Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Friday, December 9, 2016

Gwen O'Reilly Writes About December 6, 1989. The Montreal Massacre

The Memorial at Minto Park Montreal
(article by Gwen O'Reilly first published in

December 6th, 1989. I remember the day when 14 young women were murdered by Marc Lepin because he thought of them as feminists.   The Women’s Centre had held its annual meeting that very night.  We sat in our tiny feminist enclave discussing the dry administrative details of non-profit governance, unaware of the traumatic event unfolding in Montreal.  There were no cell phones, texts or twitter then – none of us would hear the events of the day until we returned home and turned on the radio or TV.  That event both galvanized and vilified feminists and anti-violence activists for years afterward.

We still hold vigils to remember those 14 women and the significance of gender based and racialized violence, but the details have faded, and for many are no longer in living memory. And there are so many others to remember and mourn, especially Indigenous women, who have been murdered or are missing.

The aftermath of the Montreal Massacre, as it was dubbed at the time, took the form of a vitriolic argument between women’s groups and the status quo. Was Marc Lepin motivated by misogyny or by mental illness? Was it hatred of women, or simply a random act of unpreventable violence? It seems so naive now. At that time, there was no gun registry, very little anti-violence policy anywhere and concerns about missing and murdered Indigenous women were not even on the public agenda.

In 2016, the question is moot, evidenced by the results of the recent election in the USA. It seems when times are uncertain, people (women included) want daddy to protect them and tell them what to do. His personal dysfunction or political position does not matter as long as he is a big, strong man.  Is this starting to sound familiar?? Trump and his trolls lie, but they don’t dissemble – we know exactly where they stand.  They are proud and loud about their prejudice, and have given perpetrators of gendered and racialized violence a big green light.  The combination of entitlement and power is a volatile mix that will cause a lot of collateral damage, and US women are bracing for a significant loss of rights and access to justice and reproductive freedom.

So what to do about all this apocalypse in the air? The problem is patriarchal, colonialist and imperialist – and who is better equipped to understand this stuff than feminists?  The world needs feminists and feminisms more than ever.  And considering the gravity of the situation, we might need a few feminist superheroes to help us out. And I’m not talking about Justin Trudeau.  And not Wonder Woman, either. (Sorry, United Nations!)

We need someone who can leap over Trump Tower and other tall entitlements in a single bound! Someone with a magic cloak of visibility to make unequal power obvious…. or the ability to turn mansplainers into stone.  Someone with super de-con-structive powers who can unpack oppressive structures with one X-ray glance….. A superhero with super decolonizing powers, to boldly stop messing with other people’s cultures and livelihoods, or maybe the power to warp time and prevent colonization in the first place.  We could really use someone with a laser lasso of love, so that all encircled by her rope could see only what unites them, and forget the things that divide them.  Also, a shape/sex/social location shifter who can transcend gender, race, class would come in handy.  And, of course we will be needing someone with super redistribution of wealth power, some kind of economic metamorphoser, as well as an ecological empath who can sink her feminist fungal hyphae into the earth and connect us all telepathically to the health of the planet.  Last, but not least, we need a being with a nuclear compassion reactor that can radiate love through every fence and fortification.

Yes, we could really use some super powers in these times, other than the double edged sword of the Internet. But seriously, the actual feminist superhero is YOU.  So iron up your cape, dust off your boots and get out there – the world needs you like never before.

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