knew then that I could never, ever let the struggle for women’s equality fade away from my mind. What has had so high a price paid for us to have the lives, education, opportunities, and freedoms we have now, that needs to be remembered, honoured, and upheld.

So that then leaves me with two problems.

One, that I absolutely deplore, despise, and loathe girls of the generation coming up today (and I thank god there are exceptions) who persist tossing away ambition and smarts, or at the very least playing down their smarts, in an attempt to be seen as sexy, and in an attempt to get by. As Pink said, “sexy and smart don’t need to be oil and water.”

You wanna sleep your way to the top? You go, sister. But at least take your five-dollar, five-syllable vocab with you and get prepared to intellectually throw down if you must. C’mon, fucking be someone more.

And two, I want to assert right here, right now, that I can indeed be a feminist while celebrating the best parts of what masculinity is. (C’mon, there are aspects of being female I think I could do without, and there are aspects of masculinity I absolutely know I could do without, all right? I call ‘em as I see ‘em.)

I despise feminists who seek their power through the erosion of masculinity. If you need to tear someone down in order to build yourself up, I assure you – you are building on shaky ground. It’s not right. It’s not something I’m cool with. I love strong, conversant, brash, assertive men. It’s hot. It’s sexy. I don’t need some quivering metrosexual so I can feel more secure in my quest for presence in the world. You know what I’m saying?

But, hey, be what you want to be. Just don’t demand others be less of who they are so you can feel accommodated. That’s penny ante bullshit. Raise the stakes. Be all you want to be and respect them for their best attributes, too.

Sure, we could all use a little changing. Let’s just ensure it’s happening for the right reasons.

All I know is this – the sexiest kind of woman I know is one who’s secure in who she is, knows what she wants, can articulate it, and can celebrate it while celebrating those around her.

It’s a rare breed, and I wish it wasn’t.

Fourteen women died, 13 more were injured, and countless other lives were lost because someone thought chicks had it easier. This isn’t about quotas, though. It’s about hoping one day we’re all going to be able to see the best in each other and accept it, regardless of gender, of sexuality, of race, of class.

I think there’s good to be found in remembering what was lost that day, especially in proximity to Christmas, a time of joy and rebirth. I try to remember that in the smoke of that gunfire was borne a new kind of feminism. I like to think some part of me is a product of that day.

It’s the only way any of it can ever make sense.

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