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How Far Can Hate Take a Man? The Polytechnique Massacre

by Zeynep Ezgi BATMAZ


Feminist movements continued to grow in the 1980s. Second-wave feminism in the 80s drew attention to sexuality, family, domesticity, the workplace, reproductive rights, and official legal inequalities. As women raised their voices against the patriarchal system, they started to get portrayed as crazy women who hated men. Even women were hesitant to join these movements because they were scared of people's reactions. In this political environment, a tragic event took place in Montreal. A young man named Marc Lepine killed 14 women and injured 13 others in the halls of the Ecole Polytechnique.


Marc Lepine was an ordinary man. He was born on October 26, 1964. His mother was a nurse, and his father was a businessman. His father, Rachid Ghrabi, was abusive towards women, and this caused Lepine's family to break into pieces. His father left, and his mother neglected him. His hatred for his father was why Lepine changed his name from Gamil Rodrigue Liass Gharbi to Marc Lepine. Later in his life, Lepine tried to become many things but never achieved his goals. He dropped out of college, he was fired from his job, and he even applied to the Polytechnique but was not accepted. His failures kept adding to his anger towards women. He thought that they were getting the jobs, they were going to college, they were the ones keeping him down. He even clearly stated in his suicide note: "Feminists have always enraged me. I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker." 


On the day of the massacre, December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine walked into a classroom in Ecole Polytechnique with a semi-automatic rifle. He ordered the men out, leaving him alone with nine female students; he started shouting that he hated feminists and shot at them. He killed six women in that classroom. Then he walked the school halls, killing and injuring more people. After killing his last victim with a knife, it was his turn to go. He ended his life.


After the events of December 6, debates about violence against women and gun control laws grew, and the Coalition for Gun Control was formed. After 30 years, in 2019, the city of Montreal recognized the attack as an anti-feminist act. December 6 became a national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.


The Montreal Massacre shook the media. Marc Lepine's actions were a clear example of violence against women and anti-feminism. However, it was neither the first nor the last hate crime towards women. Many women were killed that day and are still being killed simply for existing. Violence continues, and it will continue until we make change happen.

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