Never Forget & Never Stop Fighting
27 years ago today, 14 women were mercilessly executed at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Why? Because they were women.
Fourteen incredibly intelligent women with bright futures of now unknown potential were murdered by one man. One man crusading against the “Feminist Agenda.”
- Geneviève Bergeron, a civil engineering student
- Hélène Colgan, a mechanical engineering student
- Nathalie Croteau, also a mechanical engineering student
- Barbara Daigneault, another mechanical engineering student
- Anne-Marie Edward, a chemical engineering student
- Maud Haviernick, a materials engineering student
- Maryse Laganière, a budget clerk in l’École Polytechnique finance department
- Maryse Leclair, another materials engineering student
- Anne-Marie Lemay, another mechanical engineering student
- Sonia Pelletier, also a mechanical engineering student
- Michèle Richard, a materials engineering student
- Annie St-Arneault, a mechanical engineering student
- Annie Turcotte, also a materials engineering student
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, a nursing student
These are the names we need to remember, the names that we must celebrate, honour, and mourn. The misogynist that was so insecure, he was threatened by women studying engineering –– and women in general –– does not even deserve his name to be written in a footnote.
These fourteen women are the ones who need to be remembered. They were rounded up, terrorized, and shot dead –– because they were women –– because they were smart, curious, and brave enough to enter a male-dominated field of study.
These women are the reason a pit grows in my stomach, the reason fear strangles my heart, whenever I see a man passionately argue #NotAllMen when faced with the innumerable accounts of #YesAllWomen. Because all it takes is one man with one gun to kill fourteen women when he feels like his rights, his place in society is threatened.
One insecure man. Fourteen defenseless women.
This is why we need feminism, why we need to challenge the status quo to be better, to want better. We need men who can’t fathom why a woman shouldn’t be a physicist or an engineer. We need men who think it’s perfectly normal to cry or show emotion around their friends. We need boys who don’t understand how throwing or hitting like a girl is an insult. We need boys who are just as happy to dress up as Elsa for Halloween as they are Batman. We need toys that don’t separate the genders, that don’t tell the boys that they can be the next Einstein while telling girls that being cute is as far as they get to go in life. We need men to stop being threatened by a woman’s independence, strength, and success.
Feminism is not about the success of women at the expense of men, it’s about the success of women alongside men. It’s about respect and dignity. There is no reason (other than insecurity) for men to feel threatened by feminism, no reason (other than guilt) to try to discredit the negative experiences of women. Feminism should be about basic human decency, not about attacking (or defending) the patriarchy.
These fourteen women found out that you don’t even need to be an activist to be vilified as a feminist, you just need to be a woman. You don’t need to march in the streets for women’s rights, you just need to study engineering. You don’t need to take action, you just need to exist, and that’s enough to get you killed.